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LIS 950: Libraries and community

The purpose of this seminar is to explore an important topic in library and information studies in depth — in all its intertwined historical, cultural, philosophical, and political aspects — through a graduate reading/discussion seminar. The topic varies each time the course is taught; this time around, we will focus on "libraries and community"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Some thoughts from 09/23 readings: fundamental of theory development?

First, I thought that the readings offer illustrations and concepts of acts and community issues such as “change and continuity”, “community cohesive”, and even “deliberation” that exist concurrently with the development, changes, and continuity in the history. Then, in the overall concept, I perceived a clearer vision of theory and its approaches. Starting with Hay’s article, I found it is persuasive and exciting to read, after some undeniable difficulties in getting into details. It is fascinating to see ideas on theory development inlaid in the content. Especially, the paragraph discussing “modernizing theory” on page 36 brings concepts to my thinking that a theory development process involves essential elements which are observation, identification, representation, and later on in the article, reflection, and distinction. It is very useful to me to be introduced to the elements and characteristics for theory and its development and approaches. Even toward the end, I am wondering if anybody finds the suggestions useful for our project. I found it illustrates ideas and creates a mental model on “how” to bring problems of changes and continuity more into historical study. To what extent do you think the concept of theory and its construction or development important to us in developing study toward library history?

Then, in Woodford and Du Mont, the cases in the readings definitely provide ideas on representation – especially the library’s representation of a community. Breakthroughs in history marked patterns of changes and continuity, and even to me, as an outsider of American society, the stories seem pleasant and comprehensible.

Williams’ confirms and provides more knowledge on the definition of theory and its approaches through presenting meaningful theories related to social system and library. To me, I found the last article, Harris & Hannah, fulfilling the question “why”. Although, they signified importance of the definition, culture, and power of library as essential issues in library history, I found their idea toward “reality”, as for my understanding, is another key factor for us to study in the concept of “why”.

The major impression and inspiration from the reading is the knowledge of theory development and how researchers disseminate and interpret what, when, why, and how toward the existence of social process, changes, and continuity as well as distinct different uniqueness in different concepts, process, settings, time frames, and so on. This is personally very useful to me.


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