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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"

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Thoughts for discussion on Friday

Our articles for this week have presented us with several different themes:

1. Hayes emphasizes continuity and change over time, and suggests a need to break out of standard periodization. How does a differing concept of periodization affect historical questions? He suggests that historical inquiry needs to be organized around new break points. How might a focus on "community"interact with a more fluid concept of relevant time periods? And, am I the only one who is somewhat concerned that the notion of continuity and change might lead to false assumptions -- for instance that past actions/activities might too easily be seen as simply forerunners to now, or that we might consciously or unconsciously fall into thinking of the past as simply the march of progress until now?

2. Woodford focuses on the importance of recognizing institutions -- specifically the library as an institution. He emphasizes the library's relationship to education and to the book. He discusses the library as both actor and acted-upon in the development of the city, and gives examples of the interrelationship of economics and politics in development and role of the library. He takes as a given the idea that the library has a profound impact in the lives of people. I couldn't help but think of the tremendous changes that have occured in Detroit since this article, and the book it refers to, were written -- social,economic, cultural, physical. I wonder if today's institutional history of the Detroit Public Library might have a different emphasis?

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