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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"

Friday, October 21, 2005

Americanization

Dain mentions about the three viewpoints about Americanization and points out the librarians at the New York Public Library leaned toward the “cultural pluralism” concept of Americanization. Fain seems to suggest that libraries were vehicles for “melting pot” (the second concept that Dain mentions) approach. They might be different approaches and they might reflect different ideas and values, but I’m thinking, the results were probably the same – a unique American culture was created (and still being created). Are there still the three different conceptions toward Americanization today? Or are there other viewpoints? The readings for this course really remind me that there is so much that I do not know about American culture.
I like the idea that Fain conveys at the end of her article that libraries were crucial for certain individuals not “because of its special programs for immigrants or because of the social reform views of its employees, but because it was the major source of influential books which transmitted powerful ideas and changed lives.” The standards, values and ideals of the library profession might be changing over time because of the influence of various external social forces and also because of its own perception and knowledge about the society and its own power and limit, but the most important value remains over time, that is to serve knowledge to its patrons, which makes the library so valuable and powerful.

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