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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, October 27, 2005

Dismantling the Public Sphere

Examples from the book reflect stimulating issues especially in three related cores - economic, technology, and intellectual trends and values. The book is full of details and issues, and I cannot deny that I have a hard time trying to understand not only its skin but its body which dismantle the sphere for us to consider, and it is very useful.

To the perspective that technology has roles influencing decisions in librarianship and the profession globally, the book, to me, introduces interaction between technology, librarianship and public sphere. How do technology, library professions, services, users, and the sphere interplay with each other? The “SelfCheck System” by 3-M is a good example (p.139). Existing trend created by human mechanism in a so-called “public sphere” might be one factor that influences the technology industry in developing such equipment. Then, as a circle, it returns impacts to the profession, services, and the users. Librarians and staffs might ask whether they are “being replaced” by technology equipment or whether the technology maximize or minimize their work and productivities. We have this discussion about whether technology equipment will replace librarians, and one thing is that people interaction gives different senses and feelings that technology cannot replace. However, we are in the flow of changing trends that occur along with the development and implementation of technology as well as the needs and views of users. I think there are trends among us librarians that we want to keep whether or not they match with users' needs. So, does this have to do with the profession's philosophy? What comes to mind when libraries are considered a business corporate which involves issues like marketing, public relations, consumption, and budgeting?

Moreover, technology requires a large sum of fortune to invest, economic becomes an undeniable factor in this playground, and it can both limit and accelerate growth. I am wondering who could be actors in this realm for balancing the implementation of technology, and how can members in a community enact. Are the balancing and decision making acts be considered gate-keeping? Therefore, I am wondering who is the key holder(s) in the situation like this. When, why, and how will the key make changes? Does it all depend upon the key holder(s)?

I, personally, think of two people. One is an innovator, and the other is a facilitator. There are other people which might have a lot to do with the growing of the profession, but these two seem to come up when thinking about our class discussions and through the readings. In order to make something grow, I think we need both an innovator and a facilitator. They can also be those who make difference in solving the theoretically and intellectually thinness in library literature that appears as one of our major crisis culture (p.150).

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