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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"

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

For Friday: Class, Family, Religion & Culture

Let us look at the issue of Class in the articles by Beck (1977), Anderson (2003), and Villagran (2001). Beck seems to discredit Michael Harris’ elitist assumptions about the immigrant “classes” as being lumped into one class, not interested in or having no time for education, reading, or using the library. What does Beck’s article on the Russian-Jewish immigrants tell us about Class assumptions regarding poverty, education, library use, etc.? What do Anderson’s and Villagran’s articles tell us about Class? Notice that Beck’s coverage of library/education use by Russian-Jewish immigrants covers all age groups, with library/educational services for various age groups. Anderson’s coverage of library development and use by African-Americans, often newcomers, largely depended on support by middle and upper class individuals. Villagran’s coverage of special programming for Hispanic community members focuses on services for children and mothers.

Let us also look at the issue of Family in these 3 articles: Does any of these authors place much emphasis on the importance of Family to these three ethnic groups? Beck does mention that Russian-Jewish parents sacrificed greatly and encouraged their children to obtain as much education as possible. Villagran implies strong family connections through descriptions of parents and children coming to the library programs together. Does Anderson look at the issue of Family in her article?

Let us also look at the issue of Religion and Culture in these 3 articles: Beck almost beats us over the head with his claim that it was Culture that caused Russian-Jewish immigrants to come to the library. How does Beck tie Religion into Culture among Russian-Jewish immigrants? Does Anderson describe Religion or Culture as factors in the development and us of the 135th Street Branch Library during the Harlem Renaissance? Why or why not? For that matter, how does Villagran treat these issues, or does Villagran address Religion and Culture at all?

Also, do any of these authors place these ethnic group experiences into larger contexts of societal issues and trends of the times studies? Do they have to? Who are the intended audiences, and what are the purposes of their statements?

In addition, do all of these authors explain these methods thoroughly, and provide sufficient and credible evidence to support their claims?

Finally, how much of these ethnic groups' experiences was the result of concerted efforts by librarians, and how much was the result of library users influencing policy and practice?



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