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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 12, 2005

For this Friday meeting!

For Friday about Dr.McCook's 'A place at the table',Hello everyone! Are you enjoying the book? I have some discussion topics.

First, the book starts with the disparity that what the public libraries or librarians have been working for their communities and the lack of public recognition of the work in community building(p.5). Dr.McCook briefly mentions two reasons (p.40): Actors in building communities do not well understand public libraries' work; Librarians and libraries have not been integradlly involved in the process of building communities.

I just want to think about the reasons more. Why building community actors don't understand the libraries well? The actors are supposed to be parts of the library users in their everyday lives. They already experienced libraries but they do not use the libraries when they need in their business. Do they have different expectations between their personal and business information needs? If they do, why? Why librarians and libraries have not been involved in the process? Because, they were not invited, even though they wanted? What are the librarians' notion of building community? Don't they know about the concepts or practices of building communities? Is this the reason that the author provides the first two chapters? Does the two reasons affect each other?

Second, the author points out factors for succesful community building in three perspectives: characteristics of the community, the community building process, and community building organizers. In the every characteristics, she provides possible librarians' roles and practices. In chapter 5, the book is taking quite big space (12/107!!!) for the true stories of building community. What do you think about the questions on page 56. Do you think these are enough to investigate the library involvement in building community? If you don't think, what kinds of questions can be added later?

Third, chapter 6 focuses on libraries' and librarians' roles in cybercommunity. The public libraries physically provides their users with access to the the Internet. What I want to point out is that accessing to the Internet does mean somebody can be involved in but is not in the cyberspace. The notion of building community does not mean just to live together in a certain area. As the same stream, getting the access does not mean to have membership of cybercommunity. Except the providing the access, what kinds of librarians' roles can be expected in the cybercommunity? Also, what can be identities of public libraries and librarians that are generally defined geographically, in the cybercommunity?

Forth, the book is talking about the historical roles of the library in the community on page 95. What can be reasonable justifications of library building community? We already read some historical investigation of the public library's work and roles. Is there anything else fitting with the library community building?

Last, this book stimulates me to think possible other concepts related to community. The author brings out the concept of community building. What kinds of verbs or nouns we can use instead of building? For instance, community maintenance. Just for fun!



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