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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 20, 2005

Immigrants in Libraries

I got a kick out of Axel Josephson's response to the remarks given by the Library Journal editor in Fain's article (p. 261). The suspicious part of me wonders if the objection of foreign language materials had to do solely with wanting to "[promote] good citizenship" or if it was something more than that.

One paragraph in the Dain article felt to me as condescending towards the new immigrants (p. 256 starting with "For the 'new' immigrants, were, for many reasons, not natural library users..."). Later, the recollections of a retired New York City school teacher and school principal stated, "Those who could read were too busy with the laundry, cooking, shopping, and baby after baby." Yet, I have to remember that this was written in the time when immigrants were viewed as uncultured. Oh, wait, is that current times, too?

In beginning my research into graphic novels in public libraries, I've been reading a little more on the controversy in Denver regarding Spanish fotonovelas. From the Denver Post, Aug. 12: Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., said, "he was not dealing with the novella issue but favors the library's removal of questionable items - including those in English and other languages."
'With the few dollars that they have to spend, they would choose to spend it on that garbage, rather than spending it on something uplifting and, by the way, in English,' Tancredo said. 'They choose to use materials of such little redeeming social value, like a trashy comic book.'

Are we back to how libraries must uplift the masses by instilling social values again? Talk about full circle...

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