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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


Beck's article does show the "tunnel vision" of Harris in his account of library patrons. However, it also brings me some confusion. Beginning with a critique on how Harris and Ditzion examine the origins of public libraries, Beck's account actually has nothing to do with the origins of public libraries. It's a good point to criticizing Harris that "himself expresses elitism by generalizing about the lower classes and by stating that workers and immigrants had little or no desire for education," but why is it necessary to examine the social and cultural conditions of the library patrons in order to understand why public libraries came into being? If the patrons did play an important role in the origins of the public libraries, I would really like to hear Beck's illustration on this point. This would make his argument more powerful and this article more interesting to thought.

Well, my question somewhat deviates the main topic of this week, but I keep wondering the role that patrons could play in the development of public libraries and what we can learn from it.


Blogger Jacob said...

The impression I got from Beck was the Jewish immigrants or Jews living in NYC were responsible in creating the first libraries that eventually merged into Aguilar Library. If this was indeed, the case Beck should have provided more evidence to support this thesis..

4:37 PM  

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