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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, November 17, 2005

General reactions to Buildings . .. Bytes

In a lot of ways I find this is the most disturbing article yet. Some of the comments from those interviewed seemed hopeful, however most of the hopeful comments came from directors / visionaries who had thought long (sympathetically) about the issues facing libraries. Similar to Bridget's response, what was most disturbing was the attitude of the younger respondents. What I found most disturbing: “Yet they just as easily sanctioned the notion that trained library professionals could be replaced with community volunteers, such as retirees.” (182) This is similar to the recent budget reductions proposals in Wisconsin which raised the issue of non-renewal of library positions based on the lack of need because of Google. I am all for bringing in retirees to the library but not to replace librarians (which they can’t) rather to supplement. We could use some more caring folks to help out in the library. I spend a lot of time with 3 - 9 year olds and they all love grandparents. I’m sure this is happening already . ..

Some of the suggestions for strengthening the library in the digital age seemed like reasonable/doable approaches for example: “Some of the librarians described the potential for partnerships between local public libraries and university libraries to expand collections and provide cost sharing for expensive digital collections.” (191) I think that cost/resource sharing is critical to strengthening libraries. What other resources could benefit from the interlibrary-loan model?

Another topic that I thought would be interesting to discuss is the idea that: “The digital age merely extends the traditional notion of the library as “the people’s university” (187) This label “the people’s university” is a nice idea but I wonder how prevalent this is? It’s not the first time I’ve heard it . . . but the first I’ve seen it this semester.

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