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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"

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

more on Dismantling

I'm not usually posting after class, so it has been really interesting to read all the comments this time. This was a quirky book. Some of it I thought was arrogant and nitpicking.. But the part that really struck me as right on the mark is the part that Greg has highlighted too. It has to do with the commodification of information, the economic, business model taking over everything including expectations of libraries and librarians. And not just in the public library. The economic, corporate business model permeates the academic library as well. Although there is something to be said for treating library users as "customers'-- ie. as if their needs and values are important-- when you follow this model to its logical outcome what you have can be a commodified edutainment commercial venture rather than a library which is an important part of the public good. And the commodification of information and publishing is having vast impacts on what kind of information is available, at what cost, to whom and in what form. That is a subject I could go on and on about, but it is time to start this week's reading.

Like Blaire, I thought some aspects of the arguments presented were one-sided. Libraries are working on creating their own resources, cooperating and encouraging creation of open-access resources, and doing other things to fight the corporatization and commodification of information. They are not just passively accepting the economic status quo. But it is difficult to do this. Libraries are stretched thin by multiple demands and insufficient funds. It does involve funding, even if the model is not corporate.

Well, I'm sorry I missed class. I found this book thought-provoking and in some ways pretty profound. I wish the author had developed his theoretical argument more. It seemed to me that he had his ideas already and then just draped a convenient theoretical framework over them without much attention to what thinkers such as Habermas might really be saying. But there are some good citations in the notes so I can try to follow up and read more of this philosophy-- it seems quite relevant to me.

It was interesting to spend some time at the ALA Archives reading the ALA Executive Board minutes for 1923,1924, 1925. I did not find much I can use for my paper, but my goodness, what a cozy group of old boys this group seems to have been. There was an interesting paper given at the conference about the formation of the ALA Social Responsibilities Round table in the 1970''s and some other issues that Buschman mentions in a later context as well. These issues do seem to be part of the longer term in thinking about what the role of libraries and librarians should be.



Blogger Jacob said...

For more on the impact of commodification of information and publishing impact the type of information available, at what cost, to whom, and in what form we should consider the new developments by Amazon and Google to sell access on a page-by-page basis with restrictions dictated to users by digital rights management software.

7:02 PM  

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