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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"

Sunday, November 06, 2005

More thoughts

In the Lepkie and Hopkins article, p. 352, there is talk about, "Libraries have traditionally been idealized as a spatially unrestricted communal meeting ground for all members of a pluralistic society, a shared site where people of various classes, ethnicities, religions, and cutlures, mingle to create the 'heterogencity of open democracy.'" There has been much written about this concept in our readings. Yet, I keep wondering, "Do all these different kinds of people really mingle? I enjoy observing people in libraries. I rarely see all these different kinds of people interacting, or engaging in public discourse and debate at the library (unless there is a class in the library). Just because many different kinds of people are together in a space (a space with enforced quiet, where many are trying to study or read, an individual activity), does NOT mean people are debating with each other. Often what I see are people who are alike (be it by physical appearance, age, etc.) sometimes talking to each other; I rarely see different kinds of people hanging out together and engaging in discourse. The same thing happens in the undergraduate college, but that is another story.....

Also, Jom brought up an illuminating concept of technology providing a comfortable space for those who may not feel comfortable speaking up in an oral situation (due to language, culture, physical disability, etc.), in effect creating a marginalized group. Yes, we see it in our own class; the native English-speaking people speak up quickly and rapidly, and the international students, although extremely intelligent and articulate, can feel more relaxed and comfortable on the weblog, where there is more time to think, collect one's thoughts, and write them down. Technology as an avenue of expression for a marginalized group (though I am not fond of that term; it has some negative connotations for me). Even I have said to some friends, "You speak faster than I think!" and I am a native English-speaker!

It is fascinating to think how technology may indeed provide a public space for the expression of so many people who have important things to say, but may not have said them in a face-to-face situation.



Blogger Jom said...

I come across the term "communication apprehension" in another class, and I am wondering in what ways we can make use of electronic/online environment in order to reducing the CA in a community -- whether it can promote engagement of individuals.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Soojin Park said...

Your point is right. By the way, I want to talk about public libraries services for mingling different people. For instance, some mini courses for English-second language speakers, hobbies, etc. Oh! Book clubs! These services can make people be together. Even though the public libraries do not work as a debating place, they provide issues for debating which can happen outside of the public libraries. Also, we can understand the meaning of mingle in terms of intellectuality. We can read books on different types of people. Intellectual mingling. Too ideological! :)

4:26 PM  

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