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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

Some thoughts from Building, Books, and Bytes:

I think the BBB article is interesting because it demonstrates ethnographic writing that I find very comfortable to read through. Many issues discussed in the article were basically based upon a particular interviewee’s point of view. For example, (1) leaders were developed by the library field to “step up to the plate”, and these leaders can define and assert the role of the library in the digital future. However, I think it is a very good point of entry of more discussion on how the field blends itself into a dynamic cycle of a community and what libraries finally become, and whether it is far to the idea of innovators and facilitators instead of just leaders. However, at that time, the situation might lend itself to a need for “leaders” more than collaborative interactions among social actors. (2) Also, an aspect of niche marketing involve in libraries as discussed in this paper, while nowadays it is not only this “niche” we are talking about but the issues from the whole “corporate” aspects. So, I am wondering about the changing trend from niche to mass marketing. Aren’t we trying to do either niche or mass marketing or to do both?

As Bridget points out interestingly about youngsters at that time, I am wondering how they are doing now. Do they see themselves as immigrants to technology or natives to technology? I might be interesting to find out how this particular group reacts to and perceives differently comparing those days and today.

Also, I think there are two ideas that come confronting each other in this cycle related to libraries are (1) the concept of business corporate and competition with bookstores and (2) the concerns on digital information and communication technology. I think the article sounds too much worrisome about how libraries can survive, and it might be because of the article was written in 1997 when future was not so obvious. I am impressed with the fact in our field that “the library” remains not replaceable. I see newer and more attractive terms such as “media centers” and so on, but these cannot represent the whole idea or bring the complete feelings as “library”. I think we have had interesting discussions about the library far more than in a spatial sense, but the nature and interpretation of library as a social institution for social activities. I think users of digital technology weave their ways to make use of library information and facilities electronically while creating values about virtual community and network that are becoming more powerful these days. However, diversity among users bring several different preferences, and so we cannot put away printed materials –not now and in the near future.

So, the point is that I am wondering if the library is a source for producing human and cultural capitals to a community, and if it finally turns itself into one of the capitals that give power and strength to the community.

However, the D'Elia's article is something more formal, and I am trying to understand :)

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