IS 510

Wee 12 Readings

Bossaller, Jenny S., and John M. Budd. “What We Talk about When We Talk about Free Speech.” The Library Quarterly 85, no. 1 (2015): 26-44. Branum, Candise. 2008. The Myth of Library Neutrality.

Week 11 Readings

Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture. Preface, intro, and Chapter 1. AND see: and explore Creative Commons, the movement and “copyleft” system that this book
jumpstarted: Library of Congress on copyright. AND Henderson, Carol C. “Libraries as Creatures of Copyright: Why Librarians Care about Intellectual Property Law and Policy,”

Week 9 Readings

ALA, “Library Bill of Rights.” And more at

This is the second time I have read this for a class and it is one of those documents that one should probably reread on a regular basis because it is good to be reminded what a library should be. That said, given American racial history, it is easy to see how we have often strayed from these ideals. Unfortunately, there are many instances where the politics/beliefs of individual librarians or library boards have dictated what can and can’t be part of the collection, and who can or can’t make use of the library services. Regardless, of these failings, it is important to have something to strive for and work towards. Librarianship is definitely not a profession for the faint at heart. 

Foerstel, Herbert N. Refuge of a Scoundrel: the Patriot Act in Libraries. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2004. Chapter 1 (pp 1-44, about the precursor to the USA Patriot Act–the FBI Awareness) And see one update, also in reading collection under “Connecticut”: 

Reading this simultaneously frustrating and chilling. It is amazing how far Americans will go in order to “protect” the United States from becoming a socialist country and other threats, so far in fact that they replicate those repressive tactics they are supposed to be protecting us from.  What is especially mind boggling is that they do not see the hypocrisy. When I first signed up to learn Russian in the late 1980s, we were told by our teacher that if we persisted, we would end up on “lists”. I of course persisted and now I am pursuing an additional degree in Library Science, so I guess maybe even more lists…. I believe libraries should be places of information for all who seek it and that information should include the right to privacy. I worry sometimes that since the Library Awareness Program and then the further eroding of privacy with the Patriot Act, combined with our increasing reliance on technology that we as American are just handing over those very rights we fought the British over some 100 plus years ago.

Week 8 Readings

Hector Hernández and Miguel Ruiz speaking in their panel at the 2018 iSChool Indaba on Ending Racism: and for orientation and figures see Kate Williams opening remarks, in reading collection as well as on webs page see “read the opening remarks

The figures raised in Prof. William’ opening remark were quite shocking, though sadly not very unexpected. I think one thing that became clear from listening to Hernandez and Ruiz speak is the importance of mentorship in encouraging non-white/female students to enter the library profession. The examples of racism both men experienced were not Racism with a capital R, but rather, small instances of racism – the questioning of a grade or an assumption that you are in the wrong place. It is those small microaggressions/instances of racism that seem insurmountable. I love the idea of this conference, not only that it was about opening up a dialogue about how we work together to end racism, but that it was supposed to build a plan for doing so. Was there ever a follow up to see what was working/not working?

Avril Johnson Madison and Dorothy Porter Wesley, “Dorothy Burnett Porter Wesley: Enterprising Steward of Black Culture” The Public Historian, Winter, 1995, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Winter, 1995), pp. 15-40

I so enjoyed reading this interview! Dorothy Porter Wesley was an amazing woman. I would love to visit Howard just to see the collections she amassed. If it weren’t for dedicated people like her so much of Black history would have been lost. Listening to her talk about her own research and frustrations over women who did not write much or work to preserve their own history mad me nod in acknowledgement of my own frustrations writing about women working in the early film industry. There was nothing more infuriating than finding a collection of papers for one of the women I am researching, only to find out that most of her efforts were spent trying to preserve her husbands place in film history. 

Week 7 Readings

Fraser, Sarah, Martine Lagacé, Bienvenu Bongué, Ndatté Ndeye, Jessica Guyot, Lauren Bechard, Linda Garcia, et al. 2020. “Ageism and COVID-19: What Does Our Society’s Response Say about Us?” Age and Ageing 49 (5): 692–95.

When I first read this, I was not surprised at all, in fact I thought it was perhaps an understatement. Indeed, I went back and looked at the publication date, which was September of 2020, which I think was before some of the most egregious  statements made by not only the media, but by elected officials, who went so far as to suggest that not only was it the civic duty of the elderly to die of covid-19, but that they were in fact happy to do so, if it meant opening back up and saving the economy. Even our former president’s rhetoric about school age kids not getting (very) sick from Covid-19 contributed completely ignored the fact that children can carry and spread the disease to older family members, school teachers/staff, bus drivers and daycare workers. It all contributed to the assumption that a whole generation was completely disposable, and what was not addressed at all of course was the issue of class, because if you were poor you were definitely disposable as well. This has been one truly disheartening aspect of the pandemic. Yes, I agree there needs to be inter-generational collaboration for us to come together and fight this thing, but I don’t see that happening, I feel it might be more endemic than the authors realize. 

Then examine the section Marks of Old Age on the page “Old Age” Wikipedia page.

I found the section on Signs, which discussed the physical and mental marks of ageing extremely frustrating. The whole entry has a really negative tone, not that getting older is all ice cream and unicorns, but it isn’t all tooth decay and loss of bladder control either.  Are there no positive physical signs of ageing? The piece does mention that older people are generally happier, but in such a way that it seems unimportant and trivial. Personally though, I think that is really important. Also, who  the heck thought menopause should be tacked on to the note about changing hair? “Hair usually becomes grayer and also might become thinner.[61][62] As a rule of thumb, around age 50, about 50% of Europeans have 50% grey hair.[63] Many men are affected by balding, and women enter menopause.​_” Menopause is WAY more complicated than changing hair. Not to mention that so much of that is genetic, by brother-in-law started balding in his 20s in college and the women in my family all started turning grey/white in our early 20s (this goes back for generations). Anyway, the entry irritated me.

Lenstra, Noah, Fatih Oguz, and Courtnay S. Duvall. 2020. “Library Services to an Aging Population: A Nation-Wide Study in the United States.” Journal of Librarianship and Information Science 52 (3): 738–48.

This article was extremely interesting, to think of the shifting age dynamic of library patrons compared to services developed (especially because I have always worked in academic libraries). I was surprised at how significantly the number and types of services for older patrons drops in rural areas. Some questions I had that might or might not have affected the outcomes of the services offered : what is the median age of the library staff, or more particularly, what is the age of the person planning the events? How accessible is the library in question to the older patrons? Do they track patronage use – in other words how does library use among older patrons compare to that of younger patrons and how then do those numbers align with services offered? Why do libraries offer little or no services for older patrons? is it funding related? Do those libraries see them selves as part of their local communities? If so, what other types of things might be happening at the library that are not specifically programmed by library staff?

Week 6 Readings

Williams, Kate. “Informatics Moments,” Library Quarterly 82 Number 1, January 2012. Pages 47-73. 

I really appreciated the thoroughness of this study. According to Williams the Informatics Moment is when a person seeks help using digital technology. Initially I thought this would be a difficult area of study, especially if William relied on the honesty of first hand accounts by patrons. However she was really lucky in that the Chicago, there was a special team called Cyber Navigators, whose job it was to help library patrons navigate that process. I really appreciated how the study combined archival documents with questionnaires given to the CN, focus groups with the CN, and ethnographies  taken to learn the stories of the CN and the patrons. Taken together, these methodologies provide a clear picture of how the informatics moment works and how it has the potential to change lives. I wonder though if there would be any way to so thoroughly get to an understanding of the patron side of those moments? Would they be similar to accounts that we have read of people using the library or reading for the first time?

Lih, Andrew. The Wikipedia revolution: how a bunch of nobodies created the world’s greatest encyclopedia. Hyperion, 2009. Chapter 5.

As someone who watched Wikipedia grow from the beginning, I found this reading very interesting. I was especially intrigued with Lih’s use of Jane Jacob’s discussion of the importance of small New York neighborhoods and sidewalks in particular as a way to think of wikipedia and its communities. The concept of the sandbox as a safe place to play and test things out is still used today, before our library system switched to ALMA and PRIMO we played around in the sandbox, where we could make any number f changes and mistakes without actually affecting the catalogue was so useful. In the past I have participated on Wikipedia hack-a-thons, most recently, one to remedy the deficiency of information who worked in the film industry during the silent era (my class had extra credit is they incorporate some of their research projects into wikipedia pages). I vaguely remember the Gdansk/Danzig controversy that was mentioned and was intrigued to see how it all played out. It truly was a collective working together to solve a problem (much like the ants described in the opening of the chapter.)


Annotated Bibliography

Cook, Terry. “‘We Are What We Keep; We Keep What We Are’: Archival Appraisal Past, Present and Future.” Journal of the Society of Archivists 32, no. 2 (October 1, 2011): 173–89.

Dick, Archie L. “Epistemological Positions and Library and Information Science.” The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy 69, no. 3 (1999): 305–23.

Ugh, this week’s readings made me feel like I was in my PhD program again. While I generally love theory, epistemology and ontology were perhaps my least favorite theoretical avenues. Though I will admit, that I am not sure how I would have made heads or tails of the reading had I not already read many of the sources he quoted. Dick laments that epistemology is an underutilized methodology in LIS studies.Dick makes it clear and easy to understand why the study of knowledge in relation to libraries, users, and practitioners is a sticky and potentially contentious theoretical minefield. I was glad to see he incorporated Stuart Hall into his discussion, as too often scholars (especially political economists) ignore the role culture has in the formation of meaning. I found his suggestion of a holistic positivist approach to epistemology (or in other words an interweaving of alternative epistemologies) rather intriguing because in many ways he was describing critical studies (i.e. the interweaving of various theoretical perspectives to understand how meaning is made in media.)

Dick, Archie L. The Hidden History of South Africa’s Book and Reading Cultures. University of Toronto Press, 2012.

I initially confused which of the Dick readings was required for this week and read the piece on epistemology first. Where that article was dense and convoluted, this one was accessible and fun to read. I now want to read the whole book. There is a similar exercise in the context of Russia, When Russia Learned to Read by Jeffrey Brooks, which looks at literacy and reading in both the ruling class and the vastly illiterate peasant class in Russia. I used this book quite extensively in my dissertation because I was interested in the connection between reading a written text and ‘reading’ a film frame, especially in regards to working women in Russian cities at the turn of the last century. The similarities and connections are astounding.

eBlackCU. Scott Bonner, Ferguson Municipal Public Library, Information City Lecture Series, 2014.

Scott Bonner, the Director of the Ferguson Municipal Public Library talked about the the role of his library during the unrest in Ferguson after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown and the subsequent grand jury decision. Bonner noted that his main goals during this time were 1) as long as the safety of his staff and patrons could be relatively assured he wanted to keep the library open, and 2) he wanted the library to keep serving the community as much as possible and in any way possible. Based on the fact that the library was only closed for 1 1/2 days and they were able to offer their regular services and took on the additional roles of school, counseling services, small business advice, etc…, I would say he was successful. I was especially impressed with his healing kits for your children to help them cope with the trauma they had just lived through. It really drove home how a public library is really more than a building with some books, it can be the home and heart of a community. A message that connected nicely to the readings by Martin and Weigand.

Flinn, Andrew. “Community Histories, Community Archives: Some Opportunities and Challenges.” Journal of the Society of Archivists 28, no. 2 (October 1, 2007): 151–76.

Henk, Mandy. Ecology, Economy, Equity: The Path to a Carbon-Neutral Library, 2014.

This reading ties in nicely with the Wilkin and Willinsky readings for this week. While Wilkin sees the networked library as the hope for the future and Willinsky makes an argument for Open Access as the publishing path of the future, Henk asks us to think about the toll these types of library interventions have on the environment. Henk posits that the responsible library, one that is truly fulfilling its mission, will have a sustainability plan to preserve the cultural heritage and the planet for posterity. She asks us the question who we are as a profession and what that means in terms of sustainability. She suggests that the core values of the librarian: democracy, scholarship, and stewardship can and should be integral to an argument for sustainability.

Ketelaar, Eric. “Archives as Spaces of Memory.” Journal of the Society of Archivists 29 (January 1, 2008): 9–27.;

Having done a lot of work in archives all over the world, I really enjoyed this week’s reading on archives. Having especially worked in Soviet and Russian archives, I found this article interesting in light of Ketelaar’s comment that archives have a tripartite role to embody truth, justice and memory. My experience shows that often that truth is framed by who is in charge and who has access to what materials. I find it fascinating that the same material can be explored by scholars from different time periods and each might have a completely different take away, informed by the politics, economy and culture of the moment in which they did their reading. I find the suggestion that archives become part of an act of commemoration and healing very interesting because historically they so often have been about hiding secrets of the past. I love the idea though of making the archive a social space, making the archive more social and collaborative, though I fear their experience with the Polar Bear Project might be par for the course – people are realy only interested in their own histories.

Martin, Lowell A. Enrichment: A History of the Public Library in the United States in the Twentieth Century. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1998. 

Martin begins the book by discussing the two major ideological currents of the 19th & 20th century, Democracy and Capitalism, and how they created fertile ground for the growth of the American Public Library system, which is maintained by the government, funded by tax dollars, and open for all. Martin’s book is a social and institutional history of American libraries. He is interested in how the “public library is a natural outgrowth of American in the making.” In chapter 1, Martin briefly out lines moments in 19th century history that lead to and informed the birth of Public Libraries, such as: parish libraries, school district libraries, social libraries and circulating/subscription libraries. The second chapter explores the foundational years following the inception of the American Public Library system. The chapter highlights key figures who  helped to build libraries (like Andrew Carnegie) and to shape what those libraries should be and do, how they should be governed, how they should build their collections, and who should have access to them.

Pawley, Christine. “Hegemony’s Handmaid? The Library and Information Studies Curriculum from a Class Perspective.” The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy 68, no. 2 (1998): 123–44.

This reading also reminded me of my former graduate school days. I agree whole-heartedly with Pawley that social theory should be included in LIS curricula and even perhaps in all forms of graduate study. I have spent a lot of time teaching about how  hegemony and ideology function in media and various other institutions and will admit to not having given much thought to the role they play in the custruction of what libraries are and how libraries work, but it makes total sense. For a kid from a very working class family, the library was an escape, a way to envision something more for myself. Now that I am much older and have to some extent broken free from my working class background, and because of my education, I have the ability to look more critically at the ways in which libraries have both maintained class (and racial) devides and how they have worked to empower the disenfanchised. I think if more students were introduced to social theory in LIS programs then perhaps libraries of the future might truly be revolutionary (something we might need in the age of mis- and dis-information.)

Wiegand, Wayne A. Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library. Illustrated edition. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Wiegand is interested in why Americans love their libraries and how they conceptualize the role of the libraries in their lives, how libraries shaped them and how they shaped the libraries they used. As a cultural historian, I love his approach to constructing the history of American libraries through the words of the people who used them. I think it gets much closer to his goal of discerning the role of ‘the library in the life of the user’ in a way that is perhaps more honest and more heartfelt than it would have been wading through dates and facts and data tabulated from surveys. The recounting of the way libraries shaped the lives of the people quoted got me thinking of what the library means to me and how much of my childhood was shaped by my time in the public library. I was not surprised by the friction caused when the American Library Association instituted their Library Bill of Rights, though I am saddened by the fact that 80 years later we are still struggling to preserve libraries as a locus of democracy, service, education and sanctuary.

Wilkin, John P. “Meanings of the Library Today.” In The Meaning of the Library, edited by Alice Crawford, 236–53. A Cultural History. Princeton University Press, 2015.

Wilkin, in defining the meaning of the library of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, invokes what he refers to as the four pillars of research libraries. For Wilkin, these pillars are especially important for the success of libraries of the 21st century. Curation is the most important aspect of libraries, it includes the selection, preservation, maintenance, archiving and promise of access to the cultural record. He notes that increasingly this includes non-book materials, especially digital objects. Wilkin notes that in the 21st century Engagement with research and learning will be about combining local activities, such as librarians embedded in departments with networked learning tools and environments that encourage collaboration. Like libraries of the past and present, he sees them creating and managing Spaces devoted to users and collections that are both local and networked. Wilkin see the fourth pillar as Publishing as an interplay between the library as local and the library as networked with the library being both curator and disseminator of information. This 21st century library is not without challenges, especially those posed by decreasing budgets, increasing costs, and environmental concerns. He suggests working at scale as a means for libraries to save time and money (more reliance on networked activity.)

Willinsky, John. The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship. Digital Libraries and Electronic Publishing. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2006.

In Chapter One Willinsky discusses the beginning of Open Access Publishing with the launch of the Public Library of Science’s PloS Biology, which promised to level the educational playing field with free and open access to all the articles in its online publication beginning in 2003. Willinsky outlines the various struggles for and against open access since that time (i.e. the struggle between the idea that open access is a public good and the wheels of capitalism.) I will admit to being a little shocked by the idea that a scholar would have to pay anywhere from $1500 to $3000 dollars to have their work published through open access channels. This would be unthinkable in the humanities, where salaries and grant sizes are significantly smaller. I would worry that huge publication fees would eventually prohibit some of the smaller grant research projects from getting their work published, thus inadvertently replicating and reinforcing a system that privileges the bigger named universities and the wealthy.