Sunday, November 17, 2013

Librarians as Platform

My understanding of libraries has grown tremendously throughout this semester.  The idea of the library as a platform resonates with me and I believe that this platform undoubtedly facilitates knowledge creation.  In many of my courses this semester I feel as if I've been giving the resources and the tools to succeed, but it is ultimately up to me to make it work.  I feel as if this is an adequate representation of what a library should strive to be.  

By sharing their experience, librarians are able to accommodate the needs of their patrons while distancing themselves from that of a tutor.  The library is their to provide resources, a physical space as well as a list of services, which may include tutoring, for the individual to succeed.  The example of the community garden at the Onondaga Public Library is a perfect example of how the library can be a platform beyond the stacks.  I think how the library positions itself within the community is up to the librarian.  The library can be whatever the community needs it to be so long as the librarian allows it to happen.    

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Why Libraries

Professor Lankes made several good arguments about why libraries exist and why they need to continue to exist.  Perhaps the most interesting thing that was discussed in the lecture was the cost of online databases.  As a student, I take for granted the access we have to these resources.  If I had to pay any amount of money to use the resources I would probable not do it (Yes, tuition pays for it, but I don't look at it in those terms).  I feel like it is a public service having access to these resources and one that is needed.

Another interesting point raised was that Libraries generate more economic growth than the cost to run the libraries.  I know there are groups of people that want to completely defund libraries and I wonder if they're aware of this data.  I even wonder if the data would matter to certain people because while libraries produce economic growth they don't operate as a business with the intention of making money.

What will be the role of libraries in the future is a question that I have begun to think about while taking this class.  I don't think I have enough experience in the field to truly put forth a valid opinion.  However, I have learned that librarians provide valuable services to the community and I have started taking advantage of these services this semester.  The online reference librarian offered through the ask 24/7 service has been extremely beneficial to my research on projects.  If i'm having trouble finding information or am just too lazy to look deeply, the reference librarian happily assists me to what I'm looking for.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


This weeks thread dealt with Librarians.  Again the text has hammered the idea that librarians are proactive agents rather than passive workers.  It is becoming increasingly apparent that the role of librarians has expanded and that expansion is necessary for the field to thrive.  The Salzburg Curriculum lays out a lot of interesting points about what is the objective of librarians.  I did disagree with a few of the points, but overall I got a lot out of this chapter.

One of the things that I disagree with is the idea that libraries must start to move away from collections.  I believe I disagree with this point because I'm hoping to work in an archive with this degree.  While archivist and librarians are two different professions, I don't see a lot of correlation with New Librarianship and archives.  Archives are extremely artifact based and the community they serve is much more selective.  I am not far enough in my education to put forth a sound argument on this topic, but I am curious to know about how librarians and archivist see each others profession respectively.

A thing that I strongly agreed with in the text was the idea that librarians need to be involved on the internet.  I personally have been using the online librarians that the university provides, whether it is an SU librarian or a reference library from a different state.  I did not know about this service until I became a library student, but I found that the service is extremely helpful.  While the answers I get from the online librarian aren't always the best, they still serve as a great resource to finding information.

One more thing that I thought was interesting from the text was the two pictures of the Music Reading Room.  It is apparent that the collection of artifacts from a 50 year period had become so large that the library space itself seemed to suffer.  I understand that artifacts are only a small part of what librarians do and there does need to be a movement that allows for collection in libraries but, does not take up the whole library space.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Improving Society

The improving society thread was the thread assigned to my group for peer instruction.  To learn more about how public libraries improve society, we were able to meet with the librarian of Cazenovia Public Library.  Betsey Kennedy, the director of the library, is doing incredible things at Cazenovia.  Her library served as a great example for what New Librarianship can achieve in a community and how the library can facilitate societal improvement.  Betsey is actively involved in her community and is always looking for ways to increase community involvement.  Her library hosts movie nights, offers tutoring, and has kid activities.

The Cazenovia Public Library seeks to improve society according to the communities needs.  Inspired by Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, Betsey is currently fundraising to implement a similar program in Cazenovia.  The program's aim is to get children who don't have access to books (as well as those who do) a new book each month.  The goal of this program is to promote early childhood literacy.  Betsey was very passionate about this issue as well as informed.  It seems like she was going beyond her obligations of her library to promote this cause as well as many others.

Another thing that I found interesting in regards to improving society about the Cazenovia Public Library was the fact that there was a legitimate museum attached to the library.  Betsey gave us a full tour as well as a background as to how the library came to acquire a museum.  A wealthy man of Cazenovia in the early 20th century traveled to Egypt for the purpose of buying a mummy.  This mummy, which is 2000 years old, is currently displayed in the museum along with a ton of artifacts.  Betsey made an interesting point, that the wealthy man brought the mummy to Cazenovia because many commoners would never be able to travel to Egypt themselves.  The library served as a place where community members could see artifacts and exhibits that they would not normally be able to see.

I recommend anyone who is interested in public libraries to go and visit Cazenova.  It is a prime example of New Librarianship and how libraries have the ability to improve society.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


The idea that the community places certain pressures on librarians to accommodate their needs is central to this weeks reading.  As I read through the Atlas I'm starting to see a pattern emerge, that it is the librarians responsibility to understand who their community is and what the goals of that community are.  That is not to say that librarians tell the community what they want, but rather a working relationship that is built together.  The example of a library opening a garden for its members shows that the library understood its community's needs and facilitated a resource to create knowledge.  Not all learning is accomplished through books, new librarianship goes beyond the status quo and asserts that the librarian's role is to create a platform for learning rather than being simply a reference source.

In public libraries its easier for me to see the needs of the community facilitated through the library.  The example of the public library opening different centers for sub communities shows new librarianship in action.  The music center within a library example stood out most to me because I've been to a show at a library in Carpinteria before.  While I was there I didn't think too much about it, but now after reading the Atlas I understand that the library facilitated its community's need.  Hardcore shows often have trouble keeping venues as they are not lucrative events and they also can be seen as very abrasive due to the loud aggressive nature of the music. Still there exists a hardcore community within Carpinteria and the goal of the musicians is largely not to make money, but rather perform their music.  The library facilitated the community's need for a music venue.

The thread did a good job at addressing how new librarianship works into all types of libraries.  For me personally I hope to find work in an academic library or an archive after I finish my studies.  I was having trouble seeing the correlation between new librarianship and academic libraries because the community academic libraries serve is much more static than public libraries.  Within in an academic library, new librarianship exists through facilitation of scholarly conversation and a pressure from the academic community for participation does exist.  Lankes does show that new librarianship aims to bring librarians together rather than subdivide them.  Ultimately every new librarian has the mission to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.  Just because a librarian works in a different setting does not mean the mission changes.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


This weeks reading dealt with facilitation and how it relates to the mission of new librarianship.  The thing that stuck out most to me was the idea that literacy creates power and that librarians facilitate the brokerage of power.  History has shown that illiterate populations are often taken advantage of in political systems.  The library, by giving the individual the ability to become literate, effectively gives that person the ability to look after their best interest and therefore gain power.

Lankes shows that the term literacy has been pigeon-holed to the ability to read and write.  In the broader sense, literacy is the ability to recognize patterns in information and to be able to apply that information in a larger context.  While I agree that literacy does give the individual power, I don't believe this power is as far reaching as the text implies.  Legislation continues to infringe upon the rights of many underrepresented groups (voter suppression, gay rights, immigration ect).  While the literate portion of these groups are able to protest, organize, and advance their cause, they still face a largely uphill battle against those with appointed power.  It can take months or even years to achieve their desired goals.  While this would be considered a victory to most, I believe it is a very optimistic view on how literacy and power are related.

Another thing that I found interesting in the text was the idea of environment and how it relates to the physical safety as well as intellectual safety of the individual.  I very much agree with the stance that libraries have taken on the intellectual safety and privacy of their members.  Unfettered access to information provides the best opportunity for individuals to excel in their studies.  I thought Lankes had a great example about filters on the internet and how schools block access to students when there is a qualified teacher available, but let the students go home to search it on their own.  While I believe some filters are necessary, having an expert available while searching seems to be the greatest resource available to the user.

One last thing that Lankes brought up that I thought was an interesting point was how libraries allocate space.  He suggests that the library could be used for community groups own personal sections.  I thought that this was a great example of how libraries could facilitate information to their specific community.  The library for me personally has always been a place where I could find legitimate sources of information.  I have really only used the library for academic purposes though.  While this is a great idea for public libraries, I don't know how effective it would be for academic libraries, but then again I don't really know the role of communities and academic libraries well enough to form a concrete opinion.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I've never thought about the concept of knowledge at such a deep level until I read this weeks thread.  I fully grasped the idea that conversation is what creates knowledge and that conversations can happen internally as well as externally.  I liked the idea that the library is a quiet place where individuals can have loud internal conversations.  This is probably why I became irritated when a guy answered his cell phone in the "quiet area" of Bird Library (really guy?).  It was the internal conversation that I was having with the text that allowed me to form agreements with the author.

These agreements only became possible through the use of language.  The Atlas discussed two types of languages; L0 and L1.  Before reading this text whenever I would listen to my friends talk about gear (amps), I would be completely lost.  Now I know that I am lost because they are speaking a subject specific language, one that I am not familiar with.  The use of L0 and L1 language in searches was also an interesting topic.  In regards to library databases, I don't believe that L0 is as effective as L1.  During my undergrad we had a librarian teach us how to use the university's databases...I did not listen to what she said.  Instead I would go on databases like JSTOR type in a keyword and use the first article I found.  Had I known about Boolean or any other L1 library terminology I guarantee I could have found better results.

Another thing that I found interesting in this thread was the idea that artifacts do not hold knowledge.  The examples in the book and the ones online were very effective.  The Gutenberg Bible to me is important because it represents an innovative and pivotal time in history.  Others would say its important because it is the word of God.  Knowledge is brought to the artifact and while the artifact can be important in the context of a conversation, it cannot create knowledge on its own.