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.

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