Saturday, September 30, 2006

Discussion Points for Monday, Oct. 2.

Hegemony’s Handmaid: The Library and Information Studies Curriculum From a Class Perspective by Christine Pawley
1. When analyzing social class in the LIS field, why do you think the author calls the article “Hegemony’s Handmaid?” How does this relate to the traditional model that has been upheld in the field?
2. Pawley states that with the new “information revolution” we must choose to create a profession out of LIS that is devoted to either class privilege for the backing of corporate values or we can potentially lose the class privilege for the ability to give information to everyone in the community. However earlier in the article she claims that it is not the lack of information skills that are keeping people in low paying jobs; it is the presence of low paying jobs themselves that are keeping people there. Taking these two comments into consideration, which path should library systems look into: preserving class and information at the risk of further spreading the information gap or offering information to all at the cost of losing corporate backing? How would a course designed to look at the library's role in society look? If you were designing the curriculum, what would you include?
3. If the issue is to be abreast of the current societal thinking in order to effect positive social change, can one not ask whether this really is an issue to be taken up in the pursuit of a professional degree? Should LIS be concerned about such social issues? If so, what ethical/moral basis should be used in order to make the proper decisions? Isn't adapting to the "modern academic theories" another attempt of proliferating the established scholastic (and at times ivory tower) hegemony? Additionally, is this too much for the LIS student? In other words, there are so many other things to be learned (technologies, etc.) what must be given up in order to peruse the theoretical issues? Is this better off left for other academics/fields/professions?

Teaching at the Desk: Toward a Reference Pedagogy by James K. Elmborg
1. Elmborg argues the primary role of the reference librarian in an academic institution is teaching reference, and because reference and writing are so closely connected, reference librarians should adopt an interdisciplinary approach and keep in mind the principles of academic writing in their reference interviews. How does such an approach to reference work affect the relationship between the librarian and the user? Can you foresee potential problems with the model of academic librarian as teacher? If so, what are some possible solutions?
2. Keeping the earlier questions in mind, is it realistic to ask a reference librarian to change their "reference style" for every inquiring patron? Does Elmborg's comparison of librarians to composition studies work? What other partnerships could be beneficial to librarians? Does educating patrons really impose a threat to the librarian profession like Marecella Genz stated? Are the reference methods Elmborg discusses applicable to other kinds of libraries such as a public or special library? Could the same protocol be used in any of the other kinds of libraries?
3. Elmborg argues that the disadvantage of the "cognitive constructivism" model for reference desk management is that the librarian cannot properly diagnose the information-seeker in such a short period of time. Instead, Elmborg favors the "social constructivism." The question becomes whether doing this is any more feasible than what the "cognitive constructivism" model demands for the reference librarian to do.

Toward a User Centered Information Service by Ruth C.T. Morris
1. How does the model of information service in this article treat the reference interview? How does this treatment compare to other articles and books you have read like Information Ecologies or Teaching at the Desk?
2. Morris comments on how the mindset of the user and their attitudes towards information are objective and external. Many people who have this mindset eventually turn to a more constructivist approach once they are some part into their research; however it would seem more beneficial to have this change occur earlier. What can libraries and librarians do to initiate this mindset change at the beginning of someone’s research or even before it is started?
3. Do you feel that librarians only serve as mediators of information like Morris suggests or do librarians already serve as the problem-solving facilitators Morris is looking for? What are the economic implications of changing libraries over to a user-centered system? Will these systems continually need to be updated due to the ever changing user needs and wants?

Mom and Me: A Difference in Information Values by Wayne Wiegand
1. Wiegand presents the idea of a "personal information economy" (58). How does this compare to the ideas presented in Information Ecologies or Information as Thing?
2. Are libraries/librarians losing the cultural aspect of our profession like Wiegand suggests? What are ways to compromise between the cultural and the technical?
3. When looking at the library in the life of the user rather than the user in the life of the library in regards to personal economy there are limitless variables and biases that librarians will deal with. What should the first step in helping someone who is seeking information be while taking these things into consideration? How can looking at a “personal information economy” assist librarians in understanding information needs to make it more accessible to all?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Speaking of Google infringing on copyrights

I found an interesting article in light of the readings for class today. Google was just successfully sued in Belgium for violating copyright privileges, and this article mentions that robot.txt option for having search engines pass over your material. Some interesting food for thought...


LIS 450: Information Agencies and their Environment: Questions for Monday's Discussion

LIS 450: Information Agencies and their Environment: Questions for Monday's Discussion
Scan A Book
Yes, we do have the capacity to scan every book and material around us. However, the question is just because we can, should we? I am not at all certain that this is an efficient way to use our time, funds and skills. We as human beings need to have a purpose for all this information. We need to be able to edit, organize and understand the function of information in a rational way. Perhaps our time would be better spent attempting to organize the barrage of information that is thrown at us everyday first.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Questions for Monday's Discussion

Information As Thing
Here are some things to think about. Please feel free to comment on any or all of these questions.
1. On page 354 of Information as Thing, Buckland refers to Wersig's view of information as coming from three sources, two of which Buckland says correspond to information-as-thing.1) Information is derived by sheer perception of phenomena; and 2) information is acquired by communication. Can you think of any other ways information-as-thing could be described? What are some examples of the phenomena of perceiving information, and how do we as individuals process that phenomena and form information?
2. On page 353, Buckland states that " is reasonable to viewinformation-as-thing as evidence...", and that,"If something cannot beviewed as having the characteristics of evidence, then it is difficult to see how it could be regarded as information." Do you agree that"evidence" is a good way to describe "information as thing?" Can youthink of a better possibility for a synonym?
3. What are the wider implications of Buckland's ideas, if any?
4. I would, I guess, be in the campof those theorists whom Buckland states "have dismissed the attributive use of 'information' to refer to things that are informative." Even the author seems to have trouble justifying his "careful examination" of "information-as-thing," stating onceagain in his summary that "Being 'informative' is situational and it would be rash to state of any thing that it might not be informative, hence information, in some conceivable situation." If anyone in our class could make sense of this, I would love to hear their opinions.

Scan This Book
1. In Scan this Book! Pg. 5, Kelly writes that the universal library becomes the �world�s only book. Are there dangers to this approach? Do you think all this scanning will be worth it in the long run, or will it just be a flop like e-books?
2. In his article "Scan this book!" Kevin Kelly exposes himself as an obvious technophile and clearly identifies with taking advantage of technology to build this 'universal library' of all works of human product known to the world. Besides the copyright battle between Google and publishers, what are some other pros/cons of establishing a library that Kelly calls "truly democratic, offering every book to every person" (p.1)? In the end, which side will win: compiling all these works and building such a library from the technology of today or not?
3. Is Kelly creating a false dichotomy here? Are we really at war with technology, or are there, as Nardi and O'Day suggest, many ways to compromise?
4. If/when we have the universal library,will access to actual books still be available? There are someinstances when the actual book will be more appropriate than a scan. "It is these underbooked-students in Mali, scientists in Kazakhstan,elderly people in Peru-whose lives will be transformed when even thesimplest unadorned version of the universal library is placed in theirhands" (3 of 14). Where will the elderly in Peru be having access to theuniversal library? And from what I know about the elderly, then aren'treally too keyed up to be hopping on the Internet to find information. Especially if the universal library turns into one giganticWikepedia-type hyper-linked source.

The Power to Name

1. In her article "The Power to Name..." Hope A. Olson makes frequent use of a standard dictionary's definitions to reanalyze Charles Cutter's philosophies. Did you find this change in perspective helpful, harmful, or no different? Did it affect how you interpreted his statements, especially the one on p. 642, private/public library access?
2. Olson points out many faults of today's classification systems, butdoes anyone think that this problem could ever be completely fixed? Sure, improvements can be made, but with so many different users, eachwith a unique way of thinking, and so much information with differentinterpretations, will we ever develop a classification system thatserves everyone's needs?
3. By organizing and classifying information, are we changing the meaning of words? Are we changing how people think about certain words or certain information?i.e. In my home library catalog I type in the general keyword "Latino" and I get 207 hits, and I am told to See Also: Hispanic-Americans. When I do a general keyword for "Hispanic" I get 488 hits.The word Hispanic refers to people whose culture and heritage have ties to Spain, excluding indigenous people in Latin America who do not ansestrey linked back to the Spaniards. Latin America is a geographic location. People from Latin America are all Latinos but not all are Hispanics. So why does the library catalog give privilege to the term Hispanic? What does this imply?Another way to phrase the question: Does the cataloger (striving for universal language) affect public concept of words, or is the cataloger truly just an extension of the public viewpoint?
4. What implications exist when thinking about a search engine that would truely mix free text and controlled vocabulary searches? (Kind of a dumb question, but I'm interested to know.) If this technology already exists, why are we not using it?
5. Many students still attending school on a regular basis lack basic reading skills necessary for survival in the adult world. Ms. Olson's focus on the issue of fair representation in library catalogs would appear to be a low priority in the "real" world. Any comments?
6. The patriarchy in the classificationsystems really was brought to light in this piece. Although it isfrustrating to those of us who are classified in stereotypical ways,Olson does not have much in the way of a solution. While it isimportant to acknowledge classification systems need an overhaul, isn'tin futile to show it's failures without a way to fix it? Granted, itwill be hard perhaps impossible. Would it be better to have everythingclassified completely accurately? That would mean bazillions ofcategories for everything (especially if used in the context of theuniversal library).

On Nardi & O'Day's "Information Ecologies"

Initially, I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I studied Anthropology as an undergraduate (it's my first academic "love") so the language was familiar, and I could better understand their argument than I might have had it been written from a different perspective. I also thought it was kind of nifty to discover an entire section devoted to the underpinings of the library world by persons other than library scholars--not something you find every day. Throughout the book, they made a number of interesting and thought-provoking statements that really got me thinking about the role of technology in both our personal and professional lives.

As I continued to read, however, I started to feel as though their was something overly simplistic in their position (and the "We believe..." statements sort of started to grate on my nerves); it became a little preachy. The fact that the 2 studies that they conducted were at Apple and HP was interesting given that they are both (1) technological libraries and (2) the very type of institution in which Nardi and O'Day had been employed; I find it hard to believe that the studies they were conducting weren't influenced by an additional layer of outside influence given the situation. And, there was nothing really earth-shattering about their ultimate conclusions regarding effective and humanistic information ecologies--to be mindful of working from core values, to pay attention & vocalize your opinion, and remembering to always ask questions--seem fairly obvious--but creating technology with heart so to speak, no doubt takes much more than that; it's simply far too complex of an issue.

Last, but not least, I found it a little weird that they raised "the whole issue of values with some trepidation" (61) because that appeared to be one of their primary themes/concerns. Moreover, I was uncomfortable with their discussion of Postman's argument that the "information glut" is rapidly diminishing cultural values and instititions. While perhaps true on some level, a case could also be made for the idea that it serves to enhance them--or, at least the institions. It's also important to recognize that it's not technology per say that's to blame for the problems that arise as a result of its existence, but rather the people behind it whose inaction is in fact a decision; thus, any inaction by we the people as professionals, citizens, family members, what have you, is a form of action in and of itself.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rusch-Feja's "Libraries: Digital..."

I was glad this article was short. No doubt I'm in the minority here, but when I hear the word "virtual," I tend to fade out, for unlike many, I was not born technologically inclined (you may have noticed how long it took me to get my blog going!). However, there's obviously no doubt like the present to remedy the situation, and as I read Rusch-Feja's discussion, I began more to appreciate the complimentary relationship between the concrete and virtual realms as applied to the library role. Virtual realities are an amazing tool to be used when trying to obtain information, but, by definition, a tool cannot be without someone(s) to manipulate (or in this case navigate) it; the "hybrid library"--I'm all for it.

Tefko Saracevic's "Information Science"

I found Saracevic's conclusion that information science and librarianship be not one and the same particularly intriguing because I agree. Although I'm probably way off base, and readily admit, limitly informed, the term "information science" is rather cold, calling to (my) mind a grim, gray space. That's not the library I know! The library world may in many ways be much indebted to the field of information science--the two having evolved into partnering professions--but what the library gives to the community doesn't begin and end with technology; the human element is at it's core, for partnering with patrons in pursuit of knowledge is the purpose after all.

(Random thought: I love, love the eerie beauty of this quote, "Information is that which affects or changes the state of mind..." (p. 1054). Definitely a point to ponder.)

Wayne Wiegand's "Tunnel Vision..."

Wiegand's "Tunnel Vision and Blind Spots..." thoroughly resonated with my inner critic, yet I was most appreciative of the fact he, like me, does not appear to be devoid of hope; a motivated cynical idealist, perhaps? Although I think his argument that as librarians, we must both acknowledge and understand the past in order to head in the right directions is essentially a no brainer, it's probably fair to say that it's the "no-brainers" that people need most be reminded of. After all, even the most well-intentioned among us run the risk of serving thyself before others and/or catering to the powers-that-be as time rolls on. So such discussions are particularly poignant when we're all gung-ho and green students of the field. Hopefully, we'll be ones who wield the power in the not so exceptionally distant future; thus, it'll be up to us to retain the good and get rid of the rest.

Christine Pawley's "Libraries"

I appreciated Pawley's simple, yet detailed breakdown presentation of the various niches within the library world; it was a nice way to ease into the course, as well as the LIS program as a whole--at least for someone like myself, who knows precisely what I want to do, but am nevertheless still attempting to wrap my head around it all! How surprised the general public would be if they only knew...

I was particularly intrigued by the historical framework regarding the ideology behind the library as grounds of neutrality. It probably goes without saying (as I doubt I'm not alone here) that this ideal is one of librarianship's primary draws. That said, however, the realist/cynic in me recognizes the impossibility of such ideals--in the grand scheme of life, there's no such thing--and no institution is without bias/outside influence (i.e. donor power, gender roles, the expectation of the stereotypical happy female librarian...). So, perhaps, being aware of our professional limitations, along with the importance of our goals, while consciously seeking to close the gap is ultimately what truly matters. It's good to have something to strive for.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Relevant Material

John Updike, at the 2006 Book Expo, took offense to Kevin Kelly's article Scan this Book and the new process of digitizing books. He asks what happened to "accountability and intimacy." I'll include links to an edited transcript as well as the Book Expo podcast in case anyone wanted to check it out.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

"Information Ecologies" reading

The authors of this book stressed the approach of using technology with heart. I felt that this viewpoint was a bit naive. Where do we set our limits and how do we determine them? The authors often contradict this viewpoint, especially when they write that we can change technology but only when we participate and engage ourselves with it. This is a valid argument, until they add: "Resistance is sometimes a part of the strategy, but we believe it is a flawed approach if used by itself, because it disempowers" (215). I feel that using technology with heart also disempowers and that it is a form of resistance. I believe that the best part of the Internet is that it has the potential to overcome the influence of the mass media and government. As the authors write, technology does not often inhibit expression. It certainly is up to the user as to how to take advantage of this as he or she chooses. Many people do use the Internet irresponsibly, but as the authors write: "technology regulates always a step ahead of us...and has the potential to completely overwhelm us" (210). But it is only with the constant use and updating of technology that we can regulate it and begin to engage with it.
In other words, I completely agree with the authors that users and uses must continue to coevolve.

Class discussion ideas: Information Ecologies

(Since I'm leading class discussion this week, it's my job to post some reactions to the reading here on the class weblog at least 24 hours before our class meeting. The rest of you should be posting your own brief reactions, questions, critiques, and/or comments on the reading to your own critical response weblogs. If you like, you may also post a reaction to what I lay out here by clicking on the "comments" link below.)

Although Nardi and O'Day's book _Information Ecologies_ only had one chapter specfically about "librarians" (and a very particular subset of librarianship at that, corporate reference librarians) it seems to me that many of the social processes at work in the other chapters -- effectively using information systems in the workplace, training children on information tools and literacy, and representing identities and places online -- are wrapped up in librarianship as well. Are there lessons we might learn from the other "information ecologies" presented in the book?

Nardi and O'Day spend a good amount of time explaining why metaphors are useful tools for thought, and why they constructed their "information ecology" metaphor. But metaphors are both useful and deceptive. They call to mind certain factors, associations, and "affordances" (to use a Nardi and O'Day term) but they mask and minimize others. What other metaphors besides an "information ecology" might we use for a library (or for various types of libraries, such as public, academic/research, school, and archive)? In what ways are libraries themselves used as metaphors for wider social phenomena (like the idea that the World Wide Web is a "global library")?

Nardi and O'Day talk about the "heart" by making explicit reference to the need for shared "values" in a healthy information ecology. But they only show one case of a "dysfunctional" information ecology where those values are disputed and contested. In fact, in general, notions of power and conflict seem to be absent from their analysis. Are values so easily discovered and agreed upon? Are information ecologies only "healthy" if they exhibit single-minded agreement on mission, purpose, and ideals of what is good? What "core values" do (or should) libraries and librarians share, and what values may be argued about or fought over without tearing apart the information ecology of the library?

Comments on any of these ideas are welcome (just click on the link below). Otherwise, hope we can talk about them tomorrow in class.

Information seeking doesn't sleep...

Just a note that you can check out my response to this week's book at my blog : The text editing software leaves something to be desired - so bare with me about the choppy indentation and paragraphing. Just consider it free-verse poetry.

Friday, September 15, 2006

RE: Christine Pawley, "Libraries" article
Overall, I thought this article was a comprehensive and quick history with a minimum of comment on the facts to avoid clouding the information with too much opinion.
I don't think that the way libraries are changing to incorporate digital and electronic material threatens the traditional library as much as Dr. Pawley suggests. Certainly, the library has had to adapt to the expansion of digital and electronic media, and there is still an ongoing process as these new techologies play out for us. But, for many library patrons, (and this is based on my almost daily trip to the local library down the street to read the paper) the public library is the physical place of choice for gaining access to most of these materials.
I agree with the growing concern of preservation and conservation via the digital and/or microform world. Paper is relatively cheap and durable, although there are storage concerns, and you don't have to plug it in. But digital and microform storages can provide the average library user with so many more materials with the downside that they are problematic in their vulnerability to obscelence and are far more vulnerable, at this point, to the ravages of time.
It's also interesting to explore how the concept of collection management has evolved histrorically based on competing political and philosophical perspectives.

RE: D.D. Rusch-Feja's "Libraries: Digital, electronic, and hybrid"
I liked this article because it discusses the digital and electronic library and its expansion into the tradititonal model and the attempts to standardize and quantify how to organize this vast technology. The conept of the hybrid library is what we seem to be heading for as we try to synthesize this melange of print, electronic, media, photographic, musical, etc.
It's interesting to note just how much we currently take interoperability for granted in a typical search.
I agree with the concern that there is a need for quality control and validity checking, and I share the concern that the information we all value as a freely available resource to anyone who needs it will be increasingly restricted to those who can pay for it.

RE: Wayne E Wiegand, "Tunnel vision and blind spots: ..."
A very interesting presentation of a more philosophical perspective of the history of librarianship, asking of librarians the need for further research into the actual role of libraries instead of the perceived one.
Dr. Wiegand points out some grave inconsistencies in our assumptions about libraries as neutral, altuistic instutions for the benefit of everyone, and the lack of empirical information to better address these inconsistencies.
Leads in nicely with it's call for more in depth bridging between user study and library science to what Information Ecologies addresses next week.

RE: Tefko Saracevic "Information Science"
This article is a discussion of the basic schism between the scientific part of the field and, sort of, all the rest.
As Saracevic points out, there is little travel between the systems- based and human- based approaches to information science and, though there are some attempts, there is little being done to bring these two approaches together.
I agree with Julia, it's a collosal mistake to build a system for human users that doesn't take into account the humans using it.

News article: "Unable to Repeat the Past" (Los Angeles Times)

From time to time I'll post interesting news articles that relate to "information agencies and their environment" to our course weblog. (You should feel free to do the same, as all students are authorized to post on our weblog's "front page".) This morning someone pointed me to a Los Angeles Times article entitled Unable to Repeat the Past which talks about the risks we information professionals take when we trust long-term data storage to digital methods:

Digital storage methods, although vastly more capacious than the paper they are rapidly replacing, have proved the softest wax. Heat and humidity can destroy computer disks and tapes in as little as a year. Computers can break down and software often becomes unusable in a few years. A storage format can quickly become obsolete, making the information it holds effectively inaccessible.

No one has compiled an inventory of lost records, but archivists regularly stumble upon worrisome examples. Reports detailing the military's spraying of the defoliant Agent Orange in Vietnam, needed for research and medical care, were obliterated. Census data from the 1960s through 1980s disappeared. A multitude of electronic voting records vanished without a trace.

Records considered at risk by the National Archives include diagrams and maps needed to secure the nuclear stockpile and policy documents used to inform partners in the war on terror. Much like global warming, the archive problem emerged suddenly, its effects remain murky and the brunt of its effect will be felt by future generations. The era we are living in could become a gap in history.

'If we don't solve the problem, our time will not become part of the past,' said Kenneth Thibodaux, who directs electronic records preservation for the National Archives. 'It will largely vanish.'

Anyone care to comment? (The full article continues at the link above.)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

9/11 Readings

Libraries by C. Pawley

It is interesting to see how libraries have changed from simply large collections of materials, mainly for the rich and learned to places where people from all walks of life can come for their individual interests and inquiries. Librarianship has shifted from simply keeping materials to an environment of service where it is the job of librarians to make it easy to find information, as well as helping and teaching users ways of finding information. With the “explosion in publishing” and the “explosion in digital information” (she likes talking about explosions) librarians have had to shift to become organizers, as well as innovators in new ways to keep track of this information and make it easily accessible.

Libraries: Digital, Electronic, and Hybrid by D.D. Rusch-Feja

Clearly libraries are trying to find new means of storing this wealth of information that bombards us from academe, the scientific community, the private sector and many others. This is where digital libraries come in. NASA and the NSF sponsored digitization projects, and universities were awarded grants to start their own digital library functions. One question I have is the one that Chris Rusbridge addresses. He argues that “a pure digital library could not exist because of legacy collections and services…” I am not sure though. With Google scanning thousands of books and people’s love of the convenience of the internet (you can go shopping in your underwear), how much longer until the idea of an entirely digital library becomes a reality?

Tunnel Vision and Blind Spots by Wayne A. Wiegand

The figures he gave were rather amazing and showed the true scope of how far-reaching the library as an institution is. He then outlines the history of modern librarianship, and for the most part it is a proud history. One such example is librarians being champions in the fight against censorship, even though there are challenges to this like McCarthy and now illicit websites. But the main point he is trying to make in giving us all this background is that library science as a field is not introspective enough. It does not conduct enough in depth research. It does not critically analyze technology enough. It also does not pay enough attention to the user of information. The unexamined library is not worth checking books out of.

Information Science by Tefko Saracevic

This was probably my favorite article out of the four. He gives a great quote right at the start from Sir Karl Popper that says, “We are not students of some subject matter, but students of problems.” Problems are the large key in this article. When we as students or professionals in a field look at things in terms of problems to be solved it makes things much more personal and much more manageable. We study these problems and try to find solutions for real life issues not simply highfalutin theories. He breaks down different areas of information science and these areas of studies are simply problems spots, things that we need to work on. He also shows the split between library science and information science. He tells us that there are different problems that each field deal with as well as different ways of dealing with them. Each specific academic realm has their own problems and it is these problems that define them.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Readings for September 11th

Libraries by Pawley
It was very interesting to see how someone in the profession chose to explain things to "others". For some of us this is our first taste of librarianship and from whence it came. I found it incredibly interesting and helpful in thinking of my future plans since I have no idea what way I want to go.
libraries: Digital, Electronic and Hybrid
Like Julia said in her posting, I like the idea of digital libraries. Being able to access information types from one location instead of going to many locations is very convenient. Seeing movie clips, hearing music clips, photographs, reading, will make information gathering for whatever purpose seem much more possible even for those who aren't technologically up to date!
Tunnel vision and Blind Spots
I thought the article by Wiegand felt very thorough. One of the first things that caught me off guard was the statistics he stated: "...More public libraries than McDonald's...More children participate in summer reading programs at libraries than play Little League baseball..." etc. I guess I had thought that libraries, in the brick-and-mortar style, had fallen out of use (or at least were beginning to). I'm glad that libraries don't try to dictate what is in a collection for patrons to utilize. I think it's more important to have materials available from which the patron is able to choose. What a librarian thinks is inappropriate or "best book"-worthy may not be something the patron agrees with. There are too many factors involved to say what is good and bad for all people. It was nice to see how people in the profession have realized what censorship can mean and have been taking a stand against it. I also found it interesting how he used major national events to show differentiation in time periods. I liked that as the framing of how and why things occurred the way they did.
Information Science by Saracevic
Many of the points brought up in this selection made me think of librarianship in a new way. "Information science, as a science and as a profession, is defined by the problems it has addressed and the methods it has used for their solutions over time." Instead of keeping up or rolling with the changes, Saracevic claims that information technologists have been using the newest technology to solve problems. As much as it pains me to realize it, computers and technology are NOT made to make life more difficult, they are designed to make life easier.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Notes on the first set of readings

We didn't have any class time to discuss today's readings, but I would still like to see you post reactions to your reader-response journal. Julia set a good example of tone and length in her blog LIS 450 Reading Reactions. (I'll try to pick on -- ah, I mean, highlight -- a different student response each week.) On the Wiegand piece, for example, she observed, "I was very surprised that there is a lack of library history, especially considering that so much of the work done in libraries is to maintain items from the past. I guess we don't like to look at ourselves! " As one of the SLIS professors who teaches LIS 569, History of American Librarianship, I've been surprised by this as well. (But don't fret too much; computer scientists are awful at writing their own histories as well.)

You probably got the gimmick of this week's readings: setting the "library" and "information studies" sides of our field in a bit of an opposition to illustrate how broad the world of LIS really can be -- and how one of the main difficulties in this field is bridging that gap. Here at UW-Madison, SLIS is known for having a center of gravity more toward the "library" side, but really this means that in our "information studies" work (of which there is much in our department), we never forget to consider the user of information, the uses of that information, and the context in which both come together. As Julia points out about the Saracevic article, "I found it interesting that there are information scientists who ignore the user. This just baffles me; what use is the information if it's not being used by someone?"

The September Project

Our first class is on a day filled with emotion and politics, and although we won't have time to discuss it in lecture, I wanted to make sure students knew about The September Project which was started by LIS professional David Silver:

The September Project is a grassroots effort to get people together on September 11th to talk about issues that matter. September Project events take place in libraries, where all people are welcomed, and where the exchange of information and ideas flourish. The September Project encourages individual communities — neighbors — to make sense of the world together.

David Silver is the co-director of The September Project and leads the project's outreach efforts. As a citizen, David believes libraries represent the heart, soul, and collective memory of our communities. As a reader, David looks to libraries, and librarians, for new ideas, new perspectives, and new solutions. His local library is the Ballard Branch of the Seattle Public Library. His work library is the University of Washington's Suzzallo Library.

If any of you participate in any September Project activities -- or would like to organize such an activity (there's still time) -- please leave a comment about it here.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Reader is in at last

Just got this from ASM Student Print: "Your LIS 450 course reader is complete. The price for your students is $20.50 with tax. We are open M-F 9:30AM-6:30PM" Find them in the basement of the Memorial Union.