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?

5 Comments:

At 9:23 PM, Blogger lasthannah said...

Response to Elmborg article questions:
I didn't understand that Elmborg necessarily favored social constructivism until I re-read the article a bit. I still don't understand how its giving a student independence or empowerement when the teachers are simply "helping students understand assumptions" already set in the structure of academia. But I guess they are teaching people how to "work from the inside". i struggle with that some.
i don't think cognitive constructivism should be set aside either.

 
At 10:25 PM, Blogger Belle And Sebastian said...

With regards to the question of "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?"

I think that our role as information professionals is not to decide what is truth or not truth but to provide a forum in which each user of the information has access to the relevent arguements on all sides of a matter to come to their own conclusions. This is becoming easier with the world-wide-web and the shared access of journals across library systems online. It is not for the librarian to decide which documents get accessed by the user, but rather to provide access and faciliate the access to that information by being available to guide users\patrons in their searches so that they can come to their own conclusions.

What immediatly comes to mind when reading the article are questions of politics. But for some the questions might be of medical decisions - new treatments that might be on the cutting edge, for others their inquiry might be about history or a different perspective on current events. In all these areas we as professionals can provide an objective resource to the community - and as professionals a service to the user by helping them best define their searches to provide the user with the information they want at that time.

It is not ours to shape societies politics by favoring one voice over another, but rather it is our place to provide a forum for all voices.

 
At 12:01 AM, Blogger mijobrunelle said...

I think that Wiegand's concept of a "personal information economy" is similar to the "information ecology" concept in that both value small, localized information sharing communities and their specific informational needs.

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger Cory said...

Regarding the first question under Morris, it seems we are putting more and more pressure on the reference interview. We are are trying figure what exactly the patron is looking for, along with trying understand where they are in the process and help the patron understand where and how they can locate the information they are looking for. It seems to relate well with the ideas for the reference interview with the Ecologies and Teacheing at the Desk book and article. All are favoring a more relational, educational type interview, not just a exchange of research needs and information.

I think this is a good thing overall, but it will take a lot more work and training for the librarian to be able to accomplish all of this. The user will also need to be educated on what they can expect at these interviews, because if they except one type of interview and get another, it could end up hurting their search rather than helping it.

 
At 11:59 AM, Blogger Frances said...

I've been thinking about Christine Pawley's questioning of library schools' ties to universities, and wondering what the full implications are. I see mostly the positive side, but what might we be giving up? What are some possible alternatives? I'm remembering that the library school here used to meet above the downtown public library.... what would it look like to have library schools located in different types of libraries (public, academic, corporate) today?

As a side note, Elissa Purvis and I met Wayne Wiegand last weekend and he gave us an update on his mom. She's still driving the Buick, still happy with it, and just put the 40,000th mile on it! And she still doesn't use the library.

 

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