Saturday, October 14, 2006

Questions for Discussion on Monday October 16 2006

“The Ugly Side of Librarianship: Segregation in Library Services from 1900-1950," by Klaus Musmann:

1. Why is it that immigrants were a more attractive group to advance than African-Americans? Was it because librarians had immigrant ancestors, whereas they weren't black? What are some other reasons for this difference in treatment?

2. How were services to African-Americans compromised by political policy (separate but equal)? How likely were competent librarians to end up in an African-American library?

3. Reflect upon the role of librarian as teacher. Do you think the treatment of African-American patrons would have differed if this aspect of librarianship had been recognized/conceived of earlier? If so, do you thing it would have made the situation better or worse?

4. What do you think was the core issue allowing segregation and the marginilization of African-Americans in libraries to continue? Was it a reluctance on the part of whites to educate and provide resources for the education of African-Americans? An inability on the part of African-Americans to lobby for rights in the library when there were other, more pressing, issues elsewhere? The social climate/racism? Or was it something else?

5. Are there groups that are still being treated in the way African-Americans were? What about, for example, the homeless? Are their library needs largely ignored because, for one, they lack a residence (which is usually required for a library card)? Are minorities still being marginilized?

"Information Technology and the De-Skilling of Librarians" -- Roma Harris

1. What are the advantages to having a paraprofessional handle cataloging? Are there advantages?

2. Why do you think women have traditionally taken over a position like cataloging? What draws men in the field to the administrative and technical aspects of the career?

3. What are the consequences to viewing the field of librarianship as so divided? Do we risk fracturing and compartmentalizing the profession by doing this? Should we, rather, seek to build understanding, rather than saying that one group is being harmed by the actions of another group?

"Librarians and party girls: Cultural studies and the meaning of the librarian" -- Marie L. Radford and Gary P. Radford

In light of Levy’s Scrolling Forward do you notice any parallels between his Whitman/Dewey framework and this article. Could “party girls” be seen as a Whitman style personality, taking life as it comes and celebrating all aspects of it? Conversely, are all librarians necessarily Dewey clones, obsessed with order and time management?

What implications does this stereotype of librarians as frumpy, unapproachable, prudes have on our profession? Is there anyway to alleviate this stereotype in popular culture? What is the best strategy to accomplish this?

How do male librarians fit into this stereotype? How does popular culture view the male librarian?

Looking at the websites discussed in this article, librarians seem to appreciate humor. What does this characteristic say about how librarians view their own profession? How do librarians see themselves? How do they define themselves and their profession?


At 10:00 AM, Blogger Frances said...

Regarding stereotypes, I think it's actually sort of flattering that librarians have such a strong stereotype, and the clothes-age-glasses part of it is just funny. When stereotypes get us in trouble, I think, is when they make people think of us as stern, intimidating, or stuffy. What I've run into more commonly is the sense that people don't want to "bother" librarians, especially reference librarians. Why is that, and how can we change it?

At 1:35 PM, Blogger Julia said...

That's an interesting point; I wonder if, instead of fighting the more superficial facets of the stereotype (the sweaters, for example), we need to focus on the approachability of the librarian. One librarian can maybe do so by smiling and having a candy jar on the desk, but what can be done on a larger scale?

At 10:45 PM, Blogger Belle And Sebastian said...

I think we need to remember not only our professional status, but also our humanity. If we remember both and reach out to the user as professionals and human beings we will go a long way towards making connections and breaking down barriers. It isn't just librarians that don't know how to smile - a lot of people have forgotten. Perhaps we could lead the way back.

At 3:13 AM, Blogger Eric Bartell said...

RE: What are the advantages to having a paraprofessional handle cataloging?
There certainly are advantages, such as saving money for libraries. However, it shows that even the "non-profit" sector is not as different in their employment practices than profitable businesses, as some people may think. One disadvantage is it might help in the decrease (possibly destructon) of the library profession as we know it.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Jamey said...

In regards to the immigrants vs. African-American question, it seems most immigrants were expected to simply assimilate into society because they were white and one way they could do this was by utilizing library services. On the other, African Americans were already apart of the society but treated like outcasts because of their skin color. The idea seems completely backwards to us now.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Becky Jean said...

Re: Immigrants v. African-Americans--I think Jamey has a point. It was a view of who would assimilate into the dominant culture. This was never really an option for African-Americans because the dominant culture was a White culture. The immigrants of this time period were those from Eastern European countries. They spoke another language but they were still a part of the "white race." Also, once the language and basic cultural barriers were broken, it was hard to distinguish 'immigrants' from dominant culture. The label 'immigrant' could be discarded; the label 'African-American' could not.


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