Community Centered International Librarianship

17 10 2008

    My interest in international librarianship is simply and best put like this, in my experience working with the underprivileged, many are the children of recent immigrants.  It is my intent to work toward an equality of opportunity.  Since many who are among the population that does not share in the opportunities of majority culture are recent immigrants or the children of recent immigrants, a knowledge in international librarianship would help me prepare them, help me to give them the equality of opportunity the nonimmigrants in the same programs receive.  I guess my interest in international librarianship can be related to the localism bumper sticker that reads, “think globally, shop locally.”  My interest in international librarianship is to the extent that one who engages that knowledge can say, “I am interested in international librarianship to the extent that it can be used to improve the situations of those around me.”

  I guess I’d really like to go to a library and appeal to a librarian who specializes in the international stripe of librarianship.  Better yet go to an international type library and ask any of the workers.  If I was able to go to any of these places, I could also take the people I mentioned above with me and they could learn how to engage this type of librarian, collection or library. 

  I think I have found enough written by scholars in the field that supports my thoughts to feel that this is an acceptable way to think about and engage the ideas of international librarianship.  See the lecture by Peter Lor, What’s So International About International Librarianship?  and the book, International Librarianship: A Basic Guide to Global Knowledge Access, by Robert Stueart.  In the book, one of the points or areas Stueart lists as as important to the field and in need of work is,  “Identifying international philanthropic agencies, which can facilitate development of international information services.”  I think that could very easily mean an exchange in information between people like I desribe, people working with immigrant populations trying to get them the equal access of the nonimmigrnats in the same programs.  This could be a simple exchange of what works but could be much more developed and greatly expanded upon.

  Since I have not spent a lot of time in this specialized area, international librarianship, any and all comments, recommendations, etc are needed and welcomed. 


Lists of Evil Books

20 05 2008

I found a list of Books That Screwed Up The World, by some guy. It is decent, fun to compare with my own. I don’t think the Communist Manifesto by Marx & Engels belongs on the list. I also disagree with The Prince by Machiavelli. Missing from this guy’s list but present on mine are, The Bible – old testament & new -(I know it’s a collection of books), The Qur’an and The Bell Curve by Hernstein & Murray.
The bible has been used as a justification for the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch hunts, slavery, homophobic hatred, etc. The Qu’ran has been used to justify female circumcision, many a fatwa, the 9-11 attacks, suicide bombings, etc. One may make the arguement that these religious texts are responsible for much good as well. It is my contention that there are many books which do the same, with little or no negative influence, Shakespeare, Rousseau, Emerson, Thoreau, Bonhoeffer… Even ‘militant’ books like On War by Clausewitz or Autobiography of X by Malcolm X have not brought about as much harm as they have good. In fact, one may get the same morality lessons from many other sources. Religious texts certainly do not have a monopoly on morality lessons. They do, on the other hand, have a near monopoly on genocidal inspiration.
The Bell Curve uses pseudoscience and weakly supported (read one-sided) analysis to legitimate racial and class disparity. The authors start with the assumption that minorities and the underclass are less intelligent than the majority and the rich. They then set out to back up their assertion. Rather than taking the data and drawing a conclusion, they start with the conclusion and select the data they use. They do not discuss at all differences in the education recieved by the two groups as having an effect on this. They do not discuss the difference in opportunity possessed by the two groups. Their assertion reads like this- poor people and minorities are not as smart as the majority and rich people. Both groups had the opportunity to go to a free public school. Both groups do not perform the same at the schools, therefore one group must be genetically better than the other. It is a very juvenile train of logic. Are Quakers genetically inferior because they can not operate a microwave? Is it logical to blame the abused for the abuse? The Bell Curve gives these questions a resounding “YES!” So this book is one of the very few books to come out in the late 20th century that the usual suspects can appeal to and cite when making racial arguements vs the huge amount of literature one may point to when backing the idea that race has no statistical value in determining one’s cognative ability, Jonathan Kozol comes to mind.

survey says

21 04 2008

  Recently, while writing a paper for an LIS class on research methodologies I ran into a bit of a wall.  The instructions were to pick a population and propose some methods I would make use of in studying this group.  I chose to use a survey, of the paper questionnaire type, the brief interview and the intensive interview.  The paper stipulated that we must defend our choices, attempt to predict what ethical issues might arise due to these as well as predict what other kinds of problems might arise due to our choices.  We were also to list EVERY other method and explain why we did not use these methods.

  Here is the wall -> 5 pages MAX. 

  I was up to 9 pages while just defending and accounting for problems that might arise with the paper survey.  I still had two more methods to defend and a profusion of methods to defend my choice not to use. 

  The survey has a lot of built in problems that, if not accounted for, could ruin the data accumulated.  This is taught in intro soc, psych and anthro class I’ve taken.  You have leading questions, “Isn’t it easier to X than Y?” & double barrel questions, “Using a computer & my own skill set is enough for me to find the item I’m looking for.”  You also have the threatening question area, a set of questions that deals with things that are illegal, conter-normative or personal.  I felt, and still feel, that these issues needed to be addressed to properly justify and defend my survey. 

  The above points do not even cover the benefits of survey v other methods.  Surveys are a less costly way to accumulate data, you get more respondents than with other types.  Each of these requires an explaination as well.  I am tired of my incessant whining but, seriously, a five page paper?  Am I not in grad school?  Didn’t I just read about 200 pages in the units this paper is covering?  Isn’t that a ratio of 20:1?  Isn’t that a lot of condensing (condensation)?

  In the words of Loverboy, “turn me loose.”

Cross-Discipline Study

10 04 2008

In an online chat with my 5053 class I felt the need to keep referring to material outside of the LIS field to back up my points. The reference that lost everybody was when I referenced Ellul and his perennial favourite, The Technological Society. The book is a little hard to get through and Ellul is wrong in some places but, I still like it- a lot. It sort of predicts the Googlization of Everything, the factors that would arise to cause a need for open source, creative commons, copy left, etc. Mind you, he wrote this in 1967.
All that is just a long winded segue or rational behind me bemoaning the fact that there is no cross-discipline course(s) offered in the LIS program here at OU. Every academic, I hope, has heard, maybe even danced to, cross-discipline’s greatest hits; social psychology, (socio)cultural anthropology, sociolinguistics even theosophy (just for fun). Many of the early models of information we studied borrowed heavily from communications models and theory. That there is no cross-disciplinary tradition feels counterintuitive. Perhaps I will opt for an independent study as I get closer to the end of this program and there I will study across disciplines. Then I can stop whining, probably.