Thursday, February 9, 2012

reactions to Week 4 discussion topics

I’m running late this week as I had to get my third course prepared.  Now I can focus on your concerns and issues. 

A major discussion point was censorship and filtering. We, librarians and archivists, walk a fine line between providing solid, reputable materials for our patrons and censorship. It is not easy to strike that balance, especially when you, personally, have strong feelings about a subject. There is literature in our profession that will help you select materials and even provide reference in those tricky subject areas. A well rounded collection serves our public and our basic mission as librarians.

Filtering is a lot more complicated. Some of it is invisible, handled by the IT people; some is obvious. Fortunately, some of the passion about filtering has died down. Again, the subject is touchy, especially as libraries are seen as safe havens and even in loco parentis, protecting children from the real world. I do not have a good answer for you about how to handle the subject except to say that it is out there and definitely contentious and controversial. When the internet was first introduced into libraries, some actually selected the sites their patrons could visit. I do not relish a return to those days.

Career as a librarian or archivist is also a topic you dwelt upon. It is good and appropriate to question your career choice. My advice is to become as well rounded as you can. I sound like a broken record, but that’s the truth. You wand to be able to handle jobs and responsibilities in addition to those specialties you’ve honed before you attain the MLIS or through your coursework. Take courses that are interesting to you and engage in the literature and the discussion. Participation is one way of engaging. Set up some meetings with others who live nearby. I’m always happy to have you come and see me.

At the same time, many of you raised questions about marketing the library, its place in the community and the role of libraries promoting education of some sort. These are great questions to ask and continue to ponder. Where do you see yourself in the picture? What type of energy do you expend promoting the library, taking advantage of those “teachable moments”? The profession has many roles and many faces. You will find your role within librarianship as you grow into your positions.

The final sticking point was “Information as Document,” that mind boggling article and video. It was a difficult article to understand and apply to your knowledge or skill set. A few of you had great explanations of how to break down the article. Thanks for sharing. The theoretical concepts within the article should make you ponder the nuances of word and their meanings within a discipline. I always err on the practical side and try to find simpler, more universal concepts to convey to patrons. Librarians and archivists use lots of jargon as do many other professionals. It is important to be able to explain what you mean without using jargon. Thanks again to the students who provided examples and explanations about information, data, and documents.

On to week 5!

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