Friday, July 30, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Augmented Reality (AR) pretty well left me shaking my head and ultimately feeling pretty sad. I was excited to see how AR could be used in some environments. For instance, someone like me who is a big history nerd, would love to be able to be standing at Little Round Top at Gettysberg, or at Wounded Knee in South Dakota and use my phone to instantly have more information about the place I'm standing. To be able to layer a picture of the aftermath of either event over the view I'm actually seeing is increadibly exciting. On the flip side, the presentation we saw on AR also talked about how you will be able to use that same technology to garner information about the people around you, to see what they are tweeting or posting on face book, to see their stats and even ratings (based on what other people rate you). The presentation also showed how you could aim the app at a home and see who lives there, etc. and then insinuated that if you chose to opt-out of this sort of network and sharing that you will essentially be isolating yourself from your community. There were so many things I saw wrong here. Outsourcing your choices on who to be friends with to the people who rate them, the ability to gather information without the other persons knowledge and ultimately the way that this will remove the in-person, face-to-face relationships that are already becoming scarce. Even typing this I get a sense of sadness at where we may be heading. As someone who enjoys those spontaneous moments where you are standing someplace (we can use the Grand Canyon again) and you see the connection you have with the people around you by looking at them and seeing the same sense of awe you feel reflected on their faces, the idea that those moments will be replaced with looking at a screen is a shame. I hope we don't get to that point.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Do you know what those are? Exhibit A- Darwin's On The Origin of Species. Exhibit B: First Edition Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Why are they cool? Firstly there are the obvious reasons. Secondly- I held them. Not only did I get to hold them and look through them, but I also saw a 14th century Italian Book of Hours, a teaching book of The Gospel of John in both English and Mohawk from 1804 that was used by missionaries, a book of Aquinas' Study of Rome that had Queen Elizabeth's seal on the front (meaning it was her book) and a page from the Guttenberg Bible. I was in history geek heaven for the hour that Professor Lavender showed us the books that Syracuse has in Special Collections. A few other students (who shall remain nameless) were dosing off or staring into space as Professor Lavender quizzed us on historic events. I on the other hand couldn't sit still in my swivel chair as I wracked my brain for the answers. Professor Lavender: "What happened in 1588?" Me: "Spanish Armada!" Needless to say, I was having fun. Suddenly a whole new path opened up. Special Collections. Cool, old books. Two things I love- history and books- all wrapped up into one
So where does that leave me. With more classes to take for one. I think I will keep my options open for as long as possible- taking classes that would be relevant in both potential career paths. I think that was one thing I took away more then anything else. That there are so many different opportunities for librarians and that for someone like me, who love learning, and who has really varied interests, Librarianship provides a career that can tap into almost anything. I finished my week slightly more confused about where I'm headed, but really excited about taking the journey to get there!
One thing I was surprised by was the view that up until recently, research in the Library field has been poorly conducted. Ironic, right? As librarian we are there to help the patrons and the community when they need assistance with research, and yet we were failing ourselves by not using research effectively to move forward. On top of needing good research, we need to be able to conduct the research effectively. As someone who has done lots of research in the past for history classes, I only realize now (after reading the chapter and after taking 511) that I could be more effective as well and I'll be looking for a research methods class, or something similar, as I continue this program.
Haycock, K. & Sheldon, B. E. (Eds.). (2008). The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts. (locations 2609-2765 ). Westport, CT. Libraries Unlimited
I also liked thinking about how the set up of displays plays into it. I'm one of those patrons that can browse forever, be carrying stacks of books to the counter, and still pick up one more book if it's waiting for me on a display.
Once again- I've leaned how much I don't know about this field I've decided to go into!
Haycock, K. & Sheldon, B. E. (Eds.). (2008). The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts. (locations 2476- 2608 ). Westport, CT. Libraries Unlimited
Friday, July 16, 2010
Today, many people don't see the need for the librarian's help when finding information. Admittedly, for many years, I didn't feel like I needed one either. It was all there on the internet, or in many cases, at the bookstore. I think that what I look forward to is not just being that fairy godmother who finds the books, but also the person that can help you find anything, in any format. If you build the personal relationships with the patrons and the community, they will be able to come to you to get the answers they need because they know you will be there to help.
I can't wait to have those interactions and build those relationships with the community!
Source: Haycock, K., Sheldon, B. (Eds.) The Portable MLIS Insights From the Experts (locations 1990- 2321). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
A first we saw how librarians were nuetral, doing their job without neccessarily taking a stand on issues raging outside the library walls. However, when the fight began to come to them in the shape of banning books (like The Grapes of Wrath) and more recently with privacy issues including government entities looking for member information as it relates to security, librarians were left with the choice to do nothing or act. Which begs the question, do we, as librarians, have the responsibility to be a voice for human rights and social justice. I have varied thoughts on this.
In terms of banning books, I see it pretty clearly. All books have some sort of value and should be made available to the public. I don't much care if you think Harry Potter might make your child want to be a wizard, in fact I hope it does, becuase that means your child has an active imagination and a desire to read what is really a huge series of books. As a librarian I want to make sure that the public has the ability to gain whatever knowledge they are looking for.
Still, what if the knowledge they are looking for includes bomb building and floorplans for a public building? Yes, they have a right to come in and look. They even have the right to use a meeting room, or study desk or computer. Still, at some point the safety of my community, and their right to a safe environment has to outweigh the right of the individual who is looking to break the law. It's a fine line. I doubt the decision would come easy. There are only two outcomes, break the trust of the individual or break the trust of the community.
This also ties in with another issue, that of prejudice. You can't judge a person who enters the library on looks, race or religion. You have to be ready and willing to assist the public regardless of what they are looking for. This is one area in which librarians chose to take a stand during the civil rights movement. Jim Crow laws in the south still prevented African Americans from using the library, and this directly contridicted what the library stood for. Today the lines are less strictly drawn, but the attitudes and sentiments can still linger. It's up to us to create a safe and inviting environment for all patrons.
I will end with one last thought. The library as a nuetral means that it is a safe haven of sorts, but no place is free from the issues that exist around it. As librarians I think we have to be mindful of the political and social climate, while always remember it's the public we serve.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Starting with the Sumerians we saw how libraries have served many functions, and that these functions tend to come back around. A few quotes popped into my head: "everything that's old is new again" and "history is doomed to repeat itself". Both I think apply to libraries. Throughout history libraries existed within the trade market to collect and maintain commercial records, they functioned within the religious context to house religious writings, individuals maintained their own personal libraries, and beginnning with the great Alexandria Library served as a place for research and learning. Over the course of time these primary functioned repeated themselves depending on the core important beliefs of the time and place. Which brings us to the present and the mission of libraries today. The first modern library was in Boston, MA in the 1850's and it was open to all members of the public, managed by an elected board and was free to the public. Here we see the basis for the modern public library as we know it.
from Tolzmann, Don Heinrich, Alfred Hessel and Reuben Peiss. The Memory of Mankind. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2001
Here a point was brought up that I'd like to talk about a little more. The common held belief is that the modern public library is there to allow learning and exploration for the individual, there was also a belief that the library, especially the early libraries, were used as a means to indoctrinate. In the 1800's and into the early 1900's there was a mass of immagrants coming into the United States, each bringing with them a culture and set of beliefs from their home country. The entered the US and by and large most settled into communities that were held together by a common culture (think of places like China Town and Little Italy in New York City). The proverbial melting pot wasn't neccesarily the way it worked out. The library then, which was open to everyone regardless of country of birth, could be used to idoctrinate the masses with strictly Americanized ideas. For instance, Andrew Carnegie, who funded multiple libraries was looking for a workforce with strong work values, and the library could be used as a route for imparting those values. This, I think, is an interesting concept to look at. Carnegie, in particular, by funding the library and having a hand in what was offered may have been able to effect what information was being imparted to the public, but is seems unlikely to me that you would be able to indoctrinate an entire population of immigrants in this way across the board. It is something I plan on looking into further though as time allows.
Old Wayland Town Hall, Massachusettes. One room was set aside as a library, becoming the first public library. Historic Building of Massachusettes (http://mass.historicbuildingsct.com/?cat=127)
This brings us firmly into the present and forces us to look into the future. Today, the library combines the functions of the past as we serve the community. In the second half of the chapter we looked at the ALA and the function of the librarian. We saw how libraries hold four core beliefs that are to be upheld. They are: The belief in intellectual freedom, the belief in service and the public good, the belief in education and the belief in the value of the past.
One topic that was briefly brought up when looking at the belief of intellectual freedom was the rights of young people in the digital age. Beyond the idea of banning books, librarians are also sometimes asked to restrict the access younger patrons have in order to protect them from harmful and objectionable materials. This is a tricky subject, and one that I have a strong point of view on, and even I waver sometimes. It's my opinion that you should have access to everything. This comes from being raised in a family where if there was a book I wanted to read, regardless of reading level, I was allowed to read it. This resulted in my reading of several books that were probably innapropriate (my usual example is Jean M. Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series, which I read at 12, and from which I learned alot about the birds and the bees). However, it's my belief that every book has value and that you can learn something, so to restrict access to those is unfortunate. My thoughts generally carry over to the internet, but only to a certain extent. The thing that gives me pause is porn. In some cases schools put a search block on certain terms because they can yield results that are pornographic in nature, but those blocks can also result in the restricted access to educational sites, including medical sites that discuss anatomy. So what do you do? It would be time consuming and in the end impossible to try and block every porn site out there, and to blanket block using search terms would result in legitimate educational sites being restricted as well. I fall on the side of leaving everything open, and doing your best to keep an eye out for innapropriate use of the libraries computers. In the end, it's the parents job to give permission as to what a child is allowed to do.
The conclusion asked a series of questions and most looked at what role the library will play in the increased digital age. One question in specific caught my eye. Looking at young adults again, how will libraries be able to compete with the internet? I don't think it needs to. I think that you have to meet the kids where they are, and right now they are on the internet. I'll admit, that until last year, I was not a library person. I was a book person, and I read all the time, but I did not frequent the library, which is located convieniently 3 blocks away. I didn't really see the use, I could get what I wanted from the book store, or Amazon or from online, and it was only the fact that I was going quickly book-poor that I turned to the library, and quickly realized what I was missing out on. For teens, the instant access to the computer is invaluable. They are pulled in a million different directions with school, and sports and other extracurriculars, the time to go to the library is slim, especially if they have to get a ride, etc. I love working with teens and with Young Adult books, and I hope to go into that field at a public library when I graduate. I think that even though it is time consuming, creating facebook pages, a blog, newsletter and planning events to specifically reach teens is invaluable. You do what you can to get them interested, keep them interested, get them in the door and keep them coming back. You can use non-book related events, like dance classes, or author chats and contests to get them interested. By meeting them where they are, you can keep them connected and keep the library in their minds a place to go, even if it is only online.
Marcellus Free Library- Children's area- making reading fun for kids
Overall, this chapter covered alot of ground and gave me lots of food for thought. I finished it wanted to look into some topics in more detail, and thinking about the future of libraries in general.
Haycock, K. & Sheldon, B. E. (Eds.). (2008). The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts. (locations 175-347 ). Westport, CT. Libraries Unlimited