Introduction to Library and Information Science/Re-contextualizing Libraries: Considering Libraries within Their Communities

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The library as community space[edit]

The library as third place[edit]

Library service to specific communities[edit]

Economically poor[edit]

Berman, S. (2005). Classism in the stacks: libraries and poor people. Counterpoise, 9(3), 51-55.

Information poor[edit]

There are two groups when it comes to learning and sharing information: insiders and outsiders. Insiders are people who are comfortable with society. Outsiders are people who are more withdrawn from society, and often feel removed from everyone else. Outsiders may be secretive, deceitful, and/or afraid to take risks. Insiders and outsiders rarely exchange ideas with each other, because they may be suspicious of each other, and have a difficult time with trust.

Chatman implemented three studies focusing on three theories (gratification, alienation, and diffusion). She wanted to figure out why the insiders and outsiders were so different. She concluded that race and socioeconomic standings played a role. If an individual is forced to not trust others, they will also have a difficult time with trusting information (giving or receiving).

If people are forced to survive on their own, how can they be expected to embrace "outside ideas"? Embarrassment may be a factor for the outsiders too. The last thing they want to admit is that they may not be as knowledgeable as others. There may be obstacles they need to focus on that are much more crucial than learning new information.

Many barriers, including physical, economic, and social barriers, prevent or hinder people from finding the information they need. Many outsiders face a combination of these barriers, and do not want to try to overcome them just to obtain more information.[1]

People with disabilities[edit]

Imagine having a disability and having no idea what to do. A library can be a wealth of information. They can connect the disabled person with organizations that can assist them. The library can also provide books, magazines, videos, products, and other resources to help the individual live independently. However, not many libraries are equipped with the information or the knowledge to be effective. A few suggestions to become better informed are to get on as many mailing lists of as many organizations for people with disabilities as possible and to use the Internet. Having the information is great, but it needs to be accessible. Libraries need to have assistive technology, like electronic magnifiers, machines that read aloud, modified keyboards, page turning devices, and assistive listening devices in order to serve this population. On top of having the accessible information, outreach services need to be used to bring people with disabilities into their community’s library. How could you disagree with this article? After many years working with children with physical and mental disabilities it is very evident that many libraries don’t offer programs and services to this population. It is very discouraging. Libraries are willing to bring in book collections for their culturally diverse populations but not for people with disabilities. Why doesn’t Dominican offer a course for providing services to people with disabilities? We offer courses for children and adults. Maybe this topic should be integrated into the curriculum of existing courses?[2]


Rural communities[edit]

Fulfilling the informational and recreational needs of rural Americans is an important but challenging task for libraries. Staff creativity has helped counter the effects of budget constraints and lack of resources. Librarians can reach many people by meeting with local clubs and adult education classes. Librarians have an obligation to speak out in the community and communicate with city government to ask for and offer support. Linda Johnson wrote a literature review that provides examples of rural library programs that benefit this underserved population. Outreach services include Books by Mail, bookmobiles, deposit collections, and services to nursing homes, shelters, schools, and to the homebound. Programs for children offer social interaction and learning and frequently involve parents. There is also a need to serve youths who receive homeschooling.[3]

Anne Nelson shared her experiences of growing up in a small town and using its even smaller library. The library went above and beyond in purposely trying to keep things “safe” and not controversial to “protect” its community. Anne was looking for her library to challenge her not shield her from the world and its history. She also believed her library didn’t reach out to the minority citizens of the community. She was convinced her library needed to establish itself as a “democratic institution” in order to be able to serve everyone in the community. As the title of this article states, Anne’s library failed her. [4]

Youth services[edit]

School and public libraries need to work together in order to provide the most effective services to the children/young adults of our nation. They are the future of this country and librarians can and should support their needs for growth and achievement. Libraries and librarians can help meet those needs in many ways. A few examples are:

  1. Provide a positive sense of self worth.
  2. Prepare them to use present day technology and to adapt to a changing technological world.
  3. Teach them to think critically in order to solve problems.
  4. Guide them in the process in becoming lifelong learners.
  5. Prepare them to communicate effectively – to listen, to speak, to read, and to write.

Even though this editorial article was written 16 years ago, it is still something that is relevant to the current times. It was an eye opener, and extremely helpful to read about all that is expected and what little assistance you sometimes receive. You would think librarians would have the resources, staffing, and facilities to effectively carry out this responsibility. It all comes back to library policies. As a future librarian, it is scary to see all that comes with the job but not see the support that is needed to perform it. Unfortunately politics are not something that all librarians want to get involved in. However, it is sometimes necessary to become an advocate in order to see the children/young adults, the future of this country, succeed.[5]


Whether you agree or not with the No Child Left Behind Act, it is here for the duration. This doesn’t just impact schoolteachers. School librarians play an important role in a child’s achievements, but it isn’t written out in concrete terms like it is for teachers. It is the librarian’s job to figure out their role in all of this. They have to become active, supportive, and a leader. They need to initiate special projects and collaborate with the schoolteachers and school specialists. They need to become an advocate for the school library and show everyone that it will assist in improving student achievement and NCLB scores.

This editorial article brings up a great point that hasn’t been brought up before in the GSLIS program. The No Child Left Behind Act has an affect on both school libraries and public libraries. Everyone needs to support all children and their efforts to achieve greatness. As an early childhood educator and future school librarian, the importance and necessity of school libraries and children’s/youth departments in public libraries is clearly evident. It will be part of the job, as a school librarian, to convince everyone else of this while maintaining effectiveness.[6]


The relationship between exposure to media violence and aggressive behavior by the viewer has been a major debate for almost 20 years. It is more likely for a child to be aggressive if he or she is reinforced for his or her aggression or if he or she is the object of aggression. In many cases, exposure to media violence increases the chance that a child will respond to frustration with aggression. The following variables may also play a part in the child’s aggression:

  • Intellectual achievement
  • Social popularity
  • Identification with television characters
  • Belief in the realism of television
  • Fantasizing about aggression

Parents should intervene when children are watching something too violent on the television because they provide critical input. Also, it is essential for parents to monitor children during the pre-adolescent years because that is when the media violence begins to stimulate the aggressive behavior.

Many individuals may agree with Huesmann’s statements, but it is important to remember that there are several other factors that can lead to aggression also. Parents should be aware of their child’s actions, and monitor the aggression. They should model proper behavior too. There is no concrete evidence that media violence is the main variable for an individual’s negative behavior, so why aren’t other variables analyzed and discussed regularly too?[7]

Who has the authority to determine what children read?[edit]

Libraries? The ALA and Supreme Court agree that libraries do not act in loco parentis.

Parents?

ALA Supreme Court
This is one of the ALA's stances.
Librarians and library governing bodies cannot assume the role of parents or the functions of parental authority in the private relationship between parent and child. Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that only parents and guardians have the right and the responsibility to determine their children's—and only their children’s—access to library resources.

The ALA also says that kids have the same privacy rights as adults; what materials they use cannot be shown to parents. So if the kid doesn't want to say what books they've been reading, then the parent does not have a right to that information. This makes it tricky for parents to exercise their responsibility to determine their children's access to library resources.
This is not the supreme court's idea:
  • Primary caretakers are entitled to help of government bodies in fulfilling their duties as caretakers
  • Supervision of children's materials is best left to parents, but it's also in the interest of society (and hence the responsibility of librarians and others) not to have kids reading certain things.

Children?

ALA Supreme Court
This seems to be the ALA's real stance:
  • Kids are responsible for selecting which materials they can or cannot read.
  • Parents can advise (and even advise with incentives/punishments), but so can anyone else.
The supreme court likes this too, but...
  • Children's right to select such materials should be limited, both for the sake of the kid, and for the sake of society.
  • You can't remove books from libraries just because you don't agree with the views expressed in them. However, you can remove items if they're obscene, or otherwise not suitable for kids. School libraries can remove items if they are "educationally unsound."

Avoidance of harm argument Restrictions on what kids can read may be harmful, as might the parent's knowledge of what the kid is reading (e.g. access to information for queer teens in rural areas, information about pregnancy for teens).

Library-community relations[edit]

Outreach services[edit]

Library advocacy work[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Chatman, E. A. (1996). The impoverished life-world of outsiders. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 47(3), 193-206.
  2. Klauber, Julie. "Living Well with a Disability: How Libraries Can Help." American Libraries 29 (November 1998): 52.
  3. Johnson, Linda. “The Rural Library: Programs, Services, and Community Coalitions and Networks.” Rural Libraries 20 (2000): 38-62.
  4. Nelson, Anne. “How My Hometown Library Failed Me.” Library Journal 103 (February 1, 1978): 317-319.
  5. Matthews, Virginia H., Judith G. Flum, and Karen A. Whitney. "Kids Need Libraries: School and Public Libraries Preparing the Youth of Today for the World of Tomorrow," School Library Journal 36 (April 1990): 33 – 37.
  6. Whelan, Debra Lau. “A Golden Opportunity.” School Library Journal (January 2004): 40 – 42.
  7. Huesmann, L. Rowell, 1986. Psychological Processes Promoting the Relation Between Exposure to Media Violence and Aggressive Behavior by the Viewer. Journal of Social Issues. 42: 238-243.