Graphic Novels in Collection Development: Two Kinds of Equality

– tylerdnns

Webinar Title: “Comics and Libraries: A No-Fear Graphic Novel Reader’s advisory.

This webinar, hosted by Krista King and Cathy Crum, took place in February of this year. King and Crum begin with a brief overview of comic books and their history. This means the format’s trajectory from merely popular and “cheap” to one that is taken seriously. This reminded me of the ways in which technology went from a humble, small subset to something for everyone. Listening to this webinar, I noticed several ways in which technology and graphic novels seem to have direct parallels–one of which is a historical habit of excluding women.

King begins by explaining the difference between comic and graphic novel. This section of the webinar is for an older set of librarians. The hosts explain that they often get asked by librarians if graphic novels are “explicit or taboo” books. This presentation is for people who don’t know what a graphic novel is, but it is also skillfully informative enough to appeal to someone with more knowledge as well. A lot of ground is covered.

“Graphic novels are a natural extension of the comic book,” King defines. “They tell a story using pictures and sequence panels, speech bubbles, and other conventions of the comic book format.”

Much of the webinar is Cook and King discussing the variety of ways in which graphic novels are effective learning tools. They often bolstered this continued theme with lesser-known insider “fan” knowledge (related, in one instance, to the evolution of the paper-thickness). As a fellow comic fan, I appreciated this marriage of “scholarly info” that both hosts threw in with “cool facts.” This webinar allowed the hosts to speak effectively both as educators and fans.

A third into the webinar’s 90 minutes, the speakers went into an age-based break-down of the genre. In the last five years, we are informed, graphic novels have begun to be marketed towards even the earliest readers. The youth coordinators monitoring the talk discuss how educators help publishers make sure language in these books is appropriate for “nurturing minds.” We are recommended ALA-approved titles for readers as young as four to adult readers who read Alan Moore.

Graphic novels are described in depth as being a helpful tool to bridge a literacy gap; for example, someone who is not a strong a reader can be “met halfway” by images in a panel. Following this general idea, the webinar also combines word and text to give listeners a comprehensive overview of their topic. Throughout the talk, numerous slides were devoted to picturing notable graphic novels for each audiences. Other slides linked to relevant book lists and awards for the genre. There really is no excuse for coming away from this webinar without a laundry list of great titles.

Graphic novels, our hosts explain, are a well-established format in their own right. They work well in an adult collection, a teen collection, or a children’s collection. Graphic novels can be gritty with adult themes or they can cater to children making the leap from picture book to chapter book.

A continued thread throughout the webinar is discussion of inequity in the comic industry. Our hosts explain that the genre is historically created by, about, and marketed towards males. Female representations are often sexist–back in the day, they mostly were, I’d surmise.

An interesting paint was made about how modern franchises like Spiderman and Thor re-brand their titles using female characters. The hosts bring up various female comic creators throughout the talk, so there is definite cause to hope for progress in this matter. Also, the recent crop of female superheroes with hopefully get more girls into graphic novels. This, I’m confident, can only lead to the next generation having more female comic creators.

A lot of firsts seem to be happening as far as social issues in comics. Cook and King describe many of these. But there is still a ways to go. The ratio of male-to-female creators or title/main characters is still overwhelmingly male. All the ways in which females are marginalized in the tech world eerily apply to the comic world, both on and behind the pages. The hierarchy of exclusion that exists in both worlds are similar, just short of identical.

Which is why this webinar was so refreshing. Both an overview of comics was given, but also the context of the comic book industry, particulars that reflect where we are socially. Many of our readings have been about the importance of understanding an object, but also it’s social and historical context. This webinar’s creators understand the importance of this as well.

Finally I loved all the ways in which the hosts were inclusive. For example, mangas are treated as something akin to the cheap Harlequin romance novels by the high brow. In this presentation, though, graphic novels are literature. The implication coming away from this webinar is that librarians should have Watchmen just as high on the shelf as David Copperfield. This presentation was all about equalizing all aspects of the genre. How many people, for example, would by thoughtful enough to call a graphic novelization of Twilight a learning tool? I appreciated how inclusive and informed the hosts were in this way. I agree with them.

As long as you’re reading something, isn’t that all that matters?

https://kdla.adobeconnect.com/_a1019387739/p8h9kw56e7i/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal

In Situ: How to Reasonably Believe in God

By kgallag8

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The New York Public Library and Creative Time, a “public arts organization that works with artists to contribute to the dialogues, debates and dreams of our times,[i]” are working together on a current site-specific series of conversations “paring leading artists and public intellectuals to address critical topics of our time[ii]” called In Situ.  I attended one of these events on March 16th, 2017 in Manhattan at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, the topic being: ‘How to Reasonably Believe in God.’

The conversation paired prominent//provocative “intellectual”, Slavoj Zizek and visual artist, Janine Antoni, with Sister Helen Prejean as moderator.  An unlikely pair, Zizek and Antoni did not seem to be on the same page at all during the one hour conversation—making it feel a lot more like three hours.  Sister Helen tried her best to moderate the discourse into some sort of dialogue of back and forth, but it seemed that confusion from Antoni—in regards to Zizek’s thick Slovenian accent, and a general lack of understanding of his key points and counter arguments—was the downfall of the conversation.

Janine Antoni was not the original scheduled participant for the event; Shirin Neshat, an Iran-born New York City visual artist, was originally scheduled to be in conversation with Slavoj Zizek but had to cancel at last minute.  Because of Janine’s unfulfilling participation in the event, I wondered constantly if it would have been a better time, had Neshat not had to cancel.  I spent a great deal of time frustrated by Antoni’s lack of participation and seeming disinterest of what Sister Helen or Zizek had to say throughout the night.  I do not think this is something to blame the New York Public Library or Creative Time for, as an email was sent out promptly before the event, explaining the sudden change-of-participant—though, I do wish their understudy was someone who ‘fit the bill’ more properly.

‘How to Reasonably Believe in God’ began with a short introduction from Reverend Patrick Malloy, PhD; Paul Holdengraber, Director of Public Programming at NYPL; and Nato Thompson, Artistic Director of Creative Time.  The remarks given by Reverend Malloy were thoughtful, substantial, and relevant; he spoke of inclusiveness in a time of division, giving your neighbor the benefit of the doubt, and learning to listen to those that do not believe/worship in the way that you do.  He held the audience in the palm of his hand upon every word, though delivered just a short enough speech that I’m sure he was overshadowed by the events of the night, for some listeners.  For me: the power of his concise and beautiful words ruminated with me throughout the night and onto many days later.

Paul Holdengraber and Nato Thompson were not as elegant in their speaking as Reverend Malloy.  The couple tripped upon their words and did not speak very elegantly, as if they had forgotten they were in a church and not a college auditorium.  The two repeated the same things, apologized for their under-preparedness, and left me hoping that it was not to be a reflection of the night to come.

Between the opening remarks and the conversation was a performance from Reverend Billy and The Stop Shopping Choir.  This was a marvelous act that left me yearning to applaud and participate—which was offered in the call-and-response form of ‘Amen’ and ‘Hallelujah.’  Reverend Billy and his band left a lasting impression on the audience as they finished their final song, slowly walking down the aisle, chanting in whisper “black lives matter” and “standing rock”—in response to the current Black Lives Matter movement that is so prominently erupting throughout the world, and the Standing Rock Native American Reservation where people have been protesting the installation of the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline since the Summer of 2016.

Reverend Billy and The Stop Shopping Choir are a well-known musical group that have been protesting and addressing key issues through their music and their presence for over 13 years.  The band describes themselves as a “radical performance community” of “wild anti-consumerist gospel shouters and Earth loving urban activists,[iii]” advocating against Militarization and Consumerism in the modern world.  Their performance at In Situ was heartbreakingly short; with only three songs, they most certainly left the audience longing for an encore.  The Stop Shopping Choir and Reverend Billy spoke and sang of: environmental justice, President Trump’s travel ban, Corporate Greed, and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  It was a performance unlike any other, topped with expressiveness, inclusiveness, and many choir members dressed in drag.  This performance was perhaps my favorite part of the event.

The moderator, Sister Helen Prejean, is an inspiration to many.  Through her moderating of the night she made it known that she had a lot more she could’ve said on the subject, but continuously, and graciously, fell victim to the statement, “it’s not my time to talk.”  Sister Helen is most known for her “instrumental sparking [of] a national dialogue on the death penalty, [and for] helping to shape the Catholic Church’s newly vigorous opposition to state executions.ii” She is the author of Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States and The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions.  Sister Helen is a one-of-a-kind human; she spends most of her time counseling death row prisoners and educating citizens about the death penalty and is currently writing her third book.

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And so it began, after the opening remarks, the musical performance, and a short introduction from Sister Helen: Janine Antoni, a self-proclaimed Buddhist, and Slavoj Zizek, a self-proclaimed Agnostic, started a discussion on How to Reasonably Believe in God…but not really.  Slavoj Zizek is a very eccentric man, with what seems to be hundreds of ideas flowing from his mouth a mile a minute. Janine, on the other hand, conducts herself in a more slow-talking, thoughtful kind of way.  The two did not mesh well—which was, admittedly, some of the point of the conversation to begin with.

We do not get to a conversation about believing in God, without the anticipation of some ‘stirring of the pot’, yet at times it seemed Antoni was completely ignoring Zizek’s counter-points, and perhaps not understanding what he was speaking about (verbally—because of his thick accent, but also conceptually, as it was clear he was much more intelligent than her).  It is not always important, when in conversation with someone, to have the same brain capacity, or to necessarily share the same beliefs—in fact, this night it was specifically chosen that the two participants came from a different backgrounds of thinking—yet Antoni’s sheer impudence during the conversation began to undermine her credibility as an opposing voice for how Zizek could/should reasonably believe in God.

Throughout the night, Antoni responded to many of Zizek’s accusations and key points by meditating and dancing.  Even Sister Helen seemed to be a bit confused about her actions, as Janine strutted across the stage, banged on the floor with her feet, and swirled her long black hair in the air.  She referenced much of her art throughout the talk, but did not give examples as to how these pieces fit into the discussion.  At times it felt almost as if the NYPL was in a complete bind when Shirin Neshat cancelled and ended up choosing the only artist that would participate on such short notice.  There was definitely an air throughout the audience when she would counter-act Zizek’s thought-out, serious accusations and topics with completely one-sided conversations about how she believes in her God—not trying at the least bit to debate the topic with him.

Though Janine Antoni’s participation was at times strenuous to sit through, her hubris did not overshadow the pure intellect of Slavoj Zizek.  Some of the key points he made, which were chiefly ignored by Antoni—though some were addressed by Sister Helen—had great resonance with me.

He spoke of “faking it till you make it”—in terms of people pretending to believe in God, or believing in God/worshiping only when they need something or it is convenient for them.  He gave the assertion that “When we want something, we also want the obstacle of gaining it”—in regards to devout religious persons dedicating their lives to the possibility of an afterlife and forgetting and/or undermining the importance of a life on earth.  Quoting an international proverb, “an enemy is [someone] whose story you weren’t ready to listen,” Zizek intentionally set up Antoni at this point of the conversation only to have her, once again, ignore the allegation.

I attended this event for a few reasons: 1.) to support the New York Public Library, 2.) out of a deep respect for Slavoj Zizek and Sister Helen Prejean’s work in their respective fields, and 3.) to perhaps gain insight on How to Reasonably Believe in God.  Unfortunately, I did not gain much understanding into the latter.  Though there was not much discussion on the topic, I did not leave the event feeling my attention could’ve been better utilized somewhere else that night.  I made a friend in Reverend Billy and The Stop Shopping Choir, was graced with the amazing presence of two people I deeply admire, and—when all else failed—was captivated by the architecture of Saint John the Divine, a structure throughout the night referred to as “this hollowed mountain.”

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[i] Creative Time. Creative Time, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017. <http://creativetime.org/&gt;.

[ii] New York Public Library. 16 Mar. 2017. How to Reasonably Believe in God [Brochure]. Creative Time.

[iii] Mar 16  •  By Reverend Billy Talen  •  Share, and Mar 15  •  By Reverend Billy Talen  •  Share. “Reverend Billy & the Stop Shopping Choir.” Reverend Billy & the Stop Shopping Choir. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017. http://www.revbilly.com/.

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Sister Helen Prejean. Ministry Against the Death Penalty, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017. <http://www.sisterhelen.org/&gt;.

“In Situ at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine: How to Reasonably Believe in God.” The New York Public Library. The New York Public Library, 16 Mar. 2017. Web. 27 Mar. 2017. <https://www.nypl.org/audiovideo/situ-cathedral-st-john-divine-how-reasonably-believe-god&gt;.

ISP: Insane Surveillance Posse, or, “User-Centered” Madness and Waiting on a Response from ALA about Recent ISP Privacy Rules

By ktidwell

In the midst of executive orders and legislation clamoring for public attention, a recent vote in Congress to permit extensive collection and use of browsing data by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) has drawn a lot of public outcry and media analysis. The ISP legislation faces the wrath of people whose digital privacy has been repeatedly revealed to be already compromised, often illegally- by NSA surveillance, CIA surveillance, and even unauthorized commercial product surveillance. The added insult is that this time the decision to erode privacy happened, well, publicly. It also occurred without any pretense of security or content payoff. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are suddenly casual conversation fodder. Yet as tech savvy as the public is becoming, even a VPN, it turns out, is not the cloak of digital invisibility people want it to be. All Internet data is potentially and legally marketable information. With design becoming increasingly tailored to user profiles, the value of information about users has risen dramatically while the cultural capital of autonomous privacy-decisions is expressed in dialogue but not law. This user-focused approach originated in research initially done by in part libraries and information science researchers, but has grown beyond its initial scope of ethnographic user observation. The discrepancy between public consciousness and government and corporate policy illuminates previously hidden forms of information work, namely playing and existing alongside internet-enabled observant technology. It also highlights that even though public libraries can continue to serve as both information providers and information anonymizers, their reliance on third-party technology jeopardizes their core values.

 

User-centered design has become (or again become) the standard when researching and designing resources for people, and this has morphed into a market for user data. This turn towards user centered design, at least in information seeking behavior, “has been the province not of information systems as a discipline, but of information science and, before that, librarianship” according to Tom Wilson, a human information behavior researcher. The goal of such research was to better serve library users, and the success of the approach has spread it to advertisers, tech companies, and other for-profit corporations. This field of study has been in many ways ethnographic, based on direct observation of consenting users (Wilson 2000; Talja & Hartel, 2007). Wilson writes that the increased study of user habits “has been accompanied by a switch from quantitative methods to qualitative method.” In non-digital contexts, this will continue to be the case (barring implementation of widespread video observation devices on non-consenting people, like those used in London, and in the case of London, barring the use of that data for market research). In digital contexts, much of human information seeking behavior is easily tracked in browsing data, and the study of user behavior becomes again highly quantitative. New methods of collection and their intended purposes also exit the ethical realm of libraries, a problem that would not matter if libraries were opaque information silos with full control over the pathways of their user generated data. As will be discussed later: libraries are not so self-possessed.

 

Collecting that data is easy, and using and selling it under terms of service agreements has been a common practice by technology companies, to the point that many people are not actively aware that their interactions with the Internet are a form of labor. Free or cheap technology products have been subsidized by the sale of information. Using browsing data collected concurrently with daily information life is for now, the apex of user-centered design, though it may also represent the apex of public/private identity erosion. Gregory Downey wrote in 2014 of his students that “their own amateur media activity—whether uploading photos to their social network profile or downloading the latest cultural content outside of intellectual property paywalls—reinforces the fiction that information circulation is driven simply by ‘play’ and that information content is simply available for ‘free’”. Downey struggled to demonstrate the labor that creates and moves information and content. The transparency of and media attention towards the ISP bill, and the probability that data vending is not likely to be accompanied by a reduction in Internet cost, has revealed to a broad audience the labor of Internet-connected existence. The revelation, however, did not come soon enough. Now, individuals are charged with protecting their privacy with the limited means available to them. While this extends the existing opportunity for libraries to help protect their users’ privacy, it also constrains them in similar inescapable ways.

 

Libraries’ values present a tension between information access and privacy. As of March 30, 2017, the American Library Association’s web presence is preoccupied with fighting the specter of full funding cuts to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) proposed in a recent Trump Administration budget. This is understandable. The cuts represent an existential threat to libraries and their ability to make information accessible to their users. Simultaneously, the ALA celebrates collaborations with ISPs to bring Internet access, and therefore information access, to poor families. The well of funds and the national reach of corporations permit a broad expansion of information access in line with some of the fundamental principles of Democratic Theory in libraries (Buschman 2007), particularly when other streams of funding are threatened. Yet it also stands to consider how use of and partnerships with ISPs erode other facets of Democratic practice in libraries, particularly in light of the new legislation. While some larger libraries are their own ISPs, and therefore able to maintain near-absolute control over access to user data, most mid sized and smaller libraries use private ISPs that, under this ruling, could begin to selling all library users’ web browsing. While a library IP address obscures the user, any self-identifying information entered into a browsing session would undo this protection. Libraries should and do invest in VPNs to protect their users, but as mentioned above, this solution is not as effective as widely believed. Libraries who use private ISPs are subject to seeing at least some user data sold for profit when that data surfaces on other networks. Additionally, when libraries partner with ISPs who then offer Internet for reduced prices to poor families, they have no control whatsoever over the subsequent use of patrons’ home data that they helped facilitate.

 

The ALA does actively talk about privacy regarding data exchange, offering suggestions on how to protect patrons, and making privacy a major issue on their website and in their advocacy. Still, the ALA has yet to meaningfully acknowledge the new bill. The news is absent from their twitter feed and the news section of their main website. The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has thus far only acknowledged Congress’ vote in a news link roundup. Previously, the ALA has been vocal about other issues relating to ISPs, especially net neutrality. If libraries are to practice information access congruently with user privacy, they could follow Buschman’s suggestion to put Jürgen Habermas’ ideas in to practice, specifically “his concepts of colonization and de-integration of public and private life.” The ISP ruling co-opts a mostly non-market world, and places it in an inescapable arena of profit and observation.

 

 

References

 

Buschman, J. (2007). Democratic Theory in LIS: Toward an Emendation. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 1483–1496.

Downey, G. J. (2014). “Making media work: time, space, identity, and labor in the analysis of information and communication infrastructures” in Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society, eds. T. Gillespie, P. Boczkowski, and K. Foot. Cambridge: MIT Press, 141–165. https://gdowney.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/downey-g-2014-in-gillespie-t-et-al-eds-2014-making-media-work.pdf.

Habermas, J. (1987) . The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures (F. Lawrence, Trans.) . Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Talja, S. & Hartel, J. (2007). “Revisiting the user-centered turn in information science research: an intellectual history perspective,” Information Research 12(4).http://InformationR.net/ir/12-4/colis/colis04.html

Wilson, T. D. (2000). Human information behavior. Informing Science, 3(2), 49-55.

 

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admin. (2007, March 29). Privacy and Confidentiality [Text]. Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/privacyconfidentiality/privacy/privacyconfidentiality

Assn, A. L. (2017, March 16). The President’s budget proposal to eliminate @US_IMLS funding is counterproductive and shortsighted.http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2017/03/president-s-budget-proposal-eliminate-federal-library-funding … [microblog]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/ALALibrary

New Checklists to Support Library Patron Privacy – LITA Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://litablog.org/2017/02/new-checklists-to-support-library-patron-privacy/

SHAWNDA.KAY. (2017a, February 24). American Library Association and Cox Communications partner to narrow digital divide for low-income families [Text]. Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2017/02/american-library-association-and-cox-communications-partner-narrow-digital

SHAWNDA.KAY. (2017b, March 7). ALA and 170 public interest organizations call on FCC and Congress to protect and enforce strong net neutrality rules and secure the open internet [Text]. Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2017/03/ala-and-170-public-interest-organizations-call-fcc-and-congress-protect-and

Dawkins, A. (2017, March 10). Intellectual Freedom News 3/10/17. Retrieved from http://www.oif.ala.org/oif/?p=8859

The House just voted to wipe away the FCC’s landmark Internet privacy protections. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/03/28/the-house-just-voted-to-wipe-out-the-fccs-landmark-internet-privacy-protections/

Protected: Libraries and Multilingual Communites

By nramauta

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Hyperakt & Social Impact

By alexvndra.ja

Hyperakt is an award-winning, social impact design agency based in Brooklyn, NYC. Their mission is to enable and empower change-makers and next-generation leaders by giving them a voice to “tell their stories.” Through intelligent design, content and brand strategy, they have successfully transformed complex information into user-friendly representations, accessible through a variety of technological and digital platforms across the globe.

 

As their way of involving and further giving back to the community, they host their famous monthly “Lunch Talks” where they invite “thought leaders” and creative agencies to share their insights, experiences and works to the public for free.

 

Pratt’s UXPA had the opportunity to visit their design studio last March 8, 2017. We were welcomed by the team, toured around the studio, and finally ushered into their meeting room. Alex Gracey, the studio and community manager, explained to us in depth about the company’s mission, vision and goals. He then showcased a few of their many successful endeavors. One of their prominent projects was with iMentor.

 

iMentor was one of their clients who sought their help to rebrand their image. The organization wanted to stand out from their competitors, and gain more funding for long-term sustainability. One of their core beliefs is that “education opportunity opens up a world of possibility.” Their mission is to recruit mentors to partner up with high-school students from low-income backgrounds. Through this partnership, students are given proper educational support in order for them to “graduate high-school and succeed in college, and achieve their ambitions.”

 

As Brenda Dervin and Michael Nilan (1986) proposed ¹, the current view of experience should take on a holistic approach-as opposed to the traditional method that confines problem solving within context. They argue that we should “look at information behaviors outside system context.” Hyperakt did just that. They not only focused on iMentor’s brand image, but they went as far as rebranding through content strategy and web design. During the process, one of the hardest questions posed was, “If iMentor was a person, how would you describe her personality?” After careful deliberation, iMentor solidified their identity, stating that “she” was “Daring, smart, inspiring, honest, and put people first.”

 

Hyperakt then shifted their focus to the students, closely examining how their design solutions could evoke meaning to them. Bates ² writes that information is not only derived from paper or from people. We absorb information from our physical surroundings, the spacing and dimensions of our environment, the design of our tools and our modes of communication. She emphasizes that the most important way of acquiring information is when we interact with all of these elements in our everyday real-world situations and circumstances.

 

The way information is presented impacts action and the way audiences respond. When Hyperakt redesigned the logo, they patterned the “i” in iMentor to look like the top of a graduation cap, symbolic to the end goal- graduating. They then created other patterns of school-related  icons related that played with their “i” design. In summary, they successfully merged iconography, symbols, the use of affective imagery and design that were meaningful representations to their target users.

 

After Alex discussed some of their other projects, he then handed the talk over to Hyperakt’s Principal and Creative Director, Deroy Perez.

 

Deroy introduced us to Hyperakt’s award-winning (and ongoing) passion project- The Refugee Project. In collaboration with Ekene Ijeoma, a designer and programmer, they created a platform that visually interprets thousands of refugee data for the public to easily understand.

 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was faced with the challenge of converting their raw data into representations easily communicable to the public. This was a clear example of what Dervin and Nilan referred to when they wrote that user design studies should shift to a more qualitative approach. Hyperakt’s goal was to connect and make the public aware of the past and present refugee crisis through factual and engaging visual interpretations. This was done in hopes that if awareness was created, change would then follow. They wanted to paint a picture, through an interactive map, and tell the stories behind the 35 million refugees displaced across 126 countries.

 

In order to do that, a “compelling narrative” was needed to justly represent the hardships and realities of the refugees. Lopatovska and Arapakis ³ write that emotions instigate actions. The interactive map illustrates a timeline of migration patterns with accounts behind each turmoil. It includes recorded testimonies, written journals, and photographs captured throughout the devastation. It opened-up a channel for untold stories to be heard, giving a voice to refugees, and promoting global awareness by sharing to the world their plight.

 

The website allows users to view and compare the refugee population of different countries from 1975-2015. Circular indicators, surrounding each country, represent the number of refugee nationals living overseas. The size of the circle is directly proportional to the number of refugees in a given country. The bigger the circle, the greater the number of refugees, indicating some form of unrest causing citizens to seek refuge outside their homeland. Lines connecting countries represent where refugees have sought sanctuary. Users can switch their views to see the refugee percentage of a country’s population.  A heat map is also available to represent the global migrants through the years.  The small sticky-note like icon links users to articles about the crisis/es taking place during a specific year in a country.

 

The Refugee Project gained international recognition and attention, receiving various awards worldwide. According to Domus and The Atlantic ⁴, this project was a clear “example of how graphic designers are turning their attention to framing data that stimulates action.” It is an ongoing and collaborative project, updated yearly. Deroy and his whole team are proud of their work, and do not receive any income from this project. It is their labor of love, and their way of giving back.

 

Design, like art, is emotive in nature. Whether it is crafting an experience, conveying a message, or simply channeling one’s expressions, design is a powerful tool that can truly impact its audience and instigate action. A human-centered approach is necessary to achieve this. Such is what Hyperakt has done and continues to accomplish.

 

1 Talja, S. & Hartel, J. (2007). “Revisiting the user-centered turn in information science research: an intellectual history perspective,” Information Research 12(4).http://InformationR.net/ir/12-4/colis/colis04.html

2 Bates, M. J. (2006). “Fundamental forms of information.” Journal of the American Society for Information and Technology 57(8): 1033–1045. http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/bates/articles/NatRep_info_11m_050514.html.

3 Lopatovska, I., & Arapakis, I. Theories, methods and current research on emotions in library and infor- mation science, information retrieval and human–computer interaction. Information Processing and Management (2010), doi:10.1016/ j.ipm.2010.09.001

4 Hyperakt Labs. Mapping 40 years of global refugee migrations. Retrieved from http://hyperakt.com/items/refugee-project

 

The Archivist Round Table Visits Pratt SAA

By adifigl2

“Archives, records, power: three words which now resonate across a range of academic disciplines and professional pursuits (Schwartz & Cook, 2002).”

Since our readings on the archival profession I have been curious to learn more about the various archiving organization within New York, and to better understand their methods and means of connectivity.

“Significance is related to cultural motion and public endorsement; significance processes are the basis for cultural inventions and collectivist traditions (Dalbello, 2009).”

Dalbello, Schwartz, and Cook all left me wanting to learn more about cultural and community influence on archives, and wanting to question that if “public endorsement” plays such a large roll in the archiving of information, then why are archives continual seen as inaccessible foreboding spaces?

I have been meeting with the folks at Pioneer Books to discuss course development within their bookstore surrounding archives, and the ways that we can educate the Red Hook community about archives and the importance of creating our own. Archives serve access of information to their communities, and we have been developing a curriculum that would educate our community about the archives they can gain access to. In all of our research it has surprised me how little information surrounding the “outreach” aspects of archives exists. There is very little that seems to be done to educate the public about the existence of certain archives or the ways that they can be accessed. The archival world is rather insular, and I have been curious to learn about how and if professionals in the field are working to change that.

When I heard that board members from The Archivist Roundtable were coming to have a discussion with Pratt’s chapter of the Society of American Archivists, I thought it would be a great opportunity to connect with archivists in the field, learn more about their individual professions and places of work, and ask them some questions about archive accessibility.

The Archivist Round Table (ART) president, Kerri Anne Burke, programming director, Alex Lederman, membership director, Rebecca Chandler, outreach director, Lindsay Anderberg, and, mentorship chair, Melissa came to speak about their organization and the ways that they can help students who are entering into the archival profession.

ART was founded in 1979 as a non-profit organization that strives to connect the community of archivists, librarians, and various other information professionals within the New York metropolitan area. It is seen as an alternative or a supplementary organization to the Society of American Archivists.

The Archivist Round Table (ART) strives to…

“educate the public about the legal, historical and cultural value of public and private archives and manuscript collections.

provide a forum, through monthly meetings, where members of the archival community can discuss issues of professional concern.

promote professional development through continuing education workshops and professional education opportunities.

advocate the preservation and use of historical materials. (Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc.)”

The panelists made a strong argument for the benefits of joining ART versus joining the SAA as students. The first being that the SAA has a high membership fee. For students it is only $50 for the year, but continuing the membership beyond your studies is not always possible for everyone. They also said that a lot of archival positions will pay for your membership once you are hired. Membership for students to ART is just $10 for the year and gives you access to most events for free or a very low cost. It is also fairly easy to volunteer with ART, which gives you access to events for free.

The second argument being that ART focuses on the New York Metropolitan area which is where most of us are currently working and focusing our studies. Many of the board members expressed that they felt lost in the larger SAA community. Even at conferences or participating in panels, it seemed that the scope was too large, and they were not finding much value within SAA as students. With nearly 600 members in ART all located in New York, it is easier to make and build connections with a smaller collection of professionals who live in your city and work within your community.

Both ART and SAA offer a mentorship program for students, but the ART program connects students to professionals in New York, which allows for face to face meet ups, and the building of connections that could potentially lead to jobs. The SAA program pairs people across the country, which is valuable in many ways, but not as much for job searching if you are hoping to stay in New York.

ART events are held in the city at least eight times per year. Events are generally held in different locations, which gives greater access to the information that is being discussed. In essence, getting the archives out of the enclosed box that so many people associate with them. Holding the events in different locations also allows for people who might not be familiar with the organization or archives to listen in and learn more.

Event schedules can be found on their website, nycarchivists.org. You can also join their mailing list to receive updates.

After the presentation on the organization’s history, philosophy, and organization, the group opened the room up to questions and someone asked if each board member would talk about their background, where they went to school, and what their career path post graduate school has been.

This was incredibly interesting to me. Having come from a varied background, and entering grad school as an avenue towards a second career, I have felt somewhat self-concious about my indirect path to being an the information professional. I was surprised to find that I was not alone. Almost everyone on the panel had held other jobs before entering into archives, and nearly everyone on the panel did something completely different from each other. It was inspiring to see how many different kinds of jobs exist under the archival umbrella.

Although we ran out of time before I was able to ask any questions specific to archival outreach, I was able to connect with the programming director, Alex, after the discussion. We were able to talk for a bit about general archival struggles, and agreed to have coffee soon to discuss more of the ways that archives can strive to be inclusive.

To be continued…


Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. (n.d.). Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York – About ART. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.nycarchivists.org/About

Dalbello, Marija. (2009). “Digital Cultural Heritage: Concepts, Projects, and Emerging Constructions of Heritage.” Proceedings of the Libraries in the Digital Age (LIDA) conference, 25-30 May, 2009.

Schwartz, J. M., & Cook, T. (2002). Archives, Records, and Power: The Making of Modern Memory. Archival Science, 2(1/2), 1-19.

Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon

By kgallag8

ResistPoster

On Saturday, March 18th, 2017 I had the privilege of observing and helping my colleague, Digital Services Librarian of the School of Visual Arts Library, Phoebe Stein, lead an event—the “Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon @svalibrary.”  This event was in coordination with a series of events, over a week’s time, presented by the SVA Library called ‘RESIST!’ and a satellite event of the international Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon—an event that has been going on since 2014 and that was just one of over 280 events worldwide that take place every March.

Art + Feminism is an organization focused on the inclusion of women artists in Wikipedia articles.  Since the Wikimedia Foundation—a charitable, nonprofit, organization dedicated to “encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual, educational content, and to providing the full content [of] wiki-based projects to the public free of charge[i] ”—found that less than 13% of its contributors identity as female, Art + Feminism made an initiative to help expand the representation of women—and LBGTQ persons—as Wikipedia authors, and to edit and correct the existing articles involving the art of women/LBGTQ persons.  A large group of: librarians, professors, artists, students, and art workers/lovers “committed to contributing specific knowledge” to the Wikipedia articles involving women in art: Art + Feminism explains themselves as a community of people with “different perspectives and practices but [who] share the belief that art is fundamental to thriving societies and [who] strive to make visible the lives and work of underrepresented artists.”  Patrons of the event were encouraged to sign in, in order to ensure Art + Feminism get the funding from the Wikimedia Foundation.

Phoebe gave a PowerPoint presentation about how to navigate and explore the vast world of Wikipedia, followed by hands-on practicing and guiding for the participants.  She went over the basics of: how to create a Wikipedia account with a unique username; how to edit, comment, and start conversations about preexisting Wikipedia articles; how to find articles that have been flagged as ‘in need of assistance’; and how to create your own articles.  The presentation and training sessions were offered twice throughout the day, as well as options of things to work on based on your constraint for the allotted time—ranging from 1 hour or less (set up Wikipedia user page and make some simple edits to existing pages), to 2-4 hours (create a new article).

Phoebe’s presentation began with suggestions of what a novice Wikipedia user’s first actions should be; the most important being to engage in conversation with the Wikipedia community and to read articles before you begin editing or writing your own.  She stressed the importance of having a neutral point of view when editing/writing and notability, as well as the issue of conflicts of interest (not to partake in editing or creating articles that are somehow affiliated with your personal life, such as: places you have worked for, organizations you donate to, etc.).

In regards to notability, Phoebe urged the patrons to use secondary sources for citations, as primary sources are often frowned upon within the Wikipedia community.  A creditable Wikipedia article will always have multiple sources, independent sources, quotes, and all of its citations in the same format.  Sources must also be published and available to the public.  Phoebe suggests patrons utilize ‘Wikipedia Teahouse’, a “friendly place to help new editors become accustomed to Wikipedia culture, ask questions, and develop community relationships.[ii]

A link to the handout given, and helpful outside sources such as video tutorials and ways to navigate around Wikipedia to get the answers you need as a contributor, and online training sessions from Art + Feminism were also made available.  Phoebe remarked that “most anything that you want to do can be found by searching Wikipedia itself,” meaning that if you need help regarding articles, go to ‘Wikipedia: Your First Article’, and if you want to learn more about Wikipedia’s sandbox, navigate yourself to: ‘Wikipedia: About The Sandbox’.

Phoebe’s presentation gave concise, easily understood guidance and was conducted in a casual, yet professional way.  Observing and assisting her in this event ensued thoughts in me of: how I would conduct an event in a Library on my own; the way people responded to certain design aspects in the PowerPoint; what was retained by the patrons, and what needed to be reiterated after the presentation.  There was an odd occurrence that not many SVA students showed up to this event, and that most of the patrons had heard about it from an outside source.  The demographic present was widely women over the age of 50.  Towards the end of the day, two Wikipedia volunteers were available to help us with instructing the patrons further.

“Wikipedia Volunteers” are people who dedicate a significant amount of time to editing and creating articles on Wikipedia.  These are people of all sorts: retirees, professors, teenagers, etc. and have “proved themselves” to be reliable based on their history on the website.  When looking for a creditable writer on Wikipedia, it is important to check how many articles they have written and contributed to, their user history, and if anything they have participated in editing/writing has been flagged as incorrect or biased information.  Wikipedia has created algorithms called ‘bots’ to “flag and queue articles for quality and revision.[iii]” The realization that some Wikipedia users are merely using the resource to vandalize articles has forced the site to create these algorithms and survey articles more carefully, especially as Wikipedia becomes more creditable in the intellectual community as a source—currently the fifth most visited website in the world.[iv]

“Wikipedia thrives only as long as legions of volunteer editors practice protocol labor as they learn and share conventions for structuring different kinds of pages and writing encyclopedic forms of prose. iii”

blog22

The Wikipedia gender gap is not a new concept, and I, personally have always been told by Art Professors that one of the most useless, incorrect topics on Wikipedia is Art History.  This, in conjunction with the underrepresentation of women artists on the site, creates a larger problem that many people are attending to.

In 2016, Art History Professor, Jamie Ratliff of the University of Minnesota Duluth created an assignment for her students to each conduct research on a Latin American female artist and create a Wikipedia page on the person.[v]  Events and activities in this nature are going on throughout the country and the world as more people become aware of the gender gap.  In a CBC news March 2017 interview with Alexandra Bischoff, program coordinator of the Belkin Art Gallery in Vancouver, Bischoff said that “many accomplished female artists [were] notably absent from the platform.[vi]

In her presentation, Phoebe used the juxtaposition of the Wikipedia articles “Baseball Card” and “Doll” as an example of another type of underrepresentation of women present on the website.  In this example we must regard ‘doll’ as something feminine and ‘baseball card’ as something masculine—though this is not always the case.  It was clear that the baseball card article had received much more attention than the doll article.  “Baseball” contains about 5,400 words and 9 ‘see also’ links; while “Doll” has roughly 2,850 words, zero ‘see also’ links, and a significantly smaller table of contents.  *Though it is amazing that since this event (not yet 2 weeks ago), the ‘doll’ article has been very much bulked up.  Hopefully this is in part from Phoebe’s mention of the issue.

“The organizers of Art+Feminism are deeply disturbed by the sheer amount of fake news on social media, and its influence on the recent US election. We believe this makes our work even more pressing. Now more than ever we must gather together to improve Wikipedia and affirm work of women, people of color, immigrants, [and] the LGBTQIA+ community and other marginalized peoples.i”

The work that was put into this event by Librarian, Phoebe Stein was impressive: reaching out to work with Art + Feminism, creating and lecturing on her presentation, and helping the patrons after the fact to do justice to the cause.  I was happy to help out, and excited to learn new information about Wikipedia, and about the work being done by the community for women artist representation on Wikipedia.  As the world becomes more aware and active in women’s rights, the work that Art + Feminism will surely act as a catalyst to serve as a valuable protocol of activism, intellectual aide, and feminism as Wikipedia—and the internet—continue to  expand.

blog2

 

 

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[i] “Art + Feminism.” Art + Feminism. Art + Feminism, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.0

[ii] “About.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Mar. 2017. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

[iii] Downey, Greg. “Making media work: Time, space, identity, and labor in the analysis of information and communication infrastructures.” Media technologies: Essays on communication, materiality, and society (2014): 141-66.

[iv] Alcantara, Chris. “Wikipedia Editors Are Essentially Writing the Election Guide Millions of Voters Will Read.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 27 Oct. 2016. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

[v] Lawler, Christa. “BYO-Laptop: Wiki Edit-A-Thon for Arts & Equality Kicks Off…” Duluth News Tribune. Duluth News Tribune, 05 Mar. 2017. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

[vi] News, CBC. “Women Get Far Less Recognition on Wikipedia than Men, and a Group of Artists Is Tired of It.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 10 Mar. 2017. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

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“Doll.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Mar. 2017. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

“Baseball Card: Revision History.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

Encore. “Arts + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon Scheded for Saturday at UMF.” Sun Journal. Sun Journal, 20 Mar. 2017. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

White, Alan. “12 Spectacular Acts Of Wikipedia Vandalism.” BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed, 2 Jan. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

“RESIST! AN EVENT SERIES PRESENTED BY SVA LIBRARY.” Blog post. Kaleidoscope RSS. School of Visual Arts Library, 28 Feb. 2017. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

“Kaleidoscope Blogs.” SVA Library Main Page. School of Visual Arts Library, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

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Kelsey Gallagher, Information Professionals LIS651 Thursdays 3-6, Spring 2017

Renewed Respect for Story-Time: Shadowing My BFF

By tylerdnns

Preparation work for this blog assignment was actually great fun. For starters, it admittedly wasn’t work. Secondly, the intersectionality and general coolness of the place I chose freed it from any tedium. For this assignment, I got to follow and observe the work of my best friend, Mr. Seth Persons, a librarian at the MET. Seth works at both the Thomas J. Watson Library, an art history and research-geared space for college age-patrons and also the Nolen library, which is more oriented toward the general public.

For membership at the Watson Library, the requirements are minimal. There’s the age-restriction, but any photo or student ID will get you in. The Nolen Library is even more inclusive—anyone can get a membership.

During my brief visit, I got to observe first-hand both the excitement and minutiae that Seth gets to experience everyday–both as a desk librarian at Nolen and a systems librarian/all-around tech wizard at Watson. Seth wore many hats throughout the day, and in him I saw all the versatility and mental acumen that the job really requires. It was exhausting and intimidating, both to his credit.

Libraries from my childhood often felt authoritative. Whenever I went into one, the atmosphere could feel stifling and almost judgmental. I felt out-of-place — as if a stern figure was always seconds away from pointing a finger and forbidding the most minor of infractions. But the libraries where Seth works aren’t related to those horror setting from my childhood. They were much more open and less restrictive. Since I am an aspiring picture book author/illustrator, I was especially interested in the Nolen library, which is 1/3 picture books and is noted for a story-time for ages 3-5 every morning. There is also a story–time for aged 5-8 in the evenings. I didn’t see young people scared to talk there. That was cool. It wasn’t a repressive place, by any stretch.

There was a welcoming atmosphere in the Nolen Library that was mirrored by the staff. Which is amazing, given how busy these librarians often are—given the multitude of varied pressures and stresses that I witnessed them experience in just my short time there.

It wasn’t a particularly busy day. I wanted to chose a low-key time, so the library wasn’t packed with story-time listeners and parents and nannies, etc. I chose a time when I wouldn’t be impeding my friend from doing his work. As I often hear about the emotional duress that being a public servant can bring on, this was really the only thing that made sense.

As I toured the stacks at the Nolen Library, Seth told me about a particularly eventful story-time that’d recently happened in the very room. I am aware, as I wrote, of how stressful it can be to be any librarian. This story and Seth’s descriptions related to it made me respect fully the emotional demands placed on anyone running a story-time, be it a children’s librarian, a volunteer, or any staff member.

Managing a library, especially a story-time, seems akin to being a ring-leader in a circus. You don’t just manage the little ones, commanding respect, but maintaining a balance that doesn’t turn you into a jerk. That’s one level. But, according to Seth, it’s also managing parents. Managing nannies. Managing volunteers. Making sure the kids don’t idly destroy the legitimate artworks on display near them. All of this during story-time.

But story-time doesn’t swallow the Nolen Library completely, despite picture books being so large a part of their collection. While story-time was happening on that particular day, a group of high-schoolers were also having class in the library.

The library is never a static place and different groups often have to be managed at the same time. But a librarian like Seth also has to contend with a lot of behind-the-scenes technology stuff. In addition to having to fix the circulation desk scanner like every single say, he is also responsible for devices that I wouldn’t even begin to know how to approach, much less turn on, much less operate correctly.

The day left me with a renewed admiration for librarians, volunteers, and everyone involved in any large story-time ever. These people manage so much stress, both for other people externally and also for themselves internally, and are so infrequently lauded for it. People like my best friend, in my humble opinion, are literal unsung superheroes.

After our observance, me and Seth at chicken salad for lunch. I looked at art when he had to go back to work. It was a great experience and day.

Democratic Student Participation at Olin College at METRO Conference 2017

By ktidwell

     At the Metropolitan New York Library Council’s annual conference on January 11, 2017, the two keynote sessions were both about libraries’ physical spaces, a theme perhaps influenced by METRO’s own move to, and plans for, a new location. Along with new spaces, all of the featured libraries talked about new technology- from large flatbed scanners, digital vinyl cutters, 3-D printers, photo stations, to interactive design stations- and the ways in which the spaces and their contents could be aligned to promote user participation and a sense of ownership. The final keynote from Jeff Goldenson of Olin College of Engineering credited the administrative transfer of decision-making to students and student access to shared property with the library’s success in engaging learning in their new space. While Olin Library’s experiment in democratizing decision-making worked for its institution, the presentation caused consternation among some audience members who expressed concern that Olin’s relative abundance of financial resources and small user population was a palliative and privileged measure for implementing democratic theory in libraries.

     The final keynote from Goldenson about the small liberal arts school’s campus library was a visually lush multi-media presentation about student engagement and the physical and technological improvements made to the space. Olin is an engineering college. The library, led by Goldenson, made itself central to campus life by becoming a sandbox to a volunteer group of students who were empowered by permission and access to funds to act on what they felt the library needed to become a useful resource to campus. For Olin this looked like a special collection of lendable power tools, a vinyl sticker cutter and student’s self-made labels for shelves, a hydroponic garden in a bookshelf, a free pour-over coffee bar, and bookshelves on rolling casters. For all its technological trappings, however, Olin library’s success was founded on its group of volunteer students, OWL, or Olin Workshop on the Library, who made decisions in a democratic manner. In a critical overview of democratic theory in library and information science, Democratic theory in LIS: toward an emendation, John Buschman reviews writings by Sheldon Wolin, Jürgen Habermas, and Amy Gutmann and generalizes that “democracy is not a specific thing to be attained (like a possession or a perfected structure), but rather a process that enables – even requires – debate about its meaning, limits, and problems in order to realize authentic collective democratic action.” By inviting students into the library as decision makers, Olin college created an evolutionary system that began to address problems as they presented themselves and to act on new ideas as they arose.

     The library also saw its student population as a network: students in OWL began taking input from students not directly involved in the library and highlighting them in meetings. As a student volunteer group, these contributions were made out of a love for collaborative creation. Yochai Benkler writes about this kind of non-capital motivation 2006 book, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, where he says that “nonmarket collaborations can be better at motivating effort and can allow creative people to work on information projects more efficiently than would traditional market mechanisms and corporations.” Though Benkler was talking specifically about networking over computers, his ideas apply here too. One of the reasons Benkler saw computer networks as a counter to the “industrial information economy” was the relatively low resource threshold to access free information and low cost or free access to tools of creation. In Olin Library’s case, allocation of budget to student-driven projects made resources available to be used collaboratively, in conjunction with the library’s core resource- information in digital and physical formats. The library encourages late-night student meet ups with no staff supervision- sending a message that the administration trusts and will minimally regulate student resource use. Students who build structures for the library are encouraged to share their plans, and photo stations are sometimes used to create shared art projects. In some ways, this seems to be a physical expression of the kind of collaboration that evolved during the “emergence of the networked information economy.”

     During the Q&A after Goldenson’s presentation, a jarring question drew both surprise and nodding heads. A public librarian raised his hand and asked: “What was your presentation about?” After the hour-long talk, the question seemed on the surface obtuse. Yet by the reactions of several in the crowd, it was implying a deeper divide in how people in the room understood the very purpose of a library. In a room of librarians from institutions of varying resources, those on the lower-resourced end were visibly uneasy about advancements in Democratic participation in libraries expressed as stream of new, and expensive, technical acquisitions. While Olin’s budget mimicked some of the freedoms of the internet for its students alone by allowing them a say in resources allocation and a freedom of use, it still falls under a critique of liberal arts education from Sheldon Wolin in his 2000 essay, Political Theory: From Vocation to Invocation, as quoted by John Buschman in Democratic theory in LIS:

“The ’virtual university’ tailored to the needs of a technologically driven society is gaining support […] it offers the hope, mainly illusory, that by a severely practical curriculum its students can climb the wall separating the [classes]. When scrutinized according to such measures as costeffectiveness… and productivity, the ideals of the humanistic liberal arts education cannot survive, except as an appendage to the culture industry or as a Potemkin village where the sons and daughters of the rich … receive a polish unobtainable elsewhere.”

When METRO participants from institutions with fewer resources assessed Olin’s demonstration of collaborative possibilities, many saw it as an unobtainable goal, and possibly even undesirable one. Even if Olin’s students are not exclusively “sons and daughters of the rich,” its exclusivity and high funding allow it smooth democratic operation within its prescribed world, where entry to its resources is guarded by restrictive school admissions, and where its pool of contributors is circumscribed. To some other librarians, the freedoms described at Olin looked haphazard and unscalable, and a contribution to democratic library involvement that did not meaningfully expand on democratic behavior in libraries at large.

     One of Olin Library’s greatest assets was a voluntary transfer of some governing power from administrators to a network of students. John Buschman asks in Democratic theory and LIS, “Can […] a library support intellectual freedom for its community without practicing it as a workplace?” The Olin Library cannot provide a complete answer to this question; its case study offers only the opposite, that yes, at least one library can support intellectual freedom while practicing it as a workplace.

     This question was tested in the negative at Long Island University when faculty, including librarians, were locked out for twelve days by the administration in a preemptive response to possible strikes over union contract negotiations. In a different session at METRO, Emily Drabinski and Aliqe Geraci detailed how the faculty organized with support from the well-organized library union, additional support from students, other unions, and professional associations. In a quote from the New York Times, Drabinski says, “We made a really clear statement that you can’t run a university without faculty and without students.” This was just one example of a library where empowerment of collective decision making- in this case faculty contract negotiations- was met with administrative absolutism. While Olin was successful in taking advantage of its assets to improve library experience for its specific patrons, the mixed reaction from the community of librarians at the METRO conference demonstrated a need for an acknowledgement of broader issues facing democratic theory and the library field at large when highlighting the success of an unusual institution.

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Benkler, Y. (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Yale University Press.

Bromwich, J. E., & Robbins, L. (2016, September 14). Faculty Lockout at L.I.U.-Brooklyn Ends With Contract Agreement. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/15/nyregion/faculty-lockout-at-liu-brooklyn-ends-with-contract-agreement.html

Buschman, J. (2007). Democratic Theory in LIS: Toward an Emendation. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 1483–1496.

Wolin, S. S. (2000) . Political Theory: From Vocation to Invocation. In J. A. Frank & J. Tambornino (Eds.), Vocations of Political Theory (pp. 3-22) . Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Protected: Lost (and Found) Cultural Figures

By nramauta

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