Visiting the Literature and Art of Our Youth

By MooreAbstract

The Eric Carle Museum is the only one of its kind to solely dedicate attention to children’s picture book art. This is a place that praises the illustrator and her work. Located in Amherst Massachusetts, the Carle aims to collect, preserve, present and commemorate picture books for children. Eric and Barbara Carle founded the Museum in November 2002. Eric Carle is a renowned author, artist/illustrator in the world of children’s literature. He is famously known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug, and illustrator of Bill Martin’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Carle has a distinct and recognizable style; he uses tissue paper collage, which is often combined with acrylic paint, pencil, and crayons. His artistic intention is it to bridge the gap between learning and merriment. He uses his love for nature and vibrant images to capture the reader’s interest and attention. His Museum, commonly known as The Carle, embodies the same intention, to provide a space in which children and adults can enjoy art, literature, and education without the restrictions and ambience of a traditional museum.

 

I had the opportunity visit the Carle and speak with the Director of Education Courtney Waring, and Museum Educator Emily Prahbaker. Visiting The Carle allowed me to venture away from a library setting, but experience and environment that caters to a young audience. I meet with the two professionals to inquire about their interest in the field, and how they achieved their professional positions.

 

The Carle is rather small building but voluminous within. The museum contains two galleries, library, café/resting area, gift shop, and theatre. I knew I was in the children orientated environment, when one of the stalls in the rest room had funky shaped toilet set, along with Eric Carle animals formatted into bathroom tiles. My tour was lead by the Director of Education, Courtney Waring. Courtney gave me a tour to the show room that was dedicated to the life and work of Eric Carle. The works shown were Carle’s original works aligned with his revision. Whenever Carle’s books are to be republished he recreate his work to make sure the work is more colorful and vibrant compared the original. In addition, there is also artwork from his early career in illustration and advertisement. In the middle of the showroom was a desk that displayed all of the materials he uses for his illustrations. Courtney mentioned that Carle wanted to display his material to show children that the work he produced could be mimicked by anyone. These materials are accessible to anyone and install the idea that you do not need expensive material to make quality art. After, I saw their current exhibit of the illustrations from Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy. The Carle has another gallery but it was under construction to feature the work of Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline.

 

Afterwards, I saw the museum’s library. It was small but contained enough content for it’s audience. Its collection was primarily children picture books, with few chapter books on display. Furthermore they dedicated a shelf to Caldecott awarded books. What I thought was interesting and radical about their library was that it was arranged by illustrators last name, and then title of the book. The library the Carle also holds story time, which is often conducted in the galleries. Later, Courtney provided me more insight about the services the Carle offers to their community. I was later provided insight on how Courtney came to the Carle, along with the approaches and methods that are used in the museum to promote literacy and engagement.

ericcarlebooks

The Eric Carle Museum uses several approaches to promote literacy, arts and engagement. The Visual Thinking Stategies, the Whole Book Approach, and inspiration from the Reggio Emilia educational learning project. The Visual Think Strategies is a learner-centered method to examine and find meaning in visual art through a sequence of carefully selected fine art images…Students look carefully, develop opinions, express themselves, consider multiple viewpoints, speculate together, argue, debate, and build on each other’s ideas, and sometimes revise their conclusions[i]. Furthermore, this strategy uses art to help children practice respectful, democratic, collaborative problem solving. The Carle uses VTS open-ended question to engage the children in discussions about the illustrations in a book. However, the Whole Book Approach further emphasizes this dialogue by allowing children to explore all parts of the book, cover to cover, page to page. Lastly, the Carle embodies the ideas of Reggio Emilia educational learning methods. The Reggio believe that children have the right and the ability to express their thinking, theories, ideas, learning and emotions in many ways. Therefore, Reggio educators provide children with a wide range of materials and media, and welcome a diversity of experiences, so that children encounter many avenues for thinking, revising, constructing, negotiating, developing and symbolically expressing their thoughts and feelings[ii]. Emily Prahbakers, who is the Museum Educator, further explained these methods. With her masters from Simmons in Children’s Literature and Library Science, Emily conducts literacy and art programs within the museum and in the community. Emily uses and is a firm believer in encouraging children to have a dialogue about art and literature. Promoting the use of dialogue with children allows for them to make personal and worldly connections with the theme, and message of the book. She believes that a group interaction can empower, and permit children to explore the world around them. This approach leads children to engage in open-thinking. I share the same belief and practice similar methods with the work I do at my library. After witnessing the bizarre feeling of having children stare out of boredom, I have encouraged and ignited dialogue during story time so that they can be an active part of the reading experience.

carlelibrary

Speaking to the Director of Education and the Museum Educator allowed me the share interest in children’s literature, plus promoting and advocating for dialogue in literacy for young children. The Carle is a unique facility to praise children picture book illustrations. Museums and libraries have the power to provide alternate educational methods to encourage children to have fun while learning. The service that is available at the Eric Carle Museum is probably the most organic educational interaction a child can experience today.

[i] Eric Carle Museum

[ii] The North American Reggio Emilia Alliance

 

The Great and Powerful…

By MooreAbstract

Do you remember the Wizard of Oz? I hope so, or else this will not make sense to the ones who do not. Dorothy and her friends went on a journey to see the great and powerful Oz to ask a certain request. This process can be translatable to those who go to the archives for answers. The archives, in a way, can be seen as the great and powerful Oz. The people of the town go to Oz for answers; he is all knowing. However, Oz magnificence was an illusion, he was merely a man.

 

Oz, and the archive have very similar purpose and position in society. The archive is a place and idea that holds power in the ways we preserve and shape knowledge and memory. But with this power comes great responsibility (thank you spider-man), in other words, where there is power of selection there is the power to exclude and silence.

 

The archive is a truly powerful and political domain. The archive has the ability to not only persevere, and organize information; this domain essentially shapes our knowledge and memory of the past. Yet, the power of selection can also be countered with omission. “Archives are ‘how we know ourselves as individuals, groups, and societies,’” (Carter, 2006) it helps shape one’s identity. However, amongst all the resources that is collected, how does the archivist determine what shall be preserved or forgotten? This question is closely knitted into the issue of archival alienation and silence. Archivist Rodney G.S. Carter notes, “the power to exclude is a fundamental aspect of the archive. Inevitable, there are distortions, omissions, erasures, and silence in the archive,” (2006) not everyone’s voices are heard, especially the marginalized. If the records of these groups are manipulated and destroyed, or excluded, [their narratives] cannot be transmitted across time, the records about this group may ultimately disappear from history (2006).

 

There are three types of powers that are possessed by the archive: control over collective memory, control of preservation, and specifically to the archivist, the interpretation and meditation between records and users. This amount of power is astounding, and scary. These powers shape what and how we learn. It was interesting that archivist Randall Jimerson, suggested archivist to embrace this power. However, there was a catch. We should embrace the powers, in order to use them for greatness. I believe this can be applied to reference librarians as well. Librarians hold somewhat power in the community, because we provide access to service and information that our residents interests or needs. By embracing this power, we can keep ourselves in check in terms of what to record and materials to exclude, how to intercept and provide access to the user.

 

However, the power to exclude materials can, and often leads to archival silence. Archival silence is gaps of information that are not present in a collection. These gaps are often records that connect or represent marginalized groups. Archival silence are gaps in preserved texts such as written, visual, audio-visual, and electronic which are “currency of archives” (2006) These text are often not representable of society. Oftentimes, the history accounted for are from the viewpoint of those in power or privileged, this act can leave a void in the collective memory because it excludes the viewpoints of the minorities or underprivileged. This silence can lead to a lack of identity. Most importantly, these gaps can lead to a history being forgotten or distorted.

 

The duty to be mindful of the gaps within the archive should be accepted by librarians and archivists. There are several tactics that were suggested by numerous archivists that will be helpful in the profession. The first is using a feminist critique to listen to the silences. This is done by listening to the omissions and interrogating the powerful (Carter, 2006). Secondly, archivist Randall Jimerson suggests embracing the power of the archive. By doing so, we can use the power for good, to use our power of knowledge preservations and memory formation to protect the public interest (2005). In addition, it is best, I believe, for anyone in the research profession, to eliminate as much bias in our process mainly neutrality. The act to not take a stance is a loose form of indifference. In addition, by acknowledging bias we avoid using power indiscriminately, or accidentally (Carter, 2006). Lastly, acquiring a social responsibility will help foster awareness and activism to address this type of archival discourse. These tactics will not solve this issue but will hinder the possibility of future gaps.

 

For those who wish to pursue the life of an archivist, or a librarian for the matter, be aware of this issue. Be conscious of your selection of material and look for ways in which you can be inclusive. It is a part of our social responsibility in a democratic society to notice alienation in our collection whether it is the library or archives. This awareness can enable information professionals to vocalize those who are misrepresented; this inclusion can lead to proper representation, positive formation of memory and identity.

 


 

 

Carter, R. (2006). Of Things Said and Unsaid: Power, Archival Silences, and Power in       Silence. Archivaria, 61(61). Retrieved October 22, 2014,             fromhttp://journals.sfu.ca/archivar/index.php/archivaria/article/view/12541/13687

 

Jimerson R. C. (2005). Embracing the Power of Archives. Society of American        Archivist. Retrieved October 20, 2014, from             http://www.archivists.org/governance/presidential/jimerson.asp

 

Jimerson, R. C. (2009). Archive Power: Memory, accountability, and social justice.            Chicago: The Society of American Archivist.

Why Are You Here?

By MooreAbstract

mummy1 mummy2

mummy3mummy4

 

Whether you are a librarian or a librarian in training, I think we all can relate to Evelyn ‘Evy’ Carnahan (or so I hope). If you were to tell my 18-year-old self that I was going to pursue my graduate studies in Library Science in hope of being a librarian, I would have brushed you off. I wasn’t a reader nor, did I spend time in the library unless it was for a group project. However, after working for the children’s department for the past four years, I never want to leave the place (sometimes). I can proudly say I am happy with what I am studying and I ­­cannot wait to get in the field. But this article is not about my love for library, or of the sorts.

 

I was presented with an issue that I would have never considered: philosophy of librarianship. Of course, I believe most professions have an embedded philosophy or addressed “why do what we do? Why are we needed?” For those who are in the profession or in their studies, I suggest that you read Andre Cossette’s Humanism and Libraries: An Essay on the Philosophy of Librarianship. His essay attempts to identify or what should the philosophy behind librarianship. His argument is very defensive however; he essay can stir up your inner “Evelyn ‘Evy’ Carnahan”. If the reader was to cast his opinion to the side, the essay can challenge your views and opinions of the role and importance of the library and the librarian.

 

I think there is a contemporary belief that the role of the library and the librarian will diminish due to the dominant presence of technology. The library’s identity crisis fluctuates between the fear of losing its value to technology and the increasing need and demand for information resource and access. Maybe this crisis can be blamed on the idea that librarianship lacks a unified and clear philosophical doctrine or consensus. I would have never pondered the idea of a philosophy for this field but that very thought signifies that this topic should be brought to awareness, which it is. Cossette believes the lack of philosophy can inhibit the librarian’s ability to express the importance of “why do this work? Why are we valuable?”

 

One of my professors stated this claim, which I will always keep in mind, especially in terms of this field. She said if you do not understand your history, you will not understand your value. The awareness of the history of library information teaches students its purpose, and who did or do libraries serve. These facets can contribute to our philosophy. I came across two definitions of philosophy of librarianship. First Cossette’s believes that the library purpose is to disseminate information. The patron is overwhelmed with all the messages, facts and ideas, therefore the library is an institution that organizes, assembles, and provides the user access. He does agree that the library can be a place to provide education and preservation. Why do we exist according to Cossette? To give information to the community, so that they can be well informed, make constructive decisions, and become a more democratic society.

 

Another reading that I came across was Librarianship and the Philosophy of Information by Ken R. Herold of Hamilton College. He addressed the same ideas as those who commented on this issue. Yet, he believes the quest of information philosophy should not overlook the “importance of books, or printed knowledge, or [music, sound, and other realia]” (Herold, 2005), but he addresses that librarians should recognize the demand of information and be active participants in the discussion of identifying a philosophy for information science professionals.

 

I agree, with both writers. The library is present to provide access to information and knowledge. However we have or will come across of type of reference task that require book request, creation or management of programs that cater to their community’s interest or enhance their knowledge. I accept all viewpoints. Yet I believe to stand solely one side of this issue can limit our purpose, potential, and significance.

 

As an avid library advocate, I have experienced the library as an institution that is available for the community. The library is an establishment that aims to create an educated and cultured population. To provide them needs that is accessible. To preserve culture and information that could have or be lost over time. We are like the community historian. The grandparent if you will; we provide information of the past, teach new skills, keep you updated on current events. Invite you over for projects, a place for comfort and learning.

 

So what’s my point? Like Cossette, and Herold, I bring this concern for you to be mindful of. If you are in the field, maybe you experience the significance of your work. It may not be something you experience everyday but you feel like you have a responsibility. For those like me who are just learning and beginning to get their foot through the door, we need to keep in mind of this issue of having a philosophy. Answer this, why do have library’s? Why do we do what we do? Why are you here?


 

Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.

–Ray Bradbury

 

Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.

-Neil Gaiman

 


 

Reference

 

Cossette, A. (2009). Humanism and libraries: An essay in the philosophy of         librarianship. Library Juice Press: Duluth, Minnesota.

 

Herold, K. R. (2005). Librarianship and the Philosophy of Information. Library          Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). Vol 3, paper 27.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License
.

WordPress theme based on Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.