Posts Tagged ‘ equal access ’

Journal 09-25-03

Well, this is probably a strange journal overall.  Some entries I typed from free writing and others I wrote straight onto the computer, either by adding on to discussion topics or creating an original entry.  So, it probably lacks consistency overall.  But, I guess if it isn’t clear in other entries, I can say it here, that I do feel more confident about the issues we’ve discussed in this class.  Whereas at first I was completely overwhelmed by the multiplicity of areas that the information sciences cover, now I feel I can approach it with a growing curiosity.  I am still overwhelmed in as much as if I get going on a topic I tend to be more impassioned than intelligible.  But I think I’m learning more and more.

An article I read recently really takes a bite out of all this realm of our profession.  Rich Lowry in an article titled “The ideological librarians” would have us bottom feeding (as  the joke goes) with the lawyers of the world.  He doesn’t seem to have liked that we’ve let our hair down and become impassioned about civil liberties.  Instead, he seems to be more in a state of shock, revealing a bit of fear of abandonment, as he reflectively defines librarians by the books he learned to read as a kid.  This is just what John Ashcroft also did in his statement regarding the ALA “hype” over the Patriot Act.

My initial entry essay to this degree program was filled with excitement precisely at the fact that it was so obvious to me that the library profession is changing, that we’ve “come unbunned”.  Though I had no idea to what extent I would become involved in this, I am no less confident about this evolving mission.  I do have to wonder, after reading articles like these, if I am (we are?) too isolated in this vision when all around people outside the profession don’t seem to have a clue what librarians do.

To Lowry’s credit, he does bring issues to light that we have discussed in class, especially in the area of fashionable librarians’ and libraries’ social service bent (e.g. the homeless) while contrasting that to the majesty of the more traditional library (e.g. Library of Alexandria).  He also raises questions that I have not yet answered for myself (e.g. Internet access filters).  If nothing else, I think the rising voice of the ALA to these and other issues of public concern is a dramatic statement to our changing role.  So, I guess it is to be expected that it takes people by surprise.  Lowry’s opinion will not stop the change, and perhaps his voice is a diamond in the rough if it causes people to see a little bit of the revolution at hand!

Journal 09-01-03

Stuck on I70 just past St. Louis, I came upon a threshold.  At this threshold — which varies from individual, surely — people begin to NEED desperately to have information.  We sat here on the road and I saw cars pass by slowly coming to a halt, some driving past on the shoulder to get ahead of the rest.   Next, people began to stretch their necks out their window trying to see what was going on, grasp a little visual info.  Then, people are out of their cars altogether, attempting ever more vigorously to obtain an idea, even — a why,  if not a how — for the traffic jam.  Observing this chain of events made me all the more positive about the issue in Fahrenheit that the question of why is more valuable, cuts deeper than how. Further proof in my roadway experience was that even when the traffic picked up (quickly even) there wasn’t anything left of the cause for our jam.  No cars on the shoulder, no emergency vehicles.  This left me frustrated.  I was actually more frustrated  not knowing why we were held up than I was at the fact of that I was held up. And I wondered if anyone else was too.

I also wonder about the whole cell phone phenomenon,  People walk around, drive around, sit around with it glued to the ear.  Worse, are the lack of privacy and the addition of noise pollution that these devices cause (not to mention a driving distraction).  I wonder how this has affected other libraries.  Increased cell phone usage, especially among college students,  has affected policy at my library in a couple of ways.  We have taken out all payphones  in the building (maybe one is left, not sure).  In addition, a proposal to have a courtesy phone at the circulation or reference desk was not approved for the reason that most students carry cell phones.  This not only potentially deprives those who do not have a cell phone of equal access to information, but in the case of the payphone, it deprives the library of a source of income (although I do not know how significant).  Another problem, is that many libraries have policies that require patrons to turn their cell phones off.  How does this all fit  with freedom of access issues we are constantly discussing?  How does the value of quiet of the library remain relevant?  What are the implications of these sacrifices.

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