January 10, 2017
Libraries: Culture, History, and Society is now accepting submissions for our second issue, to be published in Fall 2017. A semiannual peer-reviewed publication from the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association and the Penn State University Press, LCHS will be available in print and online via JSTOR and Project Muse.
The only journal in the United States devoted to library history, LCHS positions library history as its own field of scholarship, while promoting innovative cross-disciplinary research on libraries’ relationships with their unique environments. LCHS brings together scholars from many disciplines to examine the history of libraries as institutions, collections, and services, as well as the experiences of library workers and users. There are no limits of time and space, and libraries of every type are included (private, public, corporate, and academic libraries, and special collections). In addition to Library Science, the journal welcomes contributors from History, English, Literary Studies, Sociology, Education, Gender/Women’s Studies, Race/Ethnic Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Architecture, Anthropology, Geography, Economics, and other disciplines.
Submissions for volume 1, issue 2, are due February 24, 2017. Manuscripts must be submitted electronically through LCHS’s Editorial Manager system at http://www.editorialmanager.com/LCHS/default.aspx. They must also conform to the instructions for authors at http://bit.ly/LCHScfp1. New scholars, and authors whose work is in the “idea” stage, are welcomed to contact the editors if they would like guidance prior to submission.
We are excited to see this journal become a reality. We welcome your thoughts as we establish a platform for studying libraries within their broader humanistic and social contexts.
For further questions, please contact the editors:
Bernadette Lear, BAL19@psu.edu
Eric Novotny, ECN1@psu.edu
July 5, 2016
From Bernadette Lear and Eric Novotny:
Libraries: Culture, History, and Society
We are delighted to announce that Libraries: Culture, History, and Society is now accepting submissions for our premiere issue to be published in Spring 2017.
A semiannual peer-reviewed publication from the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association and the Penn State University Press, LCHS will be available in print and online via JSTOR and Project Muse.
The only journal in the United States devoted to library history, LCHS positions library history as its own field of scholarship, while promoting innovative cross-disciplinary research on libraries’ relationships with their unique environments. LCHS brings together scholars from many disciplines to examine the history of libraries as institutions, collections, and services, as well as the experiences of library workers and users. There are no limits of time and space, and libraries of every type are included (private, public, corporate, and academic libraries, special collections and manuscripts). In addition to Library Science, the journal welcomes contributors from History, English, Literary Studies, Sociology, Education, Gender/Women’s Studies, Race/Ethnic Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Architecture, Anthropology, Geography, Economics, and other disciplines.
Submissions for volume 1, issue 1, are due August 29, 2016.
Manuscripts may be submitted electronically through LCHS’s Editorial Manager system at http://www.editorialmanager.com/LCHS/default.aspx. They must also conform to the instructions for authors at http://bit.ly/LCHScfp1.
We are excited to see this journal become a reality and welcome your thoughts (and submissions!) as we create a new platform for studying libraries within their broader humanistic and social contexts.
For further questions, please contact the editors:
Bernadette Lear, BAL19@psu.edu
Eric Novotny, ECN1@psu.edu
May 6, 2015
ALISE 2016, Boston, MA, January 5-8, 2016
Historical Perspectives Special Interest Group Call for Papers
DEADLINE: June 30, 2015
In keeping with the 2016 ALISE Conference Theme, “Radical Change: Inclusion and Innovation,” the Historical Perspectives SIG invites submissions for individual papers, or for a 3+ person panel program that examines the history of radical change, innovators, or inclusion in LIS education. Historical research that explores some of the persistent questions related to pedagogy and educational reform in LIS education is encouraged. If you have something in mind that is not related to the conference theme, we invite you to propose different topics. This call is open to anyone working in the field of library and information science, regardless of occupational label.
In order to make the July 15th ALISE SIG deadline submission, submit 300 – 500 word abstracts in PDF, ODT, or DOCX format by June 30, 2015, to Susan Rathbun-Grubb, firstname.lastname@example.org or C. Sean Burns, email@example.com.
February 16, 2015
Roots and Flowers: The Life and Work of the Afro-Cuban Librarian Marta Terry González
Authors: Abdul Alkalimat and Kate Williams
Published: February 2015
Printed on acid-free paper
This book introduces North Americans and other general readers to 1) the role of Afro-Cubans in Cuban history and culture, particularly in the 20th century, and 2) librarianship in the context of the Cuban revolution. Considering these two related subjects through the life and work of Marta Terry, Cuba will serve as an example for other Africans in the Americas and for all library workers in times of social change.
Marta Terry directed three centrally important Cuban libraries. Beginning in 1961 she was Che Guevara’s librarian when he organized the National Planning Board (JUCEPLAN) that set the post-1958 course for Cuba’s development. From 1967-1987, she was library director at the Casa de Las Americas, the organization built and led by Haydee Santamaria that published and connected writers and their readers from across Latin America and set a model for combining liberation politics and innovative cultural production. From 1987-1997, she was director of the José Martí National Library, at which time the library was assigned responsibility for all public library development on the Island and then managed through the collapse of the Soviet Union, then Cuba’s #1 trading partner and source of hard currency. A participant in international library gatherings since the 1950s, Marta Terry was also the point person in establishing Cuba’s international library reputation and connections through IFLA, bringing their annual meeting to Latin America for the first time in Havana in 1994. She was then also point person in defending Cuba from the US-government sponsored attack that followed, under the guise of the so-called “independent libraries.”
Abdul Alkalimat is professor emeritus of African American studies and library and information science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Kate Williams is associate professor of library and information science at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
December 3, 2014
Justin Winsor Library History Essay Award: Call for Papers
The Justin Winsor Library History Essay Award is presented by the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association annually to recognize the best essay written in English on library history. The award is named in honor of the distinguished nineteenth-century librarian, historian, and bibliographer who was also ALA’s first president. It consists of a certificate and a $500 cash award, as well as an invitation to have the winner’s essay considered for publication in Information & Culture: A Journal of History. If the winning essay is accepted for publication, additional revisions may be required.
Manuscripts submitted should not be previously published, previously submitted for publication, or under consideration for publication or another award. To be considered, essays should embody original historical research on a significant topic in library history, be based on primary sources whenever possible, and use good English composition and superior style. The Library History Round Table is particularly interested in works that place the subject within its broader historical, social, cultural, and political context and make interdisciplinary connections with print culture and information studies. Essays should be organized in a form similar to that of articles published in Information & Culture: A Journal of History, with footnotes, spelling and punctuation conforming to the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. Papers should not exceed thirty-five typewritten, double-spaced pages (plus footnotes and bibliography).
Submissions and Selection
Applicants must send five copies of the manuscript or submit electronically. The name and other information identifying the author should appear only on a separate cover letter. Applications must be received by January 31, 2015. Receipt will be confirmed with four business days.
Submit manuscripts to:
LHRT: Justin Winsor Award Committee
Office for Research and Statistics
American Library Association
50 East Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
or send files electronically to:
with Subject line: LHRT: Justin Winsor Award Committee
October 21, 2014
Recommended reading: LibrarianShipwreck on the fate of the Emma Goldman Papers…
October 20, 2014
*CALL FOR PAPERS*
Library History Seminar XIII:
Libraries: Traditions and Innovations
July 31 – August 2, 2015
Pre-Conference Tours, July 30-31, 2015
Graduate School of Library & Information Science
Boston, MA 02115
Boston, Massachusetts, the site of the Library History Seminar XIII, provides an apt setting to explore traditions and innovations in libraries. The Boston area is home to many important library innovations
in North America, including the first university library and the first large, free municipal library. At the same time, new information institutions continue to be created here, of which the Digital Public Library of America and the Digital Commonwealth of online heritage materials are two recent examples.
With Boston as the backdrop, this conference seeks to delve into the enduring and evolving aspects of libraries and librarianship. The convergence and divergence of the physical and the digital may result in
opportunities and challenges that we do not yet realize. Traditionally libraries have made their collections available to defined audiences, but today it is increasingly difficult to define and delineate user communities. At the same time, so-called “disruptive technologies” in publishing are resulting in new approaches to the collection and dissemination of information. The Library History Seminar XIII will provide a lively forum for such scholarly debate.**
We encourage the submission of papers and panels that explore the notion of the library, from brick-and-mortar to digital. Topics include, but are not limited to, the history of library services and types, library architecture, the library as place, library users (digital and virtual), library communities, challenges and opportunities of cyberspace, disruptive technologies, social media and networking, pop-up libraries, online learning, and social reading.
Proposals should include a 200-250 word abstract of the paper, along with the name, title, affiliation, and email address of the author. Panels should include an abstract for each paper, as well as an abstract
for the panel. All proposals should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org with the paper and panel proposals attached in a word or pdf document. Any queries regarding the conference should also be submitted to email@example.com.
THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO NOVEMBER 15, 2014.
August 7, 2014
This news from the Electronic Freedom Foundation:
UNSEALED: The US Sought Permission To Change The Historical Record Of A Public Court Proceeding
A few weeks ago we fought a battle for transparency in our flagship NSA spying case, Jewel v. NSA. But, ironically, we weren’t able to tell you anything about it until now.
On June 6, the court held a long hearing in Jewel in a crowded, open courtroom, widely covered by the press. We were even on the local TV news on two stations. At the end, the Judge ordered both sides to request a transcript since he ordered us to do additional briefing. But when it was over, the government secretly, and surprisingly sought permission to “remove” classified information from the transcript, and even indicated that it wanted to do so secretly, so the public could never even know that they had done so.
June 1, 2014
The SRRT discussion list has been alive recently with comments – objections, to be accurate – to ALA’s decision to present a screening and discussion of the controversial 1977 film, The Speaker. Here is a sampling of some of the better ones, from Al Kagan, Pat Schuman, and Mitch Freedman, followed by a link to a good resource for further study of this, put together by the ALA Library.
On Wed, May 21, 2014 at 7:39 AM, Kagan, Al wrote:
I find it outrageous that the film is coming back to haunt us. Most of the the key players of that time have died, but there still are a few people around who could contextualize the serious outrage that this caused with passion. I am surprised that the Black Caucus would co-sponsor it. One of the presenters is Bob Wedgeworth. He played a key role in the production and hid the real intent from almost everyone of what was going on. The debacle overshadowed everything else in Eric Moon’s presidency. Here is a short excerpt from my forthcoming book:
Major Owens said that it revealed a “secret agenda of racism,” and E. J. Josey asked members “to support the humanity of black people.”[i] Sandy Berman circulated a statement that was signed by sixty-five prominent librarians. It read in part,
WE ARE ASHAMED AND DISGUSTED. The American Library Association has produced a film, The Speaker, that purports to deal with intellectual freedom and the First Amendment. It does not. Instead, it distorts and confounds the First Amendment. But even worse than this intellectual dishonesty is the film’s wanton assault upon Black people. In effect, it says: “Blacks are irrational. Blacks are unprincipled. Blacks must be ‘protected’ by Whites. And Blacks may indeed be less than fully human.”[ii]
Bill Eshelman, editor of Wilson Library Journal, put it this way:
…The decision to make the ‘liberals’ the villains who wish to prohibit the free speech of the “reactionary” is very strange and flies in the face of the facts of American, if not ALA history…It makes one question whether the IFC knows who the real enemies of the First Amendment are.”[iii]
[i] Kister, 343.
[ii] Sanford Berman, “E.J. and Me: Twenty Years of Correspondence and Agitation,” in E.J. Josey: An Activist Librarian, ed. Ismail Abdullahi (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1992), 72.
[iii] Eshelman, 254. See also Donnarae MacCann, ed., Social Responsibility in Librarianship: Essays on Equality (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1989), 7-8.
Pat Schuman wrote:
Actually there are at least three Past-Presidents — Mitch Freedman, Betty Turock, and myself who are very much alive and very much around and can offer context. John Berry, who is also very much present at ALA, reported extensively on the issue.
It is disturbing that even the current press release announcing the film’s showings and the program already indicates a bias by saying:
“Many ALA members objected to the film’s subject matter and the process by which the film was produced. ”
WRONG. What many of us who voted against ALA distributing the Speaker objected to was the poor manner in which the “the subject matter” was treated –for example, the racist stereotyping of the characters, and the false dichotomy of the film ( if you are upset by racist comments you must be for censorship). No one suggested destroying the film. Personally, I opposed giving it ALA’s imprint, not because it dealt with inviting a racist speaker, but the WAY it dealt with the reactions. Many others were also appalled, including the President and the President-elect at the time (Eric Moon and Clara Jones) as well as future President and founder of the ALA Black Caucus EJ Josey. Clara, by the way, was the first African American to direct a major public library ( Detroit) and the first to become President of AL A. A vote against ALA putting its imprimatur on the the film was not a vote for suppressing or destroying it. Our votes were no more for “censorship,” than American Libraries rejecting an article, or ALA Publishing deciding to reject a book that did not meet its standards. The Speaker was poorly conceived and poorly executed. We did not want it to be the representation of our Associations view of intellectual freedom to the world. The marketplace obviously agreed — only a few hundred copues were sold.
Of course, in those days we were often bludgeoned with cries of censorship when we discussed to racism and sexism in children’s books, objected to sexist language, etc. We can only hope that the discussion does not deteriorate once more into a meaningless, but very destructive, hurtful–and false– “intellectual freedom vs. social responsibility debate.”
Deidre may be right. Ignoring this turn of events may be the best course of action. Members can judge for themselves how bad the film looks now, and how it must have looked in the context if the mid -seventies ( barely a decade after ALA itself desegrated its Chapters).
As Pat indicated, I too was appalled by The Speaker.
It was a warped and bad idea that never should have seen the light of day. But once ALA paid for it–which purportedly made it beyond reproach & criticism–trying to get it put away because of its overall defectiveness was targeted as “censorship”.
As ALA Honorary Member designate, Patricia Glass Schuman indicates below, discarding a book that turned out to be unworthy of addition to the library collection is what we call collection development, not censorship.
The movie was sooooo bad.
One of its joys that permanently stuck in my mind was that the African-American who had dark skin was portrayed as a “bad” guy (a censor) and the “good” guy was a very light-skinned African-American. That little piece of its reality was one of the reasons I opposed it.
Judith Krug, the head of the Intellectual Freedom Office and a bosom buddy of Nat Hentoff’s got the whole intellectual freedom community to defend her egregious error, i.e. the release of the movie. Of course Hentoff went after any opponents of the film as betrayers of ALA, intellectual freedom and the First Amendment.
I ask you, if you buy a DVD or a book that turns out to be a piece of crap when you read or preview it, what do you do? Put it in the trash because its lousy, or publicize and disseminate it so you can’t be called a censor.
A great example from real life:
A really sweet guy and director of a rural Minnesota library system ordered a few copies of the Illustrated Report of the Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. When the books came in, he realized that they were published by a San Diego porn house, and that the report was an excuse for publishing all of the pornographic photos. The funny part of the story is that he put the books in a drawer in his desk. He woke up in the middle of the night terrified that he might die before the morning and people would find the books in his desk and would think he was a librarian who not so secretly kept a stash of porn in his desk.
The next day when he discarded them permanently because they were a wholly unintended horrible mistake, the same advocates for The Speaker would accuse him of censorship–at least if they were consistent.
If instead it was okay to dump it because it was a terrible mistake, then rather than being censorship it was reconsideration of what was a mistake.
Well, folks, all opposition to The Speaker was tarred with the censorship brush.
And all of its defenders were front line freedom fighters defending the First Amendment who fought the repressive librarian censors.
I see no difference between the two cases: the porn books honestly ordered and honestly thrown out because it turned out their selection and purchase were a terrible mistake; and the case of The Speaker which was created with–I trust–good intentions, but which turned out to be a divisive, degrading and dishonest movie.
Sadly because it had IFC’s imprimatur it became the cause of the intellectual freedom establishment.
I’ll fight censors, but when something is crap, it’s my job to not compound the mistake by keeping the item in the library for fear of being called a censor.
E.J. Josey the foremost African-American of librarianship for all time, fought The Speaker with his heart and soul.
That the Black Caucus is bringing it back must have E.J.’s spirit weeping the bitterest of tears.
mitch freedman, ALA President, 2002-2003?
For further reference:
Pathfinder of resources on The Speaker compiled by the ALA Library:
May 30, 2014
Andrew Salvati of H-Net has written a review of the Litwin Books title, Prophets of the Fourth Estate: Broadsides by Press Critics of the Progressive Era, by Amy Reynolds and Gary Hicks. His review starts like this:
Comcast, Disney, NewsCorp, TimeWarner–in the second decade of the twenty-first century, the corporate parentage and commercialization of American news organizations are widely recognized and well entrenched. Even PBS has gotten into the ratings game by subscribing to Nielsen. For critics, the commercial orientation of the news media inevitably conflicts with ideas about the role of a free and independent press in a democratic society. As media ownership is concentrated in fewer hands and becomes organized on a for-profit basis, it seems less likely that journalism can provide a venue for public deliberation or present an effective check on these powerful interests.
In their recent book Prophets of the Fourth Estate, communication scholars Amy Reynolds and Gary Hicks show us that this kind of critical perspective on the press is part of a tradition in American journalism that predates the rise of corporate media in the late twentieth century. Turning to the activist journalism of the Progressive Era, Reynolds and Hicks republish some of the earliest expressions of press criticism–a strand of muckraking that denounced the corrupting influence of commercial interests on American newspapers and periodicals. Featuring the work of Oswald Garrison Villard, Charles Edward Russell, and Moorfield Storey, among others, the reprinted articles presented in Prophets of the Fourth Estate, together with Reynolds and Hicks’s contextualizing essays, are a worthwhile addition to the existing literature on the critical journalism of the early twentieth century.
Read more here…
May 20, 2014
ALA has announced that there will be a screening and discussion of the controversial 1977 film, The Speaker, produced by ALA to educate people about intellectual freedom. ALA has now also made the film available on the web (details at the above link). The film was perceived by many to advocate an unacceptable tolerance of racism, and the firestorm that engulfed ALA at the time was severe. I think the event in Las Vegas stands a chance of being very interesting, but would be helped by sharing a bit of the context surrounding the film’s original release. To that end, I am copying here a passage from Ken Kister’s excellent biography of Eric Moon, published by McFarland in 2002 (a book very much worth buying)…
The Speaker: Secret Project
Unfortunately for [Eric] Moon, these questions [of a National Information Policy] were not uppermost in the minds of many ALA members in Detroit, nor would they be at anytime during his presidency. Instead, beginning in June 1977 and continuing well into 1978 the attention of most members was riveted on a much more emotional – and inflammatory – concern: what to do about an ALA-sponsored film called The Speaker, which, shades of the 1960s, again brought the association face to face with the sickening smirch of racism? Moon was nonplussed. The last thing he wanted was a great commotion diverting attention from his information policy initiative, which would be difficult enough to achieve in the best of circumstances. Yet neither he nor anyone else in the association had the power to quell The Speaker controversy once it raged out of control. Like a virulent disease, animus created by the film infected and overwhelmed the association in 1977 and 1978, and national information policy, never a crowd pleaser, got lost among all the angry words and hurt feelings.
Prior to the Detroit conference, the large majority of rank-and-file ALA members knew little or nothing about The Speaker, though several items in the library press, that spring, notably a John Berry editorial, “A Whimper for Freedom,” in the June 1, 1977, issue of LJ [Library Journal], warned that the film had problems and could be trouble. In addition, some insiders, including members of the Executive Board, had viewed the film at private screenings in April and May, and there had been a festive “premiere” in California in mid-May for the cast, production crew, and invited guests. Once in Detroit, however, everyone had an opportunity to see The Speaker and learn the basic facts.
Subtitled A Film About Freedom, the 42-minute 16mm color production was completed in April 1977 and ALA, the copyright holder, began processing 150 advance orders in the middle of June, just days before the opening of the Detroit conference. The ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee sponsored the film, with Judith Krug, director of the association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, credited as executive producer. Lee R. Bobker, president of Vision Associates, the New York production company that made the film, was producer-director. Bobker also coauthored the script (originally called Days in the Death of Freedom) with Barbara Eisberg.
From the outset The Speaker project was envisioned as an exploration of the First Amendment in contemporary American society. The film’s plot, originally suggested by Archibald Cox (of noble Watergate fame), involves a fictionalized account of real-life efforts to prevent Dr. William Shockley, a Nobel Prize laureate in physics, from publicly speaking about his theories on race and specifically his belief that black people are genetically inferior to whites. The fact that Shockley had been denied the right to speak at Harvard University and other college campuses in the early 1970s disturbed Cox and like-minded academics concerned about the future of free speech in America. In the film, a high school current events club invites a Shockley-like character (called Dr. Boyd) to discuss his ideas about race at a school assembly, but others at the school and in the local community are outraged and pressure the club and its adviser, history teacher Victoria Dunn (played by acclaimed actress Mildred Dunnock), to rescind the invitation. Dunn and the club refuse, but in the end the speaker, who is never actually seen or heard in the film, is banned the the school board. The Speaker drew on the school’s student body and faculty for its interracial cast.
How did a film with such a story line come to be associated with ALA, especially since the plot has nothing directly to do with libraries? How did it happen that an organization riven by excruciating racial conflict just a dozen years before came to puts its imprimatur on a project built around the premise of black inferiority? Why did the controversy caused by the film dominate ALA business for practically an entire year, during which time Moon’s information policy proposal was wiped off the association’s radar screen? How did all of this happen? Who was responsible? …
To find the answer you’ll have to read the next 20 pages in the (7″ by 10″ format) book (available on Amazon).
While we’re on the topic of books from McFarland, I have two others on my shelves that have sections devoted to The Speaker and the controversy surrounding it: A Passage for Dissent: The Best of Sipapu, 1970-1988, by Noel Peattie, published in 1989, and Zoia! Memoirs of Zoia Horn, Battler for the People’s Right to Know, published in 1995. These books were part of the inspiration for our own contribution, the Library Juice Press Handbook of Intellectual Freedom: Concepts, Cases, and Theories, published this year. If this topic is interesting to you then you might want to take a look at it.
February 17, 2014
Print-on-demand from kiosks and electronic distribution of the news predicted in 1975…. Here is an excerpt from the 1975 book, Ecotopia, by Ernest “Chick” Callenbach. Thanks to Lincoln Cushing for sharing this with the PLG list…
Although the general picture of the Ecotopian media is one of almost anarchic decentralization, a jungle in which only the hardiest survive, here too we find paradoxes. For the newspapers, which are even smaller than our tabloids, are actually sold through electronic print-out terminals in the street kiosks, in libraries, and at other points; and these terminals are connected to central computer banks, whose facilities are “rented” by the publications. Two print-out inks are available, by the way: one lasts indefinitely, the other fades away in a few weeks so the paper can be immediately re-used.
This system is integrated with book publishing as well. Although many popular books are printed normally, and sold in kiosks and bookstores, more specialized titles must be obtained through a special print-out connection. You look the book’s number up in a catalogue, punch the number on a juke-box-like keyboard, study the blurb, sample paragraphs, and price displayed on a videoscreen, and deposit the proper number of coins if you wish to buy a copy. In a few minutes a print-out of the volume appears in a slot. These terminals, I am told, are not much used by city dwellers, who prefer the more readable printed books; but they exist in every corner of the country and can thus be used by citizens in rural areas to procure copies of both currently popular and specialized books. All of the 60,000-odd books published in Ecotopia since Independence are available, and about 50,000 earlier volumes. It is planned to increase this gradually to about 150,000. Special orders may also be placed, at higher costs, to scan and transmit any volume in the enormous national library at Berkeley.
This system is made possible by the same fact that enables Ecotopian book publication to be so much more rapid than ours: authors retype their edited final drafts on an electric typewriter that also makes a magnetic tape. This tape can be turned into printing plates in a few minutes, and it can simultaneously be fed into the central storage computer, so it is immediately available to the print-out terminals.
May 28, 2013
Import of the Archive: U.S. Colonial Rule of the Philippines and the Making of American Archival History
Author: Cheryl Beredo
Published: June 2013
Printed on acid-free paper
Published by Litwin Books
This book a part of the Series on Archives, Archivists, and Society, Richard J. Cox, editor.
Import of the Archive examines the role of archives in the United States’ colonization of the Philippines between 1898 and 1916. During this period the archives played a critical part in the United States’ entrenchment of a colonial state, exhibiting the flexibility and authority to enable arguments of the former colonial power’s incompetence and the native population’s incapacity.
Based on extensive research of and in archives in the Philippines and the United States, this book urges readers to consider archival history within the context of America’s imperial history. This book defines the archives broadly, as the accumulation material about a time proclaimed as “historic,” as well as the records of the Bureau of Insular Affairs and the United States’ Philippine Government, and the archives ceded by Spain per the treaty that ended the Spanish-American War.
Taking an historical approach to understanding the political function that archives played in this particular context, this book is intended for classroom use in archival studies curricula. A slim volume, it could be assigned with complementary books or articles on archives in other colonial contexts, critical analyses of libraries and archives, or any number of topics. It will also be of general interest to scholars of archival history and United States-Philippine relations.
May 23, 2013
Jesse Shera, Librarianship, and Information Science
Jesse Hauk Shera did perhaps more than any other figure in defining library and information science in the mid 20th century. He pioneered the application of information technology in libraries and in the field of documentation, as head of the American Documentation Institute (now ASIST), as a professor at the Graduate Library School in Chicago, and as head of the library school at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. At Western Reserve, Shera founded the Center for Documentation and Communication Research. But despite his efforts in introducing information technology to the field of libraries, Shera was a humanist and a historian who emphasized the human side of librarianship and the sociological nature of the profession, especially in his advancing years. His theory of social epistempology provided a philosophy for librarianship as a professional calling and as a research-oriented discipline, where deep subject knowledge and an understanding of the needs of readers are more important than technological tools.
H. Curtis Wright’s study, originally published in 1988 by Brigham Young University’s School of Information Sciences, is the only book-length biography of Shera that has been written. The focus of Wright’s biography is Shera’s role in defining and negotiating the boundaries of library science and information science, as he sought to make the most intelligent use of technology in libraries without getting lost in the capacities of the astounding tools that were being developed. Wright succeeds in showing how over a long career, Shera developed an intellectual foundation for librarianship that was dependent neither or the new ideas of information science and its technologies nor on traditional methods. This book is a superb introduction to Jesse Shera’s life and career and its meaning. Includes a foreword by Kathryn La Barre and an index by Victoria Jacobs.
This book is available from Amazon or your favorite vendor to libraries.
July 24, 2012
Like most librarians, I’ve been following the changes going on at the New York Public Library. It is one of those issues that casts a spotlight on the larger library world because of the vast importance of the institution. Charles Peterson’s essay in the amazing and fabulous journal N+1 burrows deep into the issue and he comes up with some suprising findings that have a lot to say about the corporatization of libraries and the future of reading culture. Here is a representative quote:
“More than anything, this rhetoric reveals the fundamentally anti-democratic worldview that has taken hold at the library. It is of a piece with what the new Masters of the Universe have accomplished in the public schools, where hedge funders have provided the lion’s share of the backing for privatization, and in the so-called reforms to our financial system, where technocrats meet behind closed doors to decide what will be best for the rest of us. Oligarchs acting in the people’s name (with the people’s money) is not democratic; selling off New York’s cultural patrimony to out-of-town heiresses, closing down treasured divisions and branches, pushing out expert staff, and shipping books to a warehouse in the suburbs, all without consulting the public, is not democratic. If the reconstruction goes through, scholarly research will be more, not less, concentrated in the handful of inordinately wealthy and exclusive colleges and universities. The renovation is elitism garbed in populist rhetoric, ultimately condescending to the very people the library’s board thinks they’re serving. It suggests that no one other than an Ivy League professor or student could ever hope to engage in scholarship or original research. Leave the heavy lifting to the folks at Harvard and McKinsey (and the quants in our commodities division), the financiers are saying; for the rest of you, there will be lovely sun-filled spots to check your email.”
I encourage you all to read the whole thing and let us know what you think. Part One can be found here and Part Two here