Banned Books Week: A Discussion on Intellectual Freedom for Kids

28/09/2011 § 9 Comments

Can of Worms. 'No Matter' Project Photo Stream on Flickr.

In honor of Banned and Challenged Books Week, Britt and Rebecca want to discuss the assumptions, implications, and consequences of challenging and banning books in public and school libraries, particularly for youth.  We think that library school is the best time to explore these topics so you can develop intellectual and ethical positions before you start your career; even as they shift and change in practice, having a theoretical foundation and a chance to exchange ideas with peers is a way to build your own position.  Please add your voice to the discussion!
Rebecca: Off the bat, I am totally pro-intellectual freedom, even for youth.  I think it’s necessary to expose children to all sorts of ideas and to encourage them to critically reflect on their reading to help them become better learners and citizens.  Similarly, it is the job of the parent to determine what is or isn’t appropriate for an individual child, and not the job of a library or school.  When a school removes a book, they aren’t just saying the book is inappropriate for some, or even most, children; they’re saying the book is inappropriate for all children.  That doesn’t seem right.

Britt: Of course, public and school librarians operate in different spheres of responsibility for a child’s access.  Many teacher librarians may act in loco parentis (in place of a parent) depending on their state or district; public librarians have no such mandate.  It is the common practice of public librarians (and the suggestion of ALA), particularly when processing a challenge, to place the responsibility for access on the parent, which relieves the librarian of that role.  This leaves us free to collect for a broader audience, but also, I feel, limits our ability to be advocates for intellectual freedom for youth.  Should youth librarians take a more active role when promoting access for children?  Should we advocate for the right of the child over that of the parent?

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Hack Library School: Fall 2011 Kickoff!

24/08/2011 § 4 Comments

Back to School. New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

I don’t know about you, but for me New Year’s is just one more night of food and fun in the season.  The real new year starts in the fall, when classes begin.

If you’re starting or continuing your library school journey this autumn, you’ve had many years to perfect the rituals of the new school year.  Be it ensuring you have the perfect pens and Post-it notes, setting up your study nook, researching professors, or mapping out your plan to keep it totally paperless this semester, welcome to the Fall semester!  Here at Hack Library School, we’re excited for the coming months. « Read the rest of this entry »

Hack Your Program: UCLA Department of Information Studies

27/05/2011 § 11 Comments

Like the other Hackers, this post reflects my perspective, and mine alone, on the UCLA Department of Information Studies, as experienced in my two years as an MLIS student.  I am enrolled in the Library Studies track, with a focus on public libraries and a specialization in youth services; I will be graduating in 16 days (but who’s counting?) and my time in this program, and the experiences I have gained because of the connections I have made, have definitely prepared me to be a librarian.

The Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.  Photo Credit: Graduate School of Education and Information Studies Website.

Program Overview 

The Department of Information Studies is one of two departments in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSEIS).  The program offers an MLIS degree, Master of Arts in Moving Image Archive Studies (MIAS), a PhD, and a Post Master’s Certificate.  The MLIS is divided into three tracks: Library Studies, Archival Studies, and Informatics.  These three specializations don’t have any specific course requirements, other than Archives, which requires the American Archives and Manuscripts “as a foundation course for the specialization,” but rather reflect your course choices.  Dual Master’s degrees are also available with the Anderson School of Management, Latin American Studies, and Asian American Studies.  A fourth specialization in Preservation will most likely be added in Fall 2011.

Info Bit: The California Rare Book School is a continuing education project of the IS Department, and offers fascinating courses (open to all) such as History of the Children’s Book from the Old Babylonian to 1989  (new this year!) and Descriptive Bibliography.

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Advocacy in Library School

23/03/2011 § 12 Comments

Art by Andrea Davis

Dictionary.com defines advocacy as “the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending; active espousal.”  I know I heard and used this term before I began library school but I honestly think my awareness of it has increased tenfold in the last two years of my program.

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Big Tent Library School

14/02/2011 § 29 Comments

 

Supporting the Big Tent. Joseph Warren, Photographer. Sourced from NYPL Digital Gallery.

In December, Library Journal posted an article by Andy Woodworth, of Agnostic, Maybe, on “big tent librarianship” in their “Back Talk” column.  Big tent librarianship is an idea guided by the belief that librarians, regardless of their chosen information specialization or information institution, like academic librarianship or public librarianship, are all connected by the same principles, and can enact positive change by uniting around these principles. The original article, titled “We Need Big Tent Librarianship,” is an inspiring and thought-provoking read, and to officially kick off Hack Library School, a collaboration committed to and an example of big tent librarianship, I’d like to draw on Mr. Woodworth’s ideas and relate them to library school.

When we enter library school, the divisions begin immediately.  Are you a future archivist?  A public librarian?  A public YA librarian?  While we might all begin in the same “Introduction to Information” class, confused and scared as a professor explains exactly how an antelope can be a document, our specialization quickly siphons us off into “Preservation,” “Metadata,” “Storytelling,” and “Archival Methods.” It can be hard to remember, behind our stacks of PDFs, that after “Intro to Info,” we came together and were excited, too, because what we heard resonated with something we believed– we just didn’t have the words for it yet.

And that’s what library school is.  It brings together people who have a belief in the power of information, and gives us the tools and the ideas to do something concrete with that belief.  How we choose to do it may look very different in the end, but that passion for information is a thread that unites us.

The “big tent” mentality must begin in library school.  We must begin by challenging ourselves to reach out to those in our department, and to students at other library schools.  The web has allowed for the conventional barriers of interaction to fall away, and given us the tools to somewhat define our own education.  Yes, we may all have to take this class or present that paper to graduate, but interacting with fellow library school students will inform and expand our motivations and knowledge,  give us new tools for advocacy, and a broader platform to advocate from, constructively criticize our own education, and offer successful solutions to other students looking for change in their own programs.

So how to do it?  Read library student blogs and comment.  Ask a fellow student about the paper they’re working on.  Follow conference hashtags on Twitter, especially those outside your own specialty.  Be aware of the achievements of your peers, not only at your own schools, but across the nation, and tell other people about it in person, on your blog.  It may be difficult.  We’re all so focused on being hireable, and in being as competent in our own fields as possible, these are big things to commit to.  Andy Woodworth points to James Rettig’s “library ecosystem,” in which all types of libraries depend on one another.  We can extend this ecosystem analogy to all the information institutions, and especially to our fellow library school students.

We are the future protectors and promoters of information access, preservation, and literacy, and so we must protect and promote one another.

Library school is the perfect place to begin to explore the possibilities that a shared passion brings.  Once we graduate and move on with our careers, most of us won’t be interacting with people in information professions other than our own unless we’re proactive about it.  Library school mixes us all together and exposes us to the challenges and strengths of other information professions and gives us the perfect opening to start a relationship with potential collaborators and future colleagues.

What could these partnerships look like?  What could they achieve?  In a society where information has become such a commodity, how could our collaborations ensure not only the existence of our professions and our institutions, but a flourishing?  Quoting Hack Library School’s own “About” page, “What will the information professions be next year if we define it for ourselves today?”

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