MLIS Analysis and Reflection

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My first semester as an MLIS student has been quite eventful and busy, might I add. Even though I’m only approaching my third month in the program, I have already learned a lot about the library science profession and how diverse this occupation is in terms of job selection, ethical standards, and the overall institutions that employ LIS graduates.

In my first couple posts, I briefly discussed the importance of library professionals and how they are gatekeepers of the past and are responsible for children and adults learning more about various subjects. I have always known that library professionals are important to society, but I was not aware of why librarians and libraries are so essential to communities and academic institutions.

In watching the “The Hollywood Librarian” I got a visual lesson on the history of librarians and how their role evolved from serving politicians to serving their communities by providing educational, informative, and entertaining resources. The documentary also discussed how undervalued many libraries are from a government perspective and, due to continuous budget cuts, how many public library administrators struggle to raise funds just to keep libraries open and fully functioning.

Analyzing that documentary was one of the most enlightening experiences thus far in my blog and it really opened my eyes to the evolution of libraries and how much society relies on library resources in their everyday lives. Through similar assignments in my LIS classes, I have also tackled the subject of the library’s role in a community and what role this institution has people’s lives. Blogging about the importance of libraries and LIS professionals is a topic that I definitely plan on revisiting in future posting.

Moving forward, I also plan to dig deeper into the role that archives play in information institutions. In my first few posts, I thoroughly outlined my goals as a MLIS student and what I hope to accomplish once I graduate. I am specializing in archival administration and intend on pursuing a career as an archivist. Therefore, I plan to use this platform to discuss some of the issues that archivists tackle in their profession and how archives fit into the overall function of libraries. In my post on LIS organizations, I gave an overview of the Society of American Archivists, which is one of the premier and most popular archival organizations in the country. Writing this post really helped me get a better idea of the mission and goals of SAA, and the kinds of opportunities they offer for MLIS students and professionals.

As I continue to journey through MLIS classes and compose blog posts, my hope is to get a better understanding of the program and to learn more about just why LIS professionals are so cool!

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Freedom to Read Week: Vue Weekly

Freedom to Read Week is a literary event that was established in 1982 and its purpose is to draw attention to the dangers of censorship. It has become a premier literary event celebrated during the last week of September and it is a national awareness and advocacy campaign around censorship (Frequently Challenged Books). Although libraries and other educational institutions fully support individuals’ First Amendment rights, which gives them the ability to express ideas without governmental interference, and to read and listen to the ideas of others, there have been many wars waged against controversial books and their place within these institutions.

People who don’t support certain books because of its “provocative” content have tried to remove the books from certain institutions to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information. They have also challenged the books due to inappropriate sexual content, offensive language, unsuitable to certain age groups (Smith).

Canada also has its own Freedom to Read week, which is celebrated February 22-28. They recently presented a list of the the top 30 publications that Canadians have tried to ban from public libraries and schools throughout the last few decades. One of the publications deemed “controversial” and on the list is the weekly local news and entertainment publication Vue Weekly. In 2007, the Edmonton Public Library received an oral complaint about this local news and entertainment magazine. A patron described Vue Weekly as “a very negative, even dark publication” and objected to the sex ads. The library retained copies in its collection (Carter, 2015).

The publication is indeed very liberal and contains what some may deem as offensive content from the writers. The publication covers material about the LGBT community, issues dealing with sex, indie art based events, all of which is content that is often ostracized by mainstream news outlets.

Their February 4 issue cover story, for instance, dealt with racism research and detailed some of the most racially discriminatory cities in Canada. Their covers can also be quite distinctive such as the one from their February 11 issue (see right) which features a drag queen from an indie play in Canada.

Based upon its content and graphics, it would be easy to view this publication as very controversial and unfit for library shelves. However, I do not agree with the reasoning for the publication being challenged. The patron suggested that the publication was a “very negative and dark publication” and they objected to the sex ads.” Based off my interpretation of the content, I believe the content is very enlightening, not dark and negative. It offers perspectives that are typically not publicized in other publications due to advertisers and such.

Since Vue Weekly is an independent publication, they don’t have the ethical restrictions that many publications who are funded by major corporations have. They are able to openly express their opinions about controversial issues without being reprimanded. While the library patron may have deemed their content offensive and evil, I believe the writers were simply showcasing another side of journalism. Also, the sex ads were not really taboo, especially since the content in the publication discusses sexual issues so it makes sense that there would be correlating ads in the magazine.

Edmonton Public Library did refuse the patrons request to ban the publication. However, if the library board was considering whether to ban the book, then a considerable argument for retaining it would be the second principle in the ALA Code of Ethics. The second principle states that “library professionals uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources” (American Library Association).

Vue Weekly is a publication that caters to a more liberal demographic, so restricting access to the magazine would be censoring materials that a certain audience prefers. According to J.W. Arns, public libraries are responsible for providing services intended to meet the social, educational, and recreational needs of the people residing in their service areas and their collections typically span the interests of all age groups (Arns, pg. 3283). Edmonton Library may have chosen to house the Vue Weekly publication because it showcases the type of material that Edmonton residents enjoy, so the library would not be fully providing an equal selection of resources for its residents if it chose to censor the publication.

The second statement of the Library Bill of Rights also states that “libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval” (Rubin, 2011, pg 1748).  This is another example of why retaining access of the publication is important because it represents a point of view that, although may not necessarily be accepted by all patrons, appeals to certain people. Edmunton Library made the right choice in retaining access to the publication because banning it would have completely violated ethical codes that all library professionals should adhere to.

SOURCES:

Arns, J. W. (2009). Libraries. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (pp. 3281-3286). New York: Taylor and Francis.

Carter, Franklin. 30 Challenged Book Publications. (2015). Retrieved from Freedom to Read.CA: http://www.freedomtoread.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/30-challenged-publications-full1.pdf

Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from American Library Association: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/proethics/codeofethics/codeethics

Frequently Challenged Books. (n.d.). Retrieved from American Library Association: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/proethics/codeofethics/codeethics

Rubin, R., & Froehlich, T. (2011). Ethical Aspects of Library and Information Science. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, (pp. 1743-1757). New York: Taylor and Francis.

Smith, Stephanie. Banned Books Week  [PDF document]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web Site: https://blackboard.wayne.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-4927678-dt-content-rid-1488793_2/courses/LIS_6010_1209_001/Banned%20Books%20Week.pdf

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Comparison of LIS Journals: American Archivist and Journal of Academic Librarianship

There are tons of LIS journals available for library professionals as well as people who have an interest in the field. As an MLIS student concentrating on Archival Administration, my pursuits tend to lean toward archival journals such as The American Archivist, which is a bi-yearly journal published by the Society of American Archivists organization. However, it would be very biased for me to solely focus on reading material from archival journals, and in order to develop a more well rounded perspective of the LIS profession it is necessary to learn and take an interest in other LIS  journals.

The Journal of Academic Librarianship,(JAL) for instance, is a very well respected, international publication that focuses on issues pertaining to higher-educational institutions. Throughout this post, I’ll be comparing both publications and explaining certain details that are pertinent to each journal such as their targeted audience, the types of issues they focus on, and what are their intentions for their readers.

JAL :

The Journal of Academic Librarianship, an international and refereed journal, publishes articles that focus on problems and issues germane to college and university libraries. JAL provides a forum for authors to present research findings and, where applicable, their practical applications and significance; analyze policies, practices, issues, and trends; speculate about the future of academic librarianship; present analytical bibliographic essays and philosophical treatises. JAL also provides special features in each issue which include book reviews on subjects of interest to academic librarians, information on academic library technology issues, research in international librarianship, digests of special reports, and a guide to sources and analysis of library metrics (The Journal of Academic Librarianship).

Elizabeth Blakesley, an instruction librarian at Washington State University, is the new editor of the publication. Her first editorial appeared in the January issue of the publication where she gave a brief introduction and discussed the sort of topics she plans to explore such as OERs/OATs, career and job seeking issues, communication, leadership, and liaison librarianship (Blakesley, 2015).

For authors who want to submit their work to the journal, there are a list of guidelines listed on the journal site for them to follow, which can be viewed here. The journal is peer-reviewed and I believe this is important because since academic librarianship is such a narrow field, the material needs to be reviewed by people who in the same profession.

The American Archivist

The American Archivist, which is published by the Society of American Archivists,  provides a forum for discussion of trends and issues in archival theory and practice. It presents current research and thought about developments in the archival profession, the relationships between archivists and the creators and users of archives; and the cultural, social, legal, and technological developments that affect the nature of recorded information and the need to create and maintain it (The American Archivist).

The journal is peer-reviewed research articles, case studies, in-depth perspectives, and international scene papers address a wide variety of topics, The American Archivist has the largest circulation of any English-language archives journal.

The guidelines for submitting articles to the publication can be viewed here. The editor of the journal is Gregory Hunter.

Sources

Blakesley, E. (2015). Introduction: Editorial. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 1.

(n.d.). Retrieved from The American Archivist: http://www.jstor.org.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/action/showPublication?journalCode=amerarchivist&

The Journal of Academic Librarianship. (n.d.). Retrieved from Elvevier: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/the-journal-of-academic-librarianship

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MLA and SAA: Two LIS Organizations of Interest

Becoming a member of a professional association can be an exciting experience because the association provides a space to network with other professionals in a given field and it also gives individuals more opportunities to learn more about their occupation. I have been a member of many organizations throughout the years, especially in college and those organizations have been closely related to things that I have an interest in. As a graduate student majoring in archival administration and an aspiring music historian, I plan on joining two organizations that closely fit my passions and those are the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and the Music Library Association (MLA). Both organizations provide great opportunities for seasoned Library Information professionals as well as novices in the field. They also uphold the functions that all professional associations need to have and those are: standards and guidelines for performance, codification of standards, development of codes of ethics, development of policies, advocacy for the profession, continuing education, and legislative activities (Smith, 2015).

MLA

MLA encourages and promotes the activities of music libraries, archives and documentation centers in supporting and facilitating the realization of projects in music bibliography, music documentation and music library and information science at national and international levels (“About MLA and IAML,” n.d.).  MLA is the United States branch of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres.

An interesting thing to note about MLA is that it is not just geared toward music librarians, but all information professionals who are passionate about preserving and supporting music worldwide. Some of its goals include providing leadership for the collection and preservation of music and information about music in libraries and archives, developing programs that promote continuing education and professional development in music librarianship; and collaborating with other groups in the music and technology industries, government, and librarianship, to promote our mission and values. (“Mission Statement,” n.d.).

Membership benefits of MLA are similar to most organizations and they include voting privileges in national elections, a copy of the quarterly MLA journal, access to the organization’s online membership directory and discounted registration fees for annual conferences. MLA also has a career resources section where they lists job postings and for members they provide resume and cover letter critiquing services. Students who have an interest in music archiving, librarianship, etc. can benefit from the organization’s mentoring program where they are paired veteran professionals in the library science field. Mentoring is another aspect of the organization that really impressed me and is one of the reasons why I plan to join.

The membership benefits of MLA are similar to most organization and they include voting privileges in national elections, a copy of the quarterly MLA journal, access to the organization’s online membership directory and discounted registration fees for annual conferences. MLA also has a career resources section where they lists job postings and for members they provide resume and cover letter critiquing services. Students who have an interest in music archiving, librarianship, etc. can benefit from the organization’s mentoring program where they are paired veteran professionals in the library science field.

MLA also has a quarterly journal called Notes, which has been published since 1934 and it offers its readers interesting, informative, and well-written articles in the areas of music librarianship, music bibliography and discography, the music trade, and on certain aspects of music history. (“Notes, the Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association,” n.d.).

The content in the journal is broken up into categories like book and music reviews, music theory and covers material on a variety of genres such as classical, pop, jazz, and theater.

The organizations holds an annual conference that deals with issues and new findings pertaining to music librarianship. It’s next meeting will be held February 25-28 in Denver. MLA does not have a very large social following compared to other organizations like SAA. They only have a Facebook for social media, which they update quite often.

SAA

I have been familiar with the Society of American Archivists for a long time and this was one of the first organizations that gave me a very detailed overview of the archives profession.  The SAA is an organization that all aspiring archivists should join because it provides really in-depth training tools for students entering the profession such as a Thesaurus for college and university archives, a glossary of archival and record terminology and a guide to effective research, which covers such issues as how archives function, how to identify appropriate archives for your research, and how to access historical materials and research at an archives(Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research n.d.).

Those tools really comes in handy for novices just entering the field such as myself who want to learn more about terms associated with archives and get an overall introduction to working on archives. The SAA was formed in 1936 and is the oldest and largest national archival professional organization in North America.

This mission of SAA is to promote the values and diversity of archives and archivists. SAA also enables archivists to achieve professional excellence and foster innovation to ensure the identification, preservation, and use of records of enduring value (About SAA, n.d.). There are different types of memberships a person can inquire such as a individual membership (full, student, or associate) and an institutional membership. Individual members have access to the semi-annual journal The American Archivist, the bimonthly newsletter Archival Outlook, member discounts on registration for meetings, access to their mentoring program and to the SAA membership directory, which provides networking opportunities with other SAA members.

The SAA is really dedicated to helping aspiring archivists thrive in the field so in addition to offering training tools, they also have a directory of schools throughout the U.S. that have archival education programs. I used this directory to help narrow down my choices for graduate schools that offer MLIS degrees and it was really helpful because they include a detailed description of the masters program and what types of courses they offer. The SAA also offers a multitude of scholarships, awards, and fellowships for students and professionals in the field.

The organization’s publication is the American Archivist, which is considered one of the most comprehensive archival journals in the field. The journal is published twice a year and was established in 1938. I reviewed the Fall/Winter 2011 issue and it contained journal articles about open-access publishing, digital records management and digital forensics, and the changing archival landscape.

The SAA has a very large social media presence and update their pages regularly. They have over 7,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter, and they also have a LinkedIn page as well.

Based on the information provided about the MLA and the SAA, one can see that they provide many avenues of opportunity for both information professionals and those seeking to become information professionals. I definitely plan on joining both organizations and look forward to being involved in the services they provide for members.

Sources:

About MLA and IAML. Retrieved from http://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/?page=iaml

About SAA. Retrieved from http://www2.archivists.org/about

Mission Statement. Retrieved from http://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/?page=MissionStatement

Notes, the Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association, Retrieved from http://www.musiclibraryassoc.org/?page=Notes

Smith, Stephanie. Professionals and Professionalism. [PDF Document]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes online https://blackboard.wayne.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-4926536-dt-content-rid-5389785_2/courses/LIS_6010_1501_001.002_COMB/Professionalism%281%29.pdf

Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research. Retrieved from http://www2.archivists.org/usingarchives

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Analyzing The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians through Film

Filmmaker Ann Seidl’s documentary The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians Through Film gives a detailed look into the lives of library professionals and the issues that they face in trying to maintain the well-being of libraries as well as the patrons they serve. The overall history of how libraries were established and how they have evolved throughout the last 100 plus years was also was shown via interviews with librarians and through films clips featuring actors portraying librarians, which is where the “hollywood” part of the film comes from.

Informative, entertaining, and melancholy is how I would personally describe my reactions to the film. This film really gave a vivid look at the significant role that libraries and librarians have always played in society, and in particular the lives of children and adults. The film showcased how during ancient times the librarians were the tutors to the heads of states and served as advisers to politicians.

As the library evolved from its original missions of specifically serving religious leaders, scholars and wealthy patrons to focusing on serving the common person, this institution continued to function as a place where education was the primary concern (Rubin, 2008, pg. 7). While it is obvious to note that  librarians also play an important role in communities, I was not aware of just how important their contributions are to the people they serve until viewing this film. What librarian Eugenie Prime said in the film really stood out to me and put their role into perspective. “We like to think of the library and disassociate librarians from the library, and it’s the librarians who make the library what it is… Librarians are keepers of the flame, whether its the flame of freedom of democracy” (Seidl, 2009).

The tasks and responsibilities of librarians go way beyond cataloging physical and digital records and serving customers. Not only do they serve the public, but they play a major role in helping to keep libraries available in various communities. Seidl used the Sanilas Public Library branches in California as an example of how the lack of government funding for libraries could impact an entire community. Residents and even San Quentin inmates put on fundraisers to help keep the library doors open because they understood how important the library is to the community and to a child’s future. I found it really painstaking that the government provided more funding for prisons than it did for libraries. However, it was also encouraging to see how the community banded together to help the very institution that they utilized and how they did whatever they could to help keep it from completely closing.

This example shows how deeply connected power structures are to the well-being of libraries. In “What Libraries Are Worth?” Eleanor Jo Rodger explains how libraries fall under the umbrella of host systems such as corporations, institutions and political structures and how they rely on these systems to fully function.

“These larger host systems created the libraries, and they sustain them. Libraries rise and fall as their host systems rise and fall. We can be very good within the host systems, but we can almost never rise above their levels of success and excellence, regardless of our sense of value. Every library employee should know three crucial things about the library’s host system: its missions,its structure, and its history” (Rodger, 2007, pg. 59).

Libraries provide a lot for communities, but what many people, including myself tend to forget is the fact that libraries are businesses and they have to pay for the services they provide to patrons, which is mainly free of charge. I originally just thought of that the role of librarians was to serve the public and provide educational, entertaining and informative information and activities. Yet, the librarians interviewed in the documentary emphasized the business factor of libraries and how maintaining the business aspect of the institution, i.e. fundraising, is a crucial part of of their job.

Another aspect of the film that I found surprising was that children were not always allowed in libraries. A majority of the documentary dealt with how adolescents cling to libraries for knowledge and to engage in educational activities, but to think there was a time when libraries were only intended for teenagers and adults was mind-boggling. Kids are the main benefactors of libraries and their usage of this institution can have a major impact of their academic and professional future. It is really good to know that people like Andrew Carnegie realized how important libraries are to everyone, not just adults.

For library patrons who tend to overlook the significance of libraries and the employees that work there, this documentary will definitely change their outlook and make them want to do more to contribute to the very institution that they love.

                                                                                                                                                                      

Sources

Rodger, E. (2007). What’s a Library Worth? American Libraries, 38(8), 58-60. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27771303

(Rubin, R. (2008). Stepping Back and Looking Forward: Reflections on the foundations of libraries and librarianship. In Portable MLIS. Libraries Unlimited.)

Seidl, A., Erickson, L., & Harris, A. (2009).The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians Through Film [Motion picture]. Media Education foundation.

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Future goals as an MLIS graduate

One of my goals has always been to pursue a master’s degree in a discipline which I have a personal curiosity in. Having worked in the professional world for a few years, I am now pursuing a master’s degree in Library Science with a focus on archival administration. Archivists, in my opinion, have one of most important responsibilities ever, and that is to establish and maintain control, both physical and intellectual, over records of enduring value. (So You Want to Be an Archivist: An Overview of the Archives Profession. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www2.archivists.org/profession)

This field will allow me the opportunity to research music from a more historical perspective while helping to uncover and preserve rare objects within music’s past. I minored in Music History in college and am interested in researching music on a professional level and collecting more information about the subject that may be of use to researchers.

My ultimate goal is to work as an archivist at a museum or an educational institution that specializes in music collections like the National Jazz Museum in Harlem or The Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago. I am an avid jazz fan, and knowing that I could possibly help preserve historical items such as Louis Armstrong’s trumpet or drum sticks by drummer Max Roach is very fascinating. I also want to educate young people about how much of a role music plays in society. Through working at an educational facility such as a museum, I want to create programs for kids that will allow them to learn more about music history at a young age. I didn’t even take a music history class until I was in college, so I want kids to be able to be educated about this history at an early age so that will hopefully increase their appreciation for good music when they are older.

In order to fully pursue my future career as an archivist, I plan to obtain a certificate in Archival Administration from Wayne State. This certificate will allow me to compete for specific archival positions in any industry.

The information agency has definitely evolved throughout the years and many institutions are transitioning to digital formats and utilizing online avenues more in order to engage patrons. The role of information professionals has also changed, and archivists, for instance, are delving more into digitization when it comes to preserving projects. In order to equip myself with the sufficient skills needed to navigate in the field, I also intend to specialize in digital content management. Specializing in digital content management will allow me the opportunity to learn more about creating digital collections for various institutions such as schools, museums and libraries.

I have already begun the process of engaging myself in archival projects. As a member of the Detroit Sound Conservancy, which is a local organization dedicated to preserving Detroit music, I’ve been able to particularly dig up historical facts about a historical ballroom in Detroit and a museum that was connected to the venue. I spoke with an archivist who used to work for the museum and my research aided in the recovery of the museum’s collection. I co-wrote a paper about the Graystone Museum, which I presented at the DSC Sound Conference last year. I also joined the WSU student chapter of the Society of American Archivists and plan to become heavily involved with the organization so I can learn as much as I can from professionals in the field of archival administration.

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Personal Introduction: Working my way through MLIS

The title of this blog “My Journey Through MLIS” may seem pretty self-explanatory or even simple, but deciding to pursue a career in the library profession definitely took a lot of thought and consideration. From the time I was 10 up until around the age of 21, my main goal was to become a print journalist and to work for The Detroit Free Press or New York Times. I completely immersed myself in the field of journalism and took on multiple editorial positions in high school and college. 

My ambitions of becoming an archivist and obtaining a masters degree in the field of library science developed later on when I was nearing the end of my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. I took a job as a student circulation assistant and some of my responsibilities included checking out books for patrons, and helping students, faculty and staff find library materials. I also worked with the school archivist.

At the time, I didn’t know much about the field of archival administration, only that archivists were responsible for preserving historical items. In working with the school archivist, I learned more about the technical aspects of the field and the important role archivists play in keeping history alive and allowing the world to learn about the roots of a particular subject.

After graduating college, however, I still had every intention to follow my original goal of becoming a journalist and working in the Communications field, which I am currently doing. However, the archival itch I developed in college never seemed to stop. After working for two years in the professional world, and seriously contemplating the idea of pursuing a career as an archivist, I decided to return to school.

This is just a bit of background about my professional career transition, and there will be much more information to come as I learn more about LIS and explore various topics in my blog. Some of the topics I’ll be discussing include an overview of some LIS professional organizations that I plan on joining such as the Society of American Archivists. I’ll also be analyzing various LIS positions and will be discussing some professional journals that pertain to the LIS field.

My intent for this blog is to enhance my understanding of Library and Information Science and to gain more insight regarding the perceptions I have about the field. Although the LIS profession has been around for a long time, many people still have no idea what this subject area is about and how broad it is in terms of the career paths one can take when they have an MLIS degree. Many times when I tell people that I will be getting my degree in Library Science, they automatically assume that I want to become a librarian.

I also believe that the LIS profession will become a more sought after field since it has such a strong connection to technology. With everyone and everything moving more into the digital realm, there is more of a need for professionals to work with technology and have an understanding of how technology influences everyday life. I also believe that LIS professionals, particularly librarians and archivists are jobs that will always been needed and there will never be a replacement for their importance to society. Even as technology creeps into various job settings and it seems there is less of a need for human knowledge, librarians and archivists are gatekeepers of the past and are responsible for children and adults learning more about every subject possible.

 

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