Friday, June 30, 2006

Mini-list of articles on plagiarism

This can be seen as part of the eternal struggle against plagiarism in academia. In reality, it is just a set of articles on my to read list that I want to read at some point, but I lack the time at the moment. I may add to this list over time since this is a topic of interest, even if reluctant interest. In other words, I have to think about it, be aware of it, and be able to deal with it, but as a former composition teacher, I can tell you it is not always something pleasant. These I acquired when I was doing some research to prepare a plagiarism guide for our students.
  • Kloda, Lorie, and Karen Nicholson. "Plagiarism Detection Software and Academic Integrity: The Canadian Perspective." Proceedings Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference April 4-6, 2005 (found via the Resource Shelf blog. However, the link seems dead. Can get to the actual paper here.)
  • Lampert, Lynn D. "Integrating Discipline-Based Anti-Plagiarism Instruction Into the Information Literacy Curriculum." Reference Services Review 32.4 (2004): 347-355. (found via Emerald)
  • Liles, Jeffrey A., and Michael E. Rozalski. "It's A Matter of Style: A Style Manual Workshop for Preventing Plagiarism." College and Undergraduate Libraries 11.2 (2004): 91-101. (Requested via ILL)
Update note (7/11/2006): Michael Lorenzen, of The Information Literacy Land of Confusion, wrote an essay on a librarian's view of plagiarism that includes a bibliography.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Immersion 06: Jigsaw Reading

Citation for the reading:

McDonald, Joseph. "Information Literacy or Literate Information?" Paper presented at Symposium for Academic Librarians 2004, Eastern Michigan University. April 30, 2004.

This is one of my readings in preparation for Immersion. I may post on the other ones, mostly to keep a record for myself. In addition, putting things here means that if the bosses ask if I am doing my homework, I can point and say, "yes, I am."

When I initially read this, I will say that I was not a happy camper. I already wrote the summary I am turning in for the jigsaw presentation, where in essence we have to present one article out of a list of five to other members of a small group. This is the one I got, and as I read it, I kept making notes on the margin asking questions and at times disagreeing with the author. What I am posting here is not what I am presenting, but in a way, I need to get this out of my system and pose, for myself, the various questions the article raised for me. Since we only get 25 minutes, and there are four other group members, that barely leaves five minutes per person. Thus my need to expand someplace else. If some of the other legionaires make it here, fine and dandy, but if not, the world will not end.

Professor McDonald basically comes from a perspective of information literacy that sees information literacy as something unnecessary and redundant. To him, what information literacy supposedly does is already being done by what he labels "excellent teachers." McDonald mostly draws on the work of Ken Bain, author of What the Best College Teachers Do, and given that he draws upon the book so extensively, I may as well go read the actual book. Actually, it turns out my library has it, and it is only 200 or so pages, so I am going to check it out. I may thus add to this later or just make other notes if and when I read the book.

McDonald opens with a provocative and challenging question: "Does college-level education require information literacy and its ally, resource-based learning, or is information literacy the end result of all college learning experiences, which are accomplished in such a way that the expression literate information best describes what students take with them at the end of their undergraduate experience?" He comes in favor of the second part of the question, though I did not find a precise and specific definition of "literate information," at least nothing comparable to the concept of information literacy as defined by ACRL. You have to draw out what literate information is from the reading, and while I have an idea, I am not sure I can phrase in a way better than how it is implied in the question above, as a literacy shaped by context and critical thinking resulting from the various classroom experiences.

A significant portion of the article is dedicated to presenting Bain's arguments. Bain's book is the result of a longitudinal study of teachers considered to be excellent. Bain's evidence is based on two tests. One, the degree of student satisfaction with the teaching and if they were inspired to continue learning. Two, asking what did the students learn within and outside the disciplinary coursework. For the first criterion, I am skeptical about using student satisfaction, which seems to be something fairly subjective. In addition, some of the literature regarding student course evaluations, reflecting the debate of their use for teacher evaluation and, in academia at least for tenure decisions, leads me to question this as well. McDonald conveniently states that a "review of the evidence and the methodology used in the study is beyond the scope of the paper." It sounds like I will have to read the book after all. McDonald does assure us that the study is "a high-order longitudinal investigation into educational praxis and for the purposes of this paper, and in my view is an acceptable research based description of teaching excellence." I was never someone to just take someone's word, especially when they simply say, "yes, this is an important and high level study, but we are not looking at its evidence." It may be just me who wonders about this.

McDonald also questions the idea of requiring students to use specific resources. The key here is that students have too many choices, and it may be preferable to have narrow choices carefully selected by the teacher. It's another form of the gated garden argument that I have seen in discussions of tools like classroom management systems where professors put certain readings on reserve and expect students to only use those readings. McDonald seems to fall within this camp. Drawing on the work of Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, McDonald writes that "a well-designed and written textbook is a carefully selected value added mini-library that, in fact, exposes students to a wide range of information, ideas and concepts." And yet, we often see professors requiring their students to go outside the textbook, to do research, to engage what they find in their textbook. I see that when I meet with professors that come to the library for instruction. Are these professors less than excellent teachers if they provide their students with choices? By the way, we also have Schwartz's book, and I think I am checking out it out too. Am I over-reading for Immersion then if I explore those things? However, I am curious now, and as a teacher librarian, I take that as a good sign. I can always read them afterwards.

The purpose of the paper, according to McDonald is: "to raise some questions, in the context of a symposium of Michigan academic librarians, that could lead to a thorough review and examination of an increasingly ubiquitous library-based set of pedagogical practices, which, in my view, collide with those already in place by good teachers." While this sounds nice, and the paper does raise questions, my problem is an apparent dark undertone in the essay conveying that librarians are not, or possibly, cannot be good teachers. This tone is present throughout most of the essay and seems to be reinforced by various statements I will try to note. He also states the following, which I find pretty idealistic, and I mean that in a good way: "more importantly, in my view, undergraduate learning can be helped significantly by recasting academic librarianship as part of a formal college-wide effort to support and encourage learning skills such as writing." I cannot really disagree with that; I think an academic library and its librarians should provide campus-wide support. I would go so far as to say that, in some classes at least, an embedded librarian model may work. If we take this for a given, then I don't think academic librarianship is in danger of extinction as McDonald seems to hint in a subtle way. It is interesting to note that he also states, "it is beyond the purposes of this paper to discuss the survival of academic librarianship." Again, he drops another line of inquiry after stirring the hornet's nest.

McDonald's essay is based on three propositions, which I noted on the outline I will provide for the presentation. These are:
  • "Highly effective teachers, by their practices and the expectations they have of students create information, i.e., knowledge literate students and lifelong learners."
  • "Information literacy as a second curriculum is too vague and too empty to be a significant set of learning experiences in higher education. It also duplicates what good teachers already do." This is an idea I may be willing to entertain, at least the part about the curriculum. As for the duplication bit, I think that is open to debate.
  • "The term generic information literacy is a misnomer. The so-called generic information literacy skills can only be developed in context with something, and that something is the discipline or knowledge area and its intellectual processes, including reading and writing." We already talk about this in current information literacy practices. A common statement for an academic librarian is the need for any instruction provided to be connected to a specific class assignment or task. McDonald is not saying anything revolutionary here, though he makes it sound like librarians have no idea about this.
McDonald goes on to summarize and discuss traits of effective teachers and the expectations they have of students.
  • ""Effective teachers are about the business of creating conditions in which students realize their potential to learn. Effective teaching is not primarily transmitting knowledge nor is it teaching as telling. It is not just a matter of technique. It is struggling with the meaning of learning within the various disciplines and how best to cultivate and recognize it."
A good teacher basically facilitates; he or she opens the door for the students to walk through, if they choose to do so. If you inspired them well, they will walk through. At least, that is my hope. McDonald goes on to mention that excellent teachers do attack the stereotype of students as not able to learn. In general, I agree with that, but when some theorist throws that type of statement out, I always have the need to throw a caveat. While the stereotype should be attacked, the reality is there are some students who can't, or more often than not won't, learn. Resistance to learning can be a significant issue regardless of how inspiring the teacher can be. What I learned is that you aim to reach all of your students, but there will often be the one or two you just won't reach, and that is not a reflection of the teacher. That is more often than not a reflection of the student's reality that very well has nothing to do with the teacher. Does this mean one gives up on that student? No, but it does mean a teacher is aware of this.

McDonald cites Bain again in stating that "people can change, and those changes--not just the accumulation of information--represent true learning." I just thought that was a neat line. In fact, the article does contain a good share of cool lines. It is very true, and when teachers are there to see the moment when a change takes place, it is a special moment. In terms of teacher expectations, McDonald asks two questions: "what are the reasoning abilities students will need to answer the questions the discipline raises?" and "How can teachers cultivate the habits of mind that will lead to constant use of intellectual skills?" I need to check, but I think I have recently read something on the concept of getting students to think in terms of their discipline, to ask the questions that would go with their discipline. It may have been a conversation I had with a professor, but I think it is an article. It's moments like this that I get a bit annoyed at myself, knowing I read something, but not being able to recall it right away. Since I need to move on, it will have to wait.

Another point I questioned:
  • "Excellent teachers choose discussion questions and select common readings very carefully. Their reading assignments are sequenced to allow students to build analytical skills. Instead of simply listing reading assignments, they ask questions and present assignments as ways for students to answer those questions. And, very importantly, the best teachers teach their students how to read the materials they assign."
I have nothing to disagree with that, but I ask the proverbial "so what" question. What is the implication here: that librarians can't do this or provide the support for it? And much of the essay has me asking that same question over and over. And talking about questions, I think that is something I would like to explore for my assignment. Yes, we have to turn in a lesson plan. I think I have the content, but what I am really interested in is working on socratic questioning technique. I glanced at some article discussing how to apply good questioning to teaching the research process, and I want to do something like that. I will admit I worry this may be a bit rudimentary, and yet, it could be a pretty powerful tool for teaching.

I recommend that readers interested in the article look over the other teaching principles that McDonald presents, mostly drawing on Bain's work. I suppose if you are not reading the book, the article makes a good summary of Bain's key ideas. McDonald goes on to discuss other authors and their work on information literacy models, which by the way seem to all share the trait of having seven components. The snark in me wonders if there is some significance to the number 7 for things like these, after all, it worked for Stephen Covey. One of the models discussed is Christine Bruce's work Seven Faces of Information Literacy (apparently she also has a more recent Power Point presentation on the topic here). The point for McDonald is that the three models he presents can be understood in various ways and that they overlap.

One idea I found intriguing and worth investigating is the concept of hyperliteracy as proposed by Cushla Kapitzke. This comes in where McDonald starts getting very theoretical about modernism and post-structuralism. The bottom line is that the students, along with the teacher, add a critical element to their information literacy and to the pedagogy. This has a ring of Freire in there someplace, but at the moment, I can't quite place it. Maybe I need to look over that Freire book I read a while back again. He cites some questions from another expert, Kapitzke, to illustrate the critical practice. One sample question that bothered me a bit was this one: "what alternative expositions might have eventuated if resources from a more eclectic knowledge space were accessed?" So, are we saying the library is not an eclectic space? What other place can bring some many diverse resources in one place, and even make many of those accessible outside of the library?

There were a couple of other things I wanted to ponder, but I find that I am spending a bit too much time thinking about this article. I think what made me think is that it questioned my competency as a teacher librarian, as if a librarian was not good enough to take part of the educational enterprise. Given that I am in a setting where some members of the faculty, who shall remain nameless, think of librarians as less than competent, I don't think I needed McDonald to come along and basically say that we don't need to carry out our work any longer because those excellent teachers, whoever they are, are already doing it and doing it better. While I know that not all librarians are called, or have the inclination, to teach, the fact is that many librarians that do teach, whether as formal instruction librarians, or just the occasional class, more often than not can give some of those classroom teachers a run for their money. So, at the end of the day, why is this article important? I think because it forces us to ask questions. It makes us look at ourselves lest we take what we do for granted. It gives us other ideas to consider, even if the tone is not the most favorable to librarians, and more ideas is fine by me. Questioning them with a critical eye is part of the process as well.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Vargas Llosa speaks about his craft

"It's not the story--it's the way in which the story is presented." --Mario Vargas Llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa recently sat down with Tom McCarthy to discuss his craft in an interview for The Daily Star (Lebanon). The report opens with a discussion of the novel The Feast of the Goat, which is about Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. I actually read that book a while back. On the one hand, I found it a bit on the long side. On the other hand, I just kept at it because there was a story there, a story that Vargas Llosa weaves out of history and fiction. Vargas Llosa is upfront in saying that "probably the details that are in my book are not exactly the details that were in Trujillo's life. But he had this problem with his bladder, as many old people have. . . Not everything that happens in my book happened during the Trujillo regime, but it all could have happened." And that is why I stuck with the book and overall enjoyed it.

Vargas Llosa at the time of the article is visiting Beirut as part of a speaking engagement, which is sponsored by the Cervantes Institute (link leads to page in Spanish). The Peruvian writer says that each story is different, that it depends on what you need to tell. He talks about the influence of William Faulkner in his work. Personally, I dislike Faulkner, but I have read enough of Faulkner's work to have a sense of what Vargas Llosa means. In the end, I think these writers bring to life something universal yet so unique. Vargas Llosa describes a little of Faulkner's work The Hamlet to make his point. He then says, "It's not the story. It's the way in which the story's presented, the way in which he [Faulkner] creates a context that can transform this stupid thing into something very tragic in which the human condition is expressed." Now that is some powerful stuff.

Further on, the writer describes how fiction can be a catalyst for rebellion and action. He then comments on his more recent novel, The Way to Paradise (2003), ending on a hopeful note that nations can, if they do things right, become modern and democratic. The brief interview is worth reading to get a glimpse of this great writer's mind and craft. Which reminds me, I need to read that new book.

A hat tip to the Literary Saloon.

Quick Booknotes on Graphic Novels, Part Deux

This is another post of a few comic compilations and graphic novels I have recently read. So, in no particular order:

Kelly, Joe. JLA: The Obsidian Age: Book One. New York: DC Comics, 2003. ISBN: 1-56389-991-4.

This is an interesting item, and the art was pretty good as well. Aquaman dies, but somehow, the heroes sense not all is what it seems. It turns he is not dead but rather stranded in the past. When forces arrive in the present day, they find themselves transported back to Atlantis. Meantime, a new team of the Justice League is formed in the present day to deal with events of the present time as the first team is stranded back in time. First in a series, and I think I will be looking for the rest.

Lee, Stan and Jack Kirby. Essential Fantastic Four, Vol. 1. New York: Marvel Comics, 2005. ISBN: 0-7851-1828-4.

This is a compilation of the earliest Fantastic Four adventures. It is interesting to read in a few ways. For one, Invisible Girl, Susan Storm, is not able to do the things with force fields that she does in later incarnations. In fact, very often she is a damsel in distress, or she has to use her invisibility in more "sneaky" ways. It is clear that the way women are viewed has changed over time as the character has likely become stronger. In addition, these comics were written during the Cold War, so the anxiety about the Russians and the race to space is alive and well. On the other hand, it is a comic that displays a family just like any other. They have their happy moments and their little squabbles. The plots are pretty simple: some supervillain threatens the world, and the Fantastic Four come to the rescue. However, they often must rely on wits and genius rather than just their powers to solve the problem. If you want to see where it all started, this is it. I liked it, but it was not great. However, I will still seek out the other ones. This compilation is in the same series as the Essential Punisher volume I recently reviewed. Like that other volume, it is printed in newspaper stock and in black and white. However, you get about 20 comics in one volume, some of them hard to find, making it a good value.

Miller, Frank and Lynn Varley. Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again. New York: DC Comics, 2002. ISBN: 1-56389-844-6.

This is the sequel to Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which I read and noted here. Like its predecessor, this was simply an awesome reading experience. It is set three years after the events in the last volume. Batman returns from his exile to fight forces of crime and corruption. He is not alone, but there are also some superheroes who will oppose him. Batman this time faces a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top of the federal government in a world where Lex Luthor is the President of the United States, and Superman is his chief enforcer. You have to read this just to see how that happened. Like the last one, it is a great work visually as well as in terms of the story line. Readers will also appreciate the commentary, some of it not too subtle, about current events. I highly recommend this one. It is definitely one to add to my collection.

The last two are part of a series by the same author:

Puckett, Kelley and Chris Dixon. Batgirl: Fists of Fury. New York: DC Comics, 2004. ISBN: 1-4012-0203-5 and Batgirl: Death Wish. New York: DC Comics, 2002. ISBN:1-5638-99817

These are part of a series with a new Batgirl. Barbara Gordon, the commissioner's daughter who first wore the cape and cowl is wounded and paralyzed. She is forced to leave her activities as Batgirl behind, but she uses her skills as a librarian and knowledge to become Oracle, an information scientist that other heroes turn to. Cassandra Cain, daughter of an assassin and martial artist, becomes the new Batgirl. In Fists of Fury, she confronts the Joker as she tries to save a boy from making a mistake and ending up in a life of crime like his father. In Death Wish, she must confront Lady Shiva, the woman that trained her. If you like your heroes dark, with good action and plot, this is a good series to follow. The series also features great characterization.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Thinking a little about gaming and information literacies

Right now, this is just something I have thought about on and off. Michael Lorenzen, of the blog Information Literacy Land of Confusion, had this post on "Gaming Literacy and Information Literacy" back in May. He discusses in brief how gamers acquire new skills or knowledge in a game on the basis of need at the moment. In other words, you learn it because you will be needing it down the road to level up or beat the boss at a stage. Mr. Lorenzen writes,

"This can be understood in information literacy. These same gamers are often college students. They take the lesson from the game world and apply it to life. They will only seek information in a library when it is required of them and then only right when the information is needed. Any wonder we see students at the Reference Desk the same day the assignment is due?"

Like him, I am not quite sure how to teach information literacy concepts applying these principles yet, but I do believe that it can be done, and we probably should be exploiting it. Right now, just another thing for me to think about and explore. If I had some investigation time during my little excursion back to basics, this would probably make a good research topic.

Some reading suggestions for soccer fans

With the FIFA World Cup in full swing, some readers may be interested in books about soccer (better known as futbol to our Spanish-speaking friends, and football to the rest of the world). Booklist, in its March 15, 2006 issue, had the "Read-Alikes" column feature a list of books to go along with Jim Haner's Soccerhead: An Accidental Journey into the Heart of the American Game (ISBN: 0-86547-694-2). Some of the books on the list include:
  • Franklin Foer's How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization (ISBN: 0-06-073142-7).
  • Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch (ISBN: 1-57322-688-2).
  • Joe McGinniss's The Miracle of Castel di Sangro (ISBN: 0-7679-0599-7).
Readers can seek out the Booklist article for the rest of the list. In addition, the World Hum blog provides a review of the titles listed above, which may be of interest as well as they look at great books about soccer.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Article Note: On library instruction and at-risk students

Citation for the article:

McDermott, Dona. "Library Instruction for High-Risk Freshmen: Evaluating an Enrichment Program." Reference Services Review 33.4 (2005): 418-437.

I read the article via Emerald.

After reading this article, I found myself wondering if that was it. I did not feel it told me anything terribly new. It felt more like another of those LIS "how we did it" articles that seem to be a genre in library science academic articles. In this case, the article looks at how an enrichment program for at-risk students at a particular library works. There is a look at the library literature on the topic of library instruction and at-risk students. This is an area in the library literature that needs further investigation given the lack of good literature; the author was able to identify 11 articles related to this.

The article outlines how the program for a creadit-bearing study skills course with a library component was established. The class was under the English department, and the librarians would teach between one and three library-related sessions. Not surprisingly, when it came time to evaluate the course, the professors and librarians had discrepancies in their responses.

The author provides a list of recommendations based on the evaluations, which do make for good suggestions. However, some of those recommendations are common sense such as the need to have the research assignment connected to the library research segment. I think any instruction librarian with some experience could have known that. I guess the article's findings provide some validation to our experiences.

What I did find useful were the survey questions and the instruments in the appendix. I can use those to help me devise some survey and instruments in my setting. And yet, other than this, I felt that I could have skimmed, or even skipped the article, which is something I rarely say for an article related to library instruction.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Booknote: Spiegelman's Maus, Parts I and II

Title: Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Part I: My Father Bleeds History; Maus: Survivor's Tale (1986), Part II: And Here My Troubles Began (1991)
Author: Art Spiegelman
Publication Information: New York: Pantheon Books
ISBN: Part I (0-394-54155-3), Part II (0-394-55655-0)
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, Memoir
Subgenre: Graphic Novels and Comics, Holocaust Literature

I have been wanting to read these for a while, so I finally borrowed them from my library and took the time to read them. The novels depict the story of Spiegelman's father, who was a Jew in Poland sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. The author draws the characters as animals with the nazis as cats and the Jews as mice. The work won a Pulitzer Award, and they are very well regarded overall. Spiegelman creates the story by weaving his father's memories with the present day when he is interviewing his father. The result is a moving narrative created by a son who has some difficulties with his father yet regards him highly. It is not just about the ones who were sent to the camps but also about their families and the aftermath. The drawings are in ink.

I found the work extremely engaging. I was slowly reading the first volume, but as the pace picked up, I found myself picking up the second volume and staying up late to read it. It does have some very sad and gruesome moments, yet Spiegelman manages to make the work very accessible to readers. The visual element of the graphic novel brings the memoir to life and makes the characters more humane. I think that is the word I am aiming for. It can be an intense reading. I cannot recommend this set of novels highly enough. I think anyone doing work or reading in Holocaust Studies has to read this work as part of any readings list. For readers of the graphic novel genre, this is a must not only for the topic but because it is considered part of the canon (if there is such a thing for graphic novels). This is definitely one of the best reading experiences I have had so far this year.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Article Note: On Citation Analysis for Composition Studies

Citation for the article:

Coffey, Daniel P. "A Discipline's Composition: A Citation Analysis of Composition Studies." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 32.2 (March 2006): 155-165.

Read the article via ScienceDirect.

Given that freshman composition classes are the library's major client when it comes to instruction, it made sense to see what new insights I could gain about composition teachers. I will say that I taught composition briefly at the college level, and I was also a high school composition teacher. Additionally, I studied composition and rhetoric during my previous life as a graduate student in English. I will admit it was not the most enjoyable part of that life. If you want to know, ask me privately sometime, but I will leave that out of here. But I am always looking for new insights. Now, the article is focused more on composition studies scholarship, meaning not so much on the trench operators and more on the theorists of composition. As an additional note, the list of works sampled for the study, which is provided in an appendix, makes a useful resource for possible collection development.

Coffey states that "the purpose of the study is to provide insight into the research and publishing characteristics of composition scholars" (155). The article definitely provides a good start in that area; it also provides at the end a series of suggestions for further research, some of which do sound intriguing. Coffey suggests as well that this knowledge is significant for librarians because it can help them to better provide resources for composition scholars. In addition, it can help enhance their knowledge of information literacy instruction.

As a note to myself, the article cites another article by James K. Elmborg, who also wrote the article on critical information literacy that I recently read. The context for Coffey is that he cites Elmborg's work as an example of an article calling for librarians to collaborate more with composition studies people. I may have to take a look at that article.

Coffey's article provides a good historical overview of the composition studies field. This is helpful for any librarian who has recently acquired comp. & rhet. liaison duties but who may have little background on the subject. Coffey then goes on to explain his methodology and results. If this is an area of interest, librarians should take a look at this article.

Some notes from the article's discussion:
  • "As noted earlier, composition studies scholars have a tendency to use journals as citable resources to a significantly higher degree than their colleagues in other humanities disciplines, particularly, and most importantly, literary studies" (161).
  • "Part of what makes composition scholars unique is that their research is not completely encapsulated within the disciplinary realm of the humanities. The nature of much of what they study and write falls into the area of education, if not sociology: the dynamics of the social structures in which students develop their writing abilities" (162).

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Article Note: On Modern Japanese Drama in English, a Bibliography

Citation for the article:

Wetmore Jr., Kevin J. "Modern Japanese Drama in English." Asian Theatre Journal 23.1 (Spring 2006): 179-205.

Read the article via Project Muse.

Since one of my subject areas as the Arts and Humanities Librarian at my workplace is drama, I wanted to make a note of this article, mostly that it is available. After a brief historical overview of modern Japanese theater and its translatations, the author provides a pretty extensive bibliography of works. The bibliography includes:
  • a list of plays listed by playwright in alphabetical order.
  • a list of plays in anthologies.
  • a list of plays in single volumes.
  • an appendix that features fusion works.
  • a second appendix listing general and major works of criticism and historical scholarship in English on the subject.
According to the author, "this taxonomy is intended for both classroom and research use, as an aid to finding texts to use in the classroom and to help researchers of Asian theatre locate texts and plays" (183-184). While we have a miniscule drama program here (a minor), this may be the type of topic one may expect to find in the special topics classes (they currently list one such offering, a higher level special topics). At any rate, I also have a small interest in drama from my previous life, so I wanted to make a note of this, just in case.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Article Note: On Critical Information Literacy

Citation for the article:

Elmborg, James. "Critical Information Literacy: Implications for Instructional Practice." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 32.2 (March 2006): 192-199.

Read in print, via the workplace routing.

This article opens by pointing out how the term "information literacy," which is a significant concept for libraries, remains a problematic term. The concept is constantly discussed in conferences and articles. The author further points to other writers that indicate an increased demand for information literacy services. This means that more librarians will be called upon to have a more active educational role. Elmborg writes, "this shift, driven by demand, implies an evolution in what librarians do, and moving from service provider to active educator challenges librarians and library educators to develop new guiding philosophies" (192). The author argues that academic librarianship needs to be defined in terms of teaching, learning, and literacy scholarship. The idea is to move information literacy as libraries seem to define it, in terms of skills, towards a critical pedagogy.

I find this to be quite challenging for librarianship. Coming from a background in teaching, I like these ideas. However, knowing the profession of librarianship, I can see where this would be met with resistance. One of the core values of professional librarianship is a sense of neutrality. We provide the information our patrons want without any other questions or impediments on our part. Yet critical pedagogy, as I understand it and as Elmborg briefly explains, is political by nature . If educators are shaping the citizens of tomorrow, there has to be some political engagement, yet "politics" seems such a dirty word. At the end of the day, what we do as educators is teach the students to think critically, to question. Maybe we should be asking more questions like these:
"What is the role of the library in a Freireian vision of critical literacy? Is the library a passive information bank where students and faculty make knowledge deposits and withdrawals, or is it a place where students actively engage existing knowledge and shape it to their own current and future uses? And what is the librarian's role as an educator in the process?" (193).

Elmborg goes further to argue that the critical pedagogy perspective is largely absent in the literature of infomation literacy.

Elmborg summarizes the basic research models usually used in information literacy as follows:
"These process models work by standardizing the complexities of research in 'stages,' which generally include: defining a topic or question, narrowing the topic and identifying sources, synthesizing the sources, and finally presenting the results. With minor disclaimers, the process is presented as linear, from task initiation to completed project" (194).

And yet, the process is anything but linear. Students will take detours, try out certain inquiries only to abandon them, and in general, they adapt. They also multitask. The elements mentioned in the quote are there, but they are not really done in a linear fashion. The irony, for me at least, is that I often teach about research as having divergent elements. I tell them that at times something in the research may catch their eye. They may choose to follow it only to find it may not be the best answer at first. That is part of the research process, and part of what I do is reassure them that some degree of nonlinear research is acceptable, natural even. I wonder what the model makers might say about that.

As I read the article, I made a marginal note to consult again an article I read a while back on unskilled researchers. I am not quite sure why I made that note to reread that article, but I hope mentioning it now will spark something later.

There are so many ideas in this article that I agree with. I find myself nodding a good bit as I read. I try to do so much, and yet, there is so much more to be done. I guess if I want to look at it positively, it may mean a degree of job security for me.

Some other notes, or things I want to think about further:
  • "Rather than define these students [the ones that fail] as 'deficient,' we might ask whether schools and curriculums themselves are a large part of the problem, especially when they become conservative protectors of traditional, authoritative knowledge and cease to respect students as people capable of agency and meaning-making in their own right. Indeed, one of the primary challenges for contemporary education is to find ways to make it possible for all students to succeed, not just those socially preselected for academic success" (194).
  • In the context of multiple literacies and communities. "In saying this, we have arrived at an important point that bears emphasis--while there are multiple literacies in any given culture, all literacies are not equal" (195).
  • "If literacy is the ability to read, interpret, and produce texts valued in a community, then academic information literacy is the ability to read, interpret, and produce information valued in academia--a skill that must be developed by all students during their college education" (196).
  • "Librarianship as a profession should develop strategies for helping students master these styles and patterns of thinking" (196).
As I am trying to make my notes, I can't help but think about how this seems so important although it seems lost on the wayside. I read a good share of the information literacy literature, and I have to agree, this type of discussion is pretty much missing. Plus, I wouldn't count on the library sector of the blogosphere to hear about it either. Except for one, maybe two or three bloggers at the most, most are caught up in the L2 glitz wagon. Yet, in academia at least, these are issues and questions to ask, discuss, and explore. Would providing answers and thus helping students make sense of their world be any less a form of good library service? These are things that form part of my teaching philosophy. They are the questions that help shape my practice as an Instruction Librarian. Anyhow, a few more ideas from the article:
  • "As Ray notes, instructional librarianship requires extensive knowledge of pedagogies and of the cultures and discourse communities of higher education" (198).
  • "Librarians need to develop a critical consciousness about libraries, by learning to 'problematize' the library. Education for librarians must become what Freire calls 'a problem posing education'" (198).
Now, I know I did not hear any of that in recent discussions about LIS education I have heard. This essay as a whole goes well with some of my previous thoughts on Revolting Librarians Redux. I am also thinking a bit more about this as I prepare to go back to basics later in the summer. I am definitely adding this article back to my files, and I highly recommend it for academic librarians, especially those in public services.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Booknote: Marvel Secret Wars

Title: Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars
Author: Jim Shooter
Publication Information: New York: Marvel, 2005
ISBN: 0-7851-1873-X
Genre: Fiction
Subgenre: Comics, adventure, science fiction

This is a compilation of the series Secret Wars that Marvel launched in 1984 for 12 issues. At the time, the crossover series was designed to complement a new toy marketing campaign. The toys were not successful, but the series proved to be one of the most popular for Marvel. This edition collects the 12 issues in color. The plot is fairly basic. The Beyonder, an entity of great power, brings together a group of superheroes and villains to fight in a planet known as Battleworld. I will admit that I have vague memories of this series; I was a teen when it came out, but I was not a big comics reader then. However, I found myself enjoying this series. It is good superhero fun; that's the best way I can describe it. It is a self-contained story, so readers don't need to have read other comics to enjoy. Fans will likely enjoy it as well. It turns out that the series spawned two sequels, but as far as I know, these have not been reprinted. The edition I have read is the trade paperback edition. It is priced new at about $30.00, which I thought was kind of steep, but it does seem consistent with similar volumes. I got my copy second hand, so got a break. I do think this would make a good addition to public libraries with graphic novel and comics collections. A good series for readers like me who enjoy these classic works as well as for new readers wanting a glimpse at the roots of heroes they know today. Even without these reasons, it makes for good entertainment.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Booknote: The Successful Academic Librarian

Title: The Successful Academic Librarian: Winning Strategies from Library Leaders
Editor: Gwen Meyer Gregory
Publication Information: Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2005
231 pages, including an annotated bibliography and an index
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Career guidance, librarianship, library science

If you read one book on academic librarianship, make sure it is this one. Meyer Gregory has put together a collection of writings on academic librarianship that any library school student considering the academic track should read. If there is a class on academic librarianship, this should be the textbook. However, this book is not only for the future academic librarian. It has a lot to say to those who are starting out in the field as well as those who have been in it for a while or are considering a move in that direction.

The book is divided into three parts. Part one looks at the basics. Here we find advice on job issues, the activities of an academic librarian, and faculty status. Part two looks at how to get and keep the job with tips on job interviews and mentors. Part three features some narratives from experienced librarians. On that part, I found Chapter 13, written by Molly E. Molloy, to be the most useful to me.

The tone of the book is simple and straightforward. It addresses well the issues that academic librarians face if they are on a tenure track, things that I have pondered about before and that I think library schools are not telling their students. So, since library school won't always tell you how to cope with the "publish or perish" approach, get the facts here. The book also has chapters on libraries and unions and even a chapter looking at Canadian libraries. I can see the editor did a good job at being comprehensive. It is kind of like "here is everything you need to know if you choose this to be your career path in librarianship." The book's various charts and tables are also helpful for quick reminders and ideas. I am not one to buy many LIS books, but I would definitely get a copy of this for myself at some point. In a way, the book makes me glad I am not on a tenure clock. It is a dog-eat-dog world in that realm; I know, I used to aspire to that and got exposed to it in my previous life. However, the book can provide reassurance to those who may be a bit anxious about the process; it can be achieved, but it does require good planning and discipline to do it. Overall, I highly recommend the book for anyone who is considering a career as an academic librarian as well as for those just starting out.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Presentation Notes: Teleconference on "Confronting the Crisis in LIS Education"

It is a slow Friday at work today, so I am watching the teleconference sponsored by ALA and provided via the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and College of DuPage (Find the program factsheet here). The topic is on "Confronting the Crisis in LIS Education." It seemed somewhat interesting, until at the top of the hour, they launched into what pretty much boils down a commercial. It is pretty much the tone of one of those public television moments where they pat their backs and ask for support. However, there are some good thoughts in this, even though, overall, the teleconference was not exactly something I have not heard before in other venues. So, some ideas from the presentation then:

  • LIS programs do not provide specialization. This is usually acquired informally via workshops, lectures, etc, or via on-the-job training.
  • In terms of the job market, employers often place obstacles in their requirements for experience. When possible, the workplaces need to make entry-level positions more available and embrace the energy of recent graduates.
  • On the other side, LIS faculty need more awareness of what is currently happening in the field.
  • A professional should have professional attributes and a theoretical knowledge. The staff the library hires will set the tone for the library and its environment. The organization hires for the vision of the future.
  • Essentials of development include the organization's core philosophy. The organization must be committed; it must plan, and it must assess the progress.
  • Reasons for training and development. One, to fill in gaps. Another to define the values and philosophy of the organization. Training and development can also provide for morale and for intellectual stimulation of the staff.
  • Some training and development does not require money. Something as simple as having group discussions of provocative articles for instance. However, whatever the training and development form, there will always be a time commitment.
  • The observation that journals mostly represented by practitioners. (Actually, the representation is from practitioners on the tenure track who have to publish. What we need it seems is to be able to write and publish in other fields, and it should actually count as part of what is accounted for at tenure time. This did not seem really addressed by the panelists).
On the issue of teachers in LIS programs, I can't help but wonder why is a PhD is required to teach. I personally think librarians should be taught by practitioners. Maybe for theoretical research, sure, go for your doctorate, but to train new librarians, I don't really see the necessity. I think some of the best courses I had were provided by practitioners. Maybe it should be more of a teacher-researcher model. Something to think about. Overall, I don't think anything new or ground breaking was said. If nothing else, not a bad way to spend a slow Friday morning.

Article Note: On Instructional Improvement for Librarians

Citation for the article:

Walter, Scott. "Instructional Improvement: Building Capacity for the Professional Development of Librarians as Teachers." Reference and User Services Quarterly 45.3 (Spring 2006): 213-218.

Read in print, via workplace routing.

Walters's column provides a discussion of instructional improvement programs in libraries. This is basically looking at how to help librarians become better teachers. The article opens with the observation that "instructional improvement" usually refers to development activities for faculty. Librarians are rarely included in these types of activities, which are often centered at campus teaching centers. Walters also writes,

"Although many academic librarians collaborate formally and informally with campus teaching centers to provide information literacy instruction, there is no evidence to suggest that any major studies of instructional improvement practice have included librarians in their role as college teachers. In short, many teaching centers recognize that librarians have something to offer to campuswide instructional improvement programs, but fewer appear to recognize how much librarians might benefit from participation, as teachers, in such programs" (214, emphasis in original).

He looks at the topic of instructional improvement as it relates to higher education. The article reveals that there is some support for librarians, but there could be more. What has happened for librarians, and I think this is out of necessity, is that they have gone to create their own networks and programs from things like ALA to in-house activities.

Some other things I noticed from the article:
  • "On-the-job teacher training is common among instruction librarians, as it is among members of the classroom faculty" (215).
  • "Another important feature of any instructional improvement program is the provision of regular opportunities for teachers to actually talk about their teaching with colleagues. Brookfield wrote that '[silence] surrounds us as teachers,' and providing a forum in which teachers can discuss their work is one of the best ways to foster a culture of teaching within an organization" (215).
Maybe the silence is part of the reason why I blog. Teaching at times can be a very lonely activity, at least the preparation and planning stages. Of course in the case of this blog, I think some of it is more like sending a message out in a bottle, one never knows who will read it, if anyone. Then again, if the blogging facilitates my learning about my teaching, it has done its job.

Finally, Walters points out why we should worry about instructional improvement,

"Why worry about instructional improvement? Quite simply because, even after thirty years of discussion and debate, teacher training is still a relatively minor part of the professional education for librarians even as it becomes an increasingly important part of their daily work. Making a commitment to instructional improvement is ultimately the responsibility of every teaching librarian, but helping to foster an environment conducive to making that commitment is one of the responsibilities of an instructional leader" (216).

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Article Note: On Interactive Readers' Advisory

Citation for the article:

Hollands, Neil. "Improving the Model for Interactive Readers' Advisory Service." Reference and User Services Quarterly 45.3 (Spring 2006): 205-212.

Read in print, via workplace routing.

In essence, this article proposes an alternative to face to face readers' advisory. It does not advocate eliminating the traditional model, but it suggests the proposed method, using forms, can be superior in many ways. For librarians who are RA practitioners, this is an article worth reading.

The author highlights the Looking for a Good Book program at the Williamsburg (VA) Regional Library, which provides the model for the author's discussion. The author does a good job or reviewing the common assumptions of traditional RA, and he then discusses how to implement the form-based RA.

The first assumption is that "readers will approach librarians with RA questions" (206). Personally, I don't think I would approach librarians at my local branch for RA. For one, I am pretty confident that I can find something good to read. However, I think the bigger issue is approachability. The librarians at the small reference desk don't seem very approachable for this purpose. Sure, any reference question, and I would be there. For RA, I am not so sure. It may be a "vibe" thing, or it may be I have never seen anyone approach that reference desk with RA assistance in mind.

The second assumption is that "the person approached with an RA question will be the right person for the job" (206). I think this is a good a good question to ask. I consider myself fairly well-read and informed about reading trends, but there are still genres that I am nowhere near an expert. This is just basic nature. I am like most librarians according to Hollands, that is, "talented generalists with areas of strength to which their attention gravitates" (206). I do know how to use the tools if need be, but a reader would want someone knowledgeable on the spot. I can see the author's point on this. We do need to keep the illusion. This comes from the fifth assumption: "resources needed by readers' advisors are easy to use in face-to-face discussion" (207). The illusion idea goes to credibility as readers have the impression we have read anything and everything.

The author also discusses briefly the traits a successful RA practitioner should have. I like the list, so I would like to note it here:
  • "Willingness to put aside personal bias and suggest books that fit readers."
  • "Knowledge of the style of many authors and interest in acquainting oneself with more."
  • "Understanding of the differences between genres."
  • "Familiarity with the print and digital tools available for researching books and authors."
  • "Skill in writing annotations that reflect the appeal factors of a book."
  • "Good communication skills and a desire to talk about books" (208).
I will admit that putting aside the personal biases may not be easy. It is very tempting to use our position to steer patrons into "better" reading. However, we are there to provide books that fit their reader needs and desires. Yet, I don't think we can be totally devoid of bias, or at least beliefs. Biases and beliefs are a part of who we are. I don't think we should totally forsake them, but we should not let them interfere with the work at hand.

The amount of RA that I do at work is minimal, but I strive to know about various authors and genres either by reading the works or using the tools to read about them. Online resources make this easier. You can learn about any genere via various well-made websites. Add to this resources like Genreflecting, and I can't see a reason for a librarian not to have at least a passing acquaintance with genres outside of their interest range. As for writing annotations, I think that is why I make notes on books I read in my blogs, a way to remind myself what I have read as well as get a sense of what the book was about in case someone asks. It is a skill that should improve with practice. In my case, I don't aim for a full review, just enough to have that sense of the book.

On sharing personal reading preferences, which the author also discusses, I cannot emphasize this enough. It is also something I wish my colleagues would do more. I happen to know one of my colleagues reads a good amount of YA literature as well as graphic novels, a genre I love as well. Otherwise, I am fairly clueless about the rest of my coworkers, and not necessarily for lack of prodding.

Here is another piece of advice I thought to be important:
  • "For each reader [referring to the responses from the advisor], try to mix well-known, well-publicized authors and books with some that are less familiar. Provide some responses that are right down the middle of the reader's interests, and some that encourage small stretches into new territory. This range of books should try to satisfy most of the readers likely tendencies and moods as shown by the form. Make sure all of the books you list are in your library's holdings" (211).
Moving to a different idea, I had an interesting thought when I read the author on archiving previous RA forms for documentation. My question was "what about privacy?" Do we really want a repository of what people are reading available in such a ready way? This was not addressed in the article, and yet, given the current climate, I have to wonder.


For another discussion of this article, see Rick Roche's post in his blog ricklibrarian. He raises additional questions about the service and possible implementation in a small setting.

On a serendipity note, our Web Librarian walks in as I am typing this note asking if we have a good answer to the question of "I need a history book [American] to read and review for my class." We get this every so often, and it is a variant of doing RA since you have to suggest something they may be remotely interested in reading and fits the scope of the class. There is no silver bullet to this one; it boils down to trying to find them something even when they answer your questions with "I am not interested in anything," which was the reply he got at the time. If nothing else, this assignment, and others like it, keep us on our toes.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Presentation Notes: On Subject Librarians and Their Blogs

I am trying out the "Presentation Notes" label for the title to see if I can better organize these types of posts, ones based on a specific presentation, as opposed to a conference, book, or article. It's mostly for me to be able to find things later if I search them.

The nice thing about presentations that are preserved on the Web is that you can go and watch them later at your leisure. The HigherEdBlogCon took place back in April 2006, but it was a somewhat busy time for me, so I was not able to attend virtually at the moment. However, the site has the presentations available, and I have a little bit of time to look at some things right before the first summer session starts. I had the site's feed on my Bloglines, so when they announced something of interest to me, I clipped it as a reminder for later. I am now going through some of those clips. If you already attended the Con, you may want to skip the post then. Now, there is some debate about the value of conferences going on and about the importance of socializing at such events. The social part I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, I believe in the value of meeting like-minded colleagues to discuss issues of common interest over an adult beverage On the other hand, I really don't give a **** about drunken debaucheries in a professional setting. I will leave it to the pundits and A-listers of the biblioblogosphere to hash it out. Find some examples of that discussion here and here. Just take this as the notes of one of the folks who cannot afford to do the jet set and barely has the time to do something synchronously. Asynchronous works for me, but it may not work for other readers, so I leave it to them to decide.

Anyways, back to this. Last week, I had a chance to watch Ms. Kristin Johnson's presentation on "Subject Librarian 2.0." I learned a few things, and I found myself thinking about my own library and some possibilities. I also forwarded the link to one of my colleagues. Maybe something will come out of that as well. So, here go some notes and thoughts:
  • Things a subject librarian can do with a blog: describe new resources, announce upcoming events, explain trends, and detail services, and some other things.
  • The prompt for the presenter was to find a good method of communicating with her faculty. It needed to be a method that caught their eye enough to get their attention, but it could not be too annoying, or they would stop paying attention. Blogs could meet this need.
  • A blog can help reach more faculty, especially the adjuncts. She was also prompted by the fact that she only did one newsletter in six years or so. The newsletter was well received, but it was time consuming, and it was "paper intensive."
We put out a library newsletter every semester. It does take some time to produce, so we aim for useful information and some pleasure items. Obviously nothing too time sensitive goes in it. My library recently embraced blogs. I don't think we'll give up the newsletter just yet, but we probably won't increase its frequency since we can use the blogs, or we should be using the blogs. Our current problem is that posting to the library blogs is erratic. On a bright note, our Engineering Tech Librarian seems to be doing well with her subject blog. However, overall, our blogs need more promotion. More importantly, they need content, and they need for that content to be provided by more than "the usual suspects." In my ideal world, all my colleagues would be posting to the blogs we have now, maybe some of them would create one for their subject areas. In the real world, if they are not posting themselves, be it for lack of time, motivation, comfort with the technology, blogs just don't work for their objectives, etc., they could be pointing out ideas now and then for those that do post.
  • The presenter posts to her blogs once a week.
I think this could work for us, if the library as a whole could muster some commitment (I am so going to get into hot water for saying this).
  • The presenter posts on things such as: new books, highlights of reference books, updates on Wikipedia and Google, pleasure reading posts, and what she calls "semi-rambling posts that I try to fit into information literacy. . . ."
I think part of why the library's blogs seem to languish here is their formal tone. I just don't see anyone post a "semi-rambling post" anytime soon. I don't think I could do it, on the library's blogs that is. My few readers likely know I can ramble fully now and then in my own blogs. I have certain parameters I set for myself when it comes to blogging (part of those parameters are here). I also have a sense of what topics to address on my blogs. In terms of the big picture, I am pretty informal and relaxed. I just don't get that vibe on the official library blogs. I am not saying the lack of vibe is intentional. In fact, my boss would likely disagree or wonder if I am pulling this out of left field, to use a polite term. Let's just say the not-so-polite term rhymes with "grass" and leave it at that. Nevertheless, the formality made it in there somehow. What I know is that I could take some of Ms. Johnson's ideas and use them for outreach in my subject areas. A question for me is: do I use what my library offers, or do I go the maverick route? Each option has advantages or disadvantages. For now, I just want to think it over a bit.

Some preliminary thoughts include the need to have a consistent template. In this sense, activating a blog(s) on the service our library uses would address this nicely. On the other hand, if I create something, I can likely make it something nice and not be tied by having to conform to "the campus look." The "campus look" actually is one of the things that hinder our website, but as it is something we have no control over, no sense in talking about it. Another thought is that our blogs (the subject ones) lack links to useful subject-related links. By this, I mean websites related to the disciplines or to library-specific resources. Now, this can be easily corrected. I don't maintain any of our subject blogs, but I can certainly find ideas and forward them. As for my areas, making the blogs myself would allow me to select links.

On a side note, I don't have many links on my personal blogs. For one, I have avoided having a blogroll to avoid giving a sense of favorites. As for LIS links, it may be something to think about. I think part of it for me also is my guess that a lot of people (ok, the few people) who read my blogs may be doing so in an aggregator anyhow, which means they don't actually visit the blogs' sites, so there's less of a motivation. I just have a couple of things that are personal, such as my L-School and MPOW, and some buttons. As I said, maybe it is time to rethink that.
  • The presenter announced her blogs via e-mail after the summer at the beginning of a fall term.
I am thinking that here's a possible idea for my setting if I move swiftly. An announcement on e-mail would feature how to access the blog, the purpose of the blog, and asking readers for input via comments and suggestions. This comes from her suggestions.
  • Later, the presenter surveyed her faculty using a survey tool created on SurveyMonkey. She asked about use of the blog, effectiveness of the blog, and reader preferences. The questions were brief.
I would definitely want to do this after I created any new subject blogs. In fact, I am thinking we should probably do something like this for the blogs we have now. We've had them for close to eight months. It may be time to see what we can learn.
  • From the presentation, I gathered that Ms. Johnson e-mails an announcement to her faculty when there is a new post to her blogs.
I wonder if this would work for us. On my end, I just would like to know if any of our faculty is reading our blogs, and if they do, do they go to the site or use an aggregator.
  • Subject blogs should be practical and focused. They need good marketing. One may need to allay some faculty fears or resistance if they see blogs as "diaries." I found it interesting that she entitled her blogs "news pages."
This presentation certainly gave me some ideas to work on. I think I have more questions now, and it looks like I have some planning and exploration to do.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Last couple of things out of Revolting Librarians Redux

This is just to note a couple more things that I was pondering as I read the book. Just think of it as some extra notes.

From Piers Denton's essay "I Was A Teenage Anarcho-Terrorist."
  • "Whilst libraries remain free at the point of access, they will be part of the arsenal of liberation, and it remains my pleasure to be at my reference desk handing out books" (71).
This sounds to me a bit like this:

Reading that reminded me of that old propaganda poster. It does seem appropriate. Anyhow, Denton also wrote:
  • "From urban guerrilla [referring to his experience] to public librarian may seem a large leap, but if knowledge is power and access to that power brings freedom, then libraries too are revolutionary, and librarians can be counted amongst the workers political vanguard" (71).
That reminded me of Paulo Freire's work. And for the record, I have read Mao's Little Red Book, which Denton refers to. Now that I said that, I wonder how long before the NSA pays my blog a visit. If you need to know what I read, a Google search with the blog name and the term "booknote" will likely give you my posts on books read. Also, my blogs have a running list of items I am currently reading on the side columns. Not that it's any of the government's business, but I am willing to let them see some of my ammunition.

Chris Dodge's essay on alternative publications, "Libraries to the People, Redux," is worth reading too, especially for people "not in the know." How can you not be "in the know" if you are a librarian is beyond me, but I will let that slide. Dodge refers to Sandy Berman, the legendary cataloguer, and to Berman's famous line, "I can't have information I know would be of interest to someone and not share it" (qtd. in 130). The part defining revolting librarians and the one responding to "what makes librarianship exciting to you?" are also worth a look. In fact, I photocopied the essay, and I may someday reply to the question myself, so stay tuned.