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Posts Tagged ‘information’

In our Community Relations & Advocacy class, George posed an interesting question: “Is there a way to capture…instances where a library or librarian has made a real difference and corral that into evidence of value that would compel others to use and support the library?”

I have a couple thoughts on ways that libraries can make a real difference, some evidence that may encourage support of the library as a valuable information source.  First, libraries partner with local nonprofits and social service agencies to support the desemination of information about their services.  For instance, I have seen where Tulsa libraries provide information about domestic violence intervention services information in their public restrooms.  The idea behind this is that while victims of abuse are kept under surveillance by their abusers and are thus unable to request information about how to escape abuse, the restroom is a place where victims may have a moment of privacy.  There they can pick up a “DV restroom card” with info on how to get help and slip it in their purse or pocket without their abuser knowing.  The fact that libraries are making an effort to provide information, safely and privately, to a population that desperately needs it—I think the victims that are able to escape because of that information would say the library made a real difference in their lives.  This isn’t a small population either—statistics indicate that 1 in 3 women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

I think the people who learn to read through library literacy programs would say that the library made a real difference in their lives.  I think the people who get free tax assistance at the public library, and the people who find employment after using library resume writing and job searching resources would say the same thing.

What we need is a way to stay in contact with the people who have been helped so they can help us advocate for the value of the library.  Many nonprofits have speakers’ panels, people who volunteer to speak to groups of people about the value of the service they received at Domestic Violence Intervention Services, or at The Salvation Army Homeless Shelter, etc.  They speak to church groups, rotary groups, the elks, the moose, kiwanis clubs, school kids, to educate them about issues like dating violence, homelessness, hunger, child abuse, and how these groups can help.  Maybe libraries need speakers’ panels to talk about literacy, intellectual freedom and how to get help with finding the information they need?

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Here is a digital collection for EveryMan: a place of preservation and dissemination of the images, stories and humor of rural farm life in Ohio.

The digitial divide still exists, but the point of crossing over–where analog culture first embraces the digital–is a facinating place.

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Whew!  This semester has been like being tied by the ankle to a runaway llama so far…  Which is why I’m so woefully behind on updating this blog.  So here’s an essay I wrote about my aspirations for the profession:

My long-term career goal is to serve as a public librarian, specifically in the areas of reference, readers’ services and children’s librarianship.  As the field of library and information services continues to expand at an exponential rate, it is clear that serving as a librarian means being a perpetual student.  Through my career, I aspire to be knowledgable of the unique and changing needs of child library users and to sythesize theories of child and adolescent learning as I develop library services for this population.  I will strive to stay informed about current practices, trends, and standards in the field by reading journals, attending professional meetings and conferences, and discussing current issues with colleagues.  Following listservs and the blogs of colleagues will also assist to expand my awareness of new developments in the field.  My duty as a public librarian is to be aware of new resources available in all formats so that I can quickly guide customers to the information and resources most likely to meet their needs.

Librarians are called to serve not only as stewards, but also as advocates.  I intend to advocate for customers’ right to read and access materials and to provide for diverse information needs through ethical collection development.  It is vitally important to foster a welcoming and comfortable library environment by ensuring that collection organization and arrangement facilitates access for all potential customers, including those with special needs.  I will make every effort to connect children with the resources they need by encouraging browsing and questions, and enabling them to use the library effectively.  Perhaps one of the best ways to engage children in the library is to consider the children’s opinions and requests in the development and evaluation of library services.  I will promote library resources by providing bibliographies, book talks, displays, electronic documents, and other tools.  I will promote children’s services through storytelling, book discussions, puppet shows and a variety of other programming.  By networking with other local agencies, I will provide outreach to underserved populations to promote literacy and reduce the digital divide.

I have some experience working in library settings as well as experience with research and records management through my work as grants coordinator for The Salvation Army.  My grant experience taught me how to locate funding opportunities for varied services and manage multiple deadlines.  Working as a shelver and circulation clerk for the Tulsa City-County Library between 1998 and 2003 allowed me to become familiar with the library OPAC and the Dewey Decimal System of organizing resources.  The majority of my time was spent ordering and shelving returned library resources, checking library resources in and out for customers, creating and updating customer records, issuing library cards, processing fines for late items, and placing hold requests for customers.  Yet these activities taught me the importance of customer service in every role in order to cultivate a welcoming and accessible library environment.

Libraries are forums for information and ideas provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people.  It is the mission of the library to challenge censorship and provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues.  Libraries should promote free expression and free access to ideas in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.  I feel strongly protective of our first amendment rights and the freedom to share information.  In my opinion, education and the stewardship of information are among the noblest of professions.  Through my career as a public librarian, I will endeavor to perpetuate knowledge and education by promoting the accessibility of information for all people and encouraging and assisting others in their information quests.

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This represents my first post for my Digital Collections class, discussing examples of interesting digital collections.  All posts for this class will be categorized under the term “digital collections.”

ibiblio is a “collection of collections,” including art, history, literature, music, science, software, and cultural studies.  Some collections within ibiblio are in non-English languages, such as Spanish and French.  The variety of resource subjects and media is admirable; the diversity of resources makes it feel like a full library, rather than just a special collection on a limited topic.  ibiblio allows individuals and nonprofit organizations to contribute relevant collections in order to expand ibiblio resources.  By welcoming collaboration from various agencies, ibiblio has the capacity to grow and diversify so much more than it could otherwise.  I was interested to find a collection called CyberSufis, categorized under religion and theology.  Unfortunately it’s currently under construction and inaccessible, but I’ll have to revisit it.  I’ve barely scratched the surface of Rumi’s writings, but I love what I’ve read so far.

Project Gutenberg is another of ibiblio’s collections.  Founded by Michael Hart, Project Gutenberg is the oldest and largest “single collection of free electronic books.”  Besides text in multiple languages, Project Gutenberg also offers audio books, CDs, DVDs, and digitized sheet music.  My brother, a digital aficionado, actually introduced me to Project Gutenberg in the late ’90s–since then it’s grown exponentially.  It’s amazing to me that this digital collection is a 501(c)3 run almost entirely by volunteers.  To have lasted almost 40 years on only the support of grants and donations is truly impressive.  I wonder if I will ever create a digital collection that could be active and relevant for even half that time?

Being fond of Latin and the classics, I can’t help but appreciate the Internet Classics Archive, which provides 441 works of classic literature by 59 authors, including Augustus, Julius Caesar, Livy, Ovid, Aesop and Aristotle.  Texts are offered in English translation, but this archive also partners with the Perseus Digital Library to offer texts in Latin, at least those originally written in Latin.  Moreover, each Latin word is hyperlinked to provide the translation and part of speech in English.  I found this resource a couple years ago while searching for the Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam. 

The Internet Classics Archive notes that in the fall of 2000, its website suffered disk failure and backup errors, but the majority of texts were recovered with the assistance of Google and the MIT Media Lab.  Unfortunately some applications of the Archive still do not work after 8 years.  Some of the links to texts in Peseus also seem to be defunct.  I wonder if this collection has been abandoned?  In any case, it is listed in the OEDb article “250+ Killer Digital Libraries and Archives,” dated 2007.  Hopefully it will be restored to full operation someday. 

I guess the Internet Classics Archive illustrates what happens when a digital collection is neglected.  Digital collections require upkeep as much as physical libraries, to combat bit-rot and to grow the collection.  If a site displays outdated announcements, users may assume that its contents are irrelevant and look for another resource.  We need to make the place look hospitable if we want people to come in.

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Okay, I’ve neglected this thing for too long.

In class two weeks ago, we talked about Tulsa’s information infrastructures: the arrival of railroads, churches, radio, television, the Internet, etc.  I’m always drawn to things outside the mainstream, and I started thinking about alternative information infrastructures, information subcultures, the information underground.  Those information infrastructures that aren’t major to the majority, but are significant to some populations.

A couple back-alley information infrastructures occured to me, “hobo symbols” for one.  Individuals who rode the rails and settled temporarily in tent cities across the country used these symbols to leave messages for other wayfarers.  Many of them weren’t literate, or wanted to leave messages that even the uneducated could understand, and so they left pictographs scratched on rocks, fence posts, barns, what-have-you, to help others passing through.  One picture scratched on a fence post might tell other travelers that a scary dog lives in this yard, so watch out.  Another symbol might indicate a nice lady lives in this house who will provide food.  This information infrastructure might be very old and rather crude, but it was significant and widely recognized by the drifters of the time.  I wonder if today’s homeless populations still use those symbols?

Another more current information infrastructure, developed in the last 30 years, I think, is similarly low-tech, but nonetheless effective.  When I worked for Domestic Violence Intervention Services, I learned about the “bathroom cards.”  Women living in abusive relationships are often kept on a short leash by their abusers, not allowed to go anywhere unsupervised in public.  Abuse is about power and control, and this is just one way abusers seek to control their victims.  Somewhere along the way, some advocates developed the idea of the bathroom card.  The ladies’ restroom is one place where men cannot go, where a female victims can temporarily escape the watchful eyes of male abusers.  Advocates leave bathroom cards in ladies’ restrooms as a way to reach women in need.  The cards contain phone numbers to call for help, strategies for escape, and a list of things a woman should bring with her when fleeing an abusive relationship, like identification, birth certificate, social security card, change of clothes, toothbrush, etc.  A woman can slip the card in her purse or pocket, where hopefully her abuser won’t find it.  These cards are very effective for conveying information to those who are cut off.

Granted, this only works for heterosexual couples, and unfortunately, abuse exists in all kinds of relationships.  I’m not sure what methods are available for subtly reaching gay victims.

These are just a couple information infrastructures that lie off the beaten path.  Others include graffiti, gang symbols and colors, and display of name brands to communicate status.  It’s an interesting topic of study.

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