January 2003 Contents:
Whose Intellectual Freedom is it Anyway?
MLIS Students Pay More Under New Tiered Tuition System
Field Report: Alaska
The Library Catalog: What's in it for You?
Traveling Home for the Holidays on the Information Not-So-Superhighway
Book Review: The Mystery of Flight 427: Inside a Crash
Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan Series
Giving Tree Selection Committee sought
Group Projects for LIS510 are a Success
Intellectual Freedom is it Anyway?
Why, in so
many cases, are we as a profession so steadfast about preserving the
public's intellectual freedom while so ardently forgoing our own?
I hope everyone
had a great holiday and took the opportunity to recharge and tackle
winter quarter 2003 with all the enthusiasm and vigor that a new (calendar)
year traditionally brings. I intended to write something lighthearted
this month, but the holidays always get me thinking about the state
of the world and the state of my life. Something has been gnawing at
me that I need to get off my chest.
I chose to pursue
librarianship because of the ideals associated with the profession.
Libraries (public, at least) not only offer information from multiple
viewpoints, but serve as community centers where people can feel safe
and confident about expressing divergent and often unpopular opinions
and views. Some would argue this is the very foundation upon which our
country was built. In our profession, we call this "intellectual
freedom." Like "information" and "document,"
intellectual freedom has many different definitions and interpretations.
Anyone who has faced challenges typical to libraries (banned books,
purchasing materials with controversial viewpoints, providing meeting
space for groups with questionable political agendas, etc.) knows that
believing in intellectual freedom is easy while practicing it is not.
Over the break,
I got together with Amanda Hirst and Jenifer Loomis to prepare an article
for publication that we wrote last spring. As part of a class assignment
for our LIS 570 Research Methods class spring quarter 2002, we took
on an ambitious study that surveyed librarians at Seattle Public Library
about their personal opinions in regards to patrons accessing pornography
on library Internet terminals. The purpose of the study was to first
determine if differences exist between the librarians' personal opinions
and professional protocols in regard to this subject matter (they do),
and if so, how the librarians go about reconciling these differences.
The online survey collected both quantitative and qualitative data from
nearly 60 respondents (40 percent of our target population). It was
an amazing learning experience, but I was unprepared for what followed
when we presented our results to the class.
I spent a lot of
time and effort preparing our report and subsequent class presentation,
but (as is often the case with me) didn't fully comprehend the significance
of our findings until I stepped back and looked at the larger-than-life
PowerPoint slides projected onto the wall and saw our results from our
classmates' point of view. What struck me hardest was the fact that
one of the recurring themes in the qualitative (text box) responses
was that many of our survey respondents generally didn't feel "safe"
expressing any sort of divergent views within the organization or profession.
We aren't talking about voicing personal opinions to the public. Our
respondents generally possessed the ability to enforce policies with
which they disagreed, even when they found such enforcement difficult.
However, many of the respondents thought silence within the profession
was the road of least resistance.
Once we opened
this door to the class, the reactions were both stultifying and disheartening.
At least two students (in a class of 15-20 total) related their own
emotionally-charged experiences within the iSchool where they were either
brow-beat for expressing a divergent view in regards to intellectual
freedom, or didn't feel comfortable enough to express their opinion
in the first place. I have personally witnessed particular individuals
in my own classes come under verbal attacks by other students because
their opinions did not coincide with academic ideals. The problem here
is that while academic ideals and theory may work beautifully in the
classroom, they're of very little use in real world situations where,
for example, an angry father is threatening to bash your head in because
his grade-school-age daughter looked at online pictures of naked men
at the library.
as it relates to Internet pornography is an emotional and, yes, complicated
issue. This whole project changed my view of our professional ideals.
Why, in so many cases, are we as a profession so steadfast about preserving
the public's intellectual freedom while so ardently forgoing our own?
This epiphany ended the school year on a sour note for me. I spent a
lot of time during the summer processing what I learned and questioning
where I, as an individual who works so hard at remaining true to himself,
fit into a profession that doesn't. Obviously, I was overreacting a
bit, but it provided fierce food for thought.
It was also a bummer
of a way to end my first year in the iSchool.
I can't think of
a happy ending for this editorial, so let me conclude by encouraging
all of you who have divergent views to express them in your classes,
in your life, and in your subsequent endeavors. We are here to think
for ourselves, and with divergent political views increasingly coming
under attack in this country, it's important that we as a profession
stand our ground and practice internally what we claim to represent
Silverfish Senior Editor
Students Pay More Under New Tiered Tuition System
By Katy Shaw
MLIS students were
unpleasantly surprised to find that, at the beginning of Autumn Quarter
2002, a new three-tiered tuition system was implemented for graduate
students. The fact that tuition was going up was not in itself a surprise.
Tuition is skyrocketing for higher education across the state, and students
have come to expect this as an unfortunate side effect of the slowing
economy... FULL STORY
By Sarah Bosarge
The Jon Krakauer
best seller Into the Wild tells the story of Christopher McCandless,
a new college graduate who gave away all the money in his savings
account and then dropped out of society eventually making his way
to Alaska where he starved to death in the shadow of Denali. Distance
MLIS student Wendy Zimmerman tells a similar story of selling her
belongings and driving to Alaska, but, of course, Wendy's story has
a happier ending... FULL STORY
Library Catalog: What's in it for You?
By Jenna Irwin
It could be argued
that what makes a library a library is the catalog. A library without
a catalog is just a collection of materials
So what do catalogs
have to offer that is so special?... FULL
Home for the Holidays on the Information Not-So-Superhighway
By Beth Lahickey
Over the winter
break, I visited my relatives on the east coast. Like many people, we
keep in touch these days using email and occasionally attaching digital
Review: The Mystery of Flight 427: Inside a Crash Investigation
By Joan Hutchinson
I have a fear of
flying. Oh, I still get on a plane when I need to, but I grit my teeth
(and gulp wine) throughout the flight and breathe a sigh of relief when
the wheels touch down. So why would I read a book about a fatal plane
McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan Series
By John Buell
Like many of you,
I had such good intentions this winter break to get something useful
done. I took three weeks off from work starting the day I turned in
my last project, intending to get started on my portfolio, but fate
smacked me a cruel blow in the guise of a nasty, mean rhinovirus. Instead
of going into the gross details of this particular cold, however, I
thought I would gush about my latest science fiction obsession, the
Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold... FULL
Tree Selection Committee sought
By Rachael Bohn
CALLING ALL FUTURE
LIBRARIANS! Are you interested in the literacy needs of children? Would
you like to be involved in picking a great book for an underprivileged
child who might not own a single book otherwise? Would you like to see
the iSchool become an important player in the reading lives of our community's
most needy children? FULL
Projects for LIS510 are a Success
By Katy Shaw
During the second
half of autumn quarter, the halls of Mary Gates were abuzz as first
year MLIS students feverishly put the final touches on their group projects
for their Information Behavior classes. The atmosphere was rife with
excitement and apprehension, owing in part to the fact that the presentation
was worth 40 percent of the class grade... FULL
Are you interested
in sharing your knowledge with the rest of the student body? Have you
attended any conferences or taken an interesting or worthwhile class
outside of the department? Would you care to review nearby bars for
us? Send your Silverfish submissions to email@example.com.
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