by Aaron Bowen, MLIS Day

At last year's first Silverfish staff meeting then-editors John Glover and Phoebe Ayers asked the staff to introduce themselves and give a general synopsis of the topics about which they planned to write during the coming year. When it came my turn I introduced myself as something that few LIS publications have on their staff: a foreign affairs columnist. His curiosity peaked by the presence of this relatively unexpected staff role, staff writer Mark Bardsley asked me to expand upon the marriage of foreign affairs (or international studies, or globalization - insert your preferred term) to library and information science, and how I would turn this into a feature column. I had anticipated that this combination of fields would prove puzzling for many people, so I was glad Mark asked for further explanation. I explained my ideas for Biblioteca to the staff and later wrote this explanation up in my first column last year, which should (hopefully) provide an introduction to what Biblioteca is all about.

In addition to reading novels and relaxing, I spent much of this summer further developing my ideas about international information, both through my work in the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology's information center, and by reading several articles and books on international information. Here are some of the documents I read.

Warschauer, Mark. 2003. Technology and Social Inclusion: Rethinking the Digital Divide. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Wilson, E.J. 2004. The Information Revolution and Developing Countries. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

In addition to offering useful discussions on how information and communication technologies (ICT) have or have not benefited developing countries and how they may still do so in the future, these two books from MIT represent accessible introductions to the globalization of information. Both Warschauer and Wilson offer lucid insights not just about technological barriers to global information sharing but also to the sociopolitical and socioeconomic issues that accompany this global exchange. They further develop the issues Manuel Castells examines in his 2001 classic The Internet Galaxy.

I also read two documents in particular relating to the September 11th terrorist attacks:

Ross, Anthony, and Caidi, Nadia. 2005. Action and Reaction: Libraries in the Post 9/11 Environment. Library and Information Science Research 27.
Friedman, Thomas L. 2002. Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Ross and Caidi provide an overview of post-9/11 legislation in the U.S. and Canada, such as the USA PATRIOT Act and the Homeland Security Act in the U.S., and the Public Safety Act and Lawful Access proposals in Canada. From here they discuss the implications of this legislation on libraries, as well as the responses of the library communities in the two countries to their respective pieces of legislation. I found this piece particularly useful in its synthesis of the post-9/11 political climate, the legislation it produced and the library community's response in to a single, clear document.

Thomas L. Friedman's book does not deal with libraries explicitly, but, based on his thoughts in his previous book The Lexis and the Olive Tree, he does comment on the role of ICT in the global political environment that has unfolded since September 11. I also found Longitudes and Attitudes useful as a means of grounding my thinking about the global flow of information in the post-9/11 political climate and the geopolitical unions and rivalries it has sparked.

Latsch, Wolfram. 2005. The Last Word. Address delivered to the UW's class of 2005.

This speech is available here. Not only does professor Latsch, a political economist in the UW's Jackson School of International Studies, offer a range of insights about the interconnected environment into which intrepid college graduates are sent forth, he also makes you laugh. From reading his address to getting to know him through an international development course last year, I know firsthand that professor Latsch is a greatly entertaining speaker. Read The Last Word. Now. I mean it - you'll enjoy it.

I've got a wide variety of ideas for Biblioteca this year, from Internet censorship in China to technology in India. Next issue, however, I'll give a report on SIG-III's activities at the national ASIS&T conference. See you then!


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Page last updated: November 16, 2005