Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

LRSV – Friday

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Library Research Seminar V – Friday, October 8th, 2010

From Virus to Bait: Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and Their Readers in Library Science Professional Literature (2000-2004) Lucia Cedeira Serantes, Doctoral student, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, University of Western Ontario (PDF abstract)

Serantes is investigating the attitudes of librarians towards comic books and their readers. Historically, comic books have been attacked, but now librarians are using graphic novels to attract youth. We seem to talk about everything else (the format, reviews, how to purchase and build a collection) except the impact on readers. Comic book reading has been described as a disease/addition, with the antidote being “good” literature. Even the more positive discussion about comic book reading is based on stereotypes and confines the readers (reading comic books is better than reading nothing at all, it draws in the “lazy” reader, is a catalyst leading to other “better” types of literature, etc). Serantes asks some intriguing questions: if comic books are not literature, what are they? Even with graphic novels catching on in recent years, have our attitudes really change much since the 1940s/1950s? Are we reproducing old discourses? She calls for a change in the way we talk about graphic novels and their readers, concluding that comic books are rich, diverse, multilayered reading materials good for almost any kind of reader: reluctant, visual, avid or genre-focused.

Excursions into Post-Modern Young Adult Librarianship Anthony Bernier, Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Science, San José State University (PDF abstract)

Bernier is using critical social theory to look at the 19th century origins of five cultural assumptions of youthmetrics: middle class hegemony; chronologically-defined behaviors; exclusively future-oriented; socially homogeneous; and pathology-driven. He states that “Youth is defined by prohibitions,” including restrictions on information and calls for LIS to develop its own vision of youth.

What Do Graphic Novels Tell Young Adults about Disabilities? Robin Moeller, Visiting Assistant Professor; and Marilyn Irwin, Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Science, Indiana University, Indianapolis (PDF abstract)

Moeller and Irwin are studying graphic novels for a content analysis of characters with disabilities. They have looked at a sample from one of the YALSA best-of lists and are currently investigating graphic novels off the New York Times bestsellers list. Initial analysis has found that most female characters with disabilities are portrayed as “pitiable” and most male characters with disabilities are portrayed as “evil.” Almost all portrayals are negative and there are many missed opportunities to show accurate representations of characters with disabilities (i.e. school lunchroom/class scenes where there is no one with crutches, a wheelchair, etc). In their ongoing study of the graphic novels from the NYT list, the researchers are finding many more instances of characters with disabilities and that many of the disabilities have been caused by violent acts. Negative stereotypes abound – what implication does this kind of representation have for our collections/students reading these materials?

Political Ideologies in Public Libraries: An Effective Approach to Spread Propaganda? Raymond Pun, Periodicals Librarian, New York Public Library (PDF abstract)

Pun is studying the impact of public libraries on the spread of propaganda in Nazi Germany and Communist China. He found that there was an impact on collection development, including the removal of Jewish-related/Classical/Western works, “volkish” books written by Nazis, and lots of children’s literature due to concerns for future citizens and leadership in these regimes. Public libraries also played a role in changes in classification schemes, including the addition of sections for Marxism, Leninism and Maoism along with the reclassification of materials for inclusion in the open stacks (a method of controlling what people were reading). The last category was impact relating to the use of library space, with Pun finding that there were many propaganda-filled exhibitions, storytimes for adults and children, and politically-oriented reading rooms. Librarians were forced to “cleanse” their collections or face the consequences. However, some secretly circulated banned books and organized underground reading groups. This “collection cleansing” also resulted in a booming black market.

The Axiologies of the Anti-Collection: Preliminary Explorations Betsy Van der Veer Martens, Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Oklahoma (PDF abstract)

Martens is a fellow Syracuse University alum! She discussed the convergence of the LAMs (libraries, archives, and museums) and how they are merging together in our new, flat world within the digital environment. What is out there in the anti-collection, and what should LAMs be bringing in to the core collections? If digital collections are boundary objects, can we distinguish between the value systems of the core and anti-collections? LAM associations have articulated value systems for the core collections – accessibility, accountability, ambiguity and autonomy. Martens identifies four arenas of the anti-collection: transformative (art, i.e. archiveofourown), transgressive (science, i.e. arXiv), transactive (social, i.e. wikileaks), and transumptive (sacred, i.e. NAGPRA). She had a great slide featuring the whole layout of the value system comparison but I couldn’t write it all down in time. I’ll try to get the presentation slides…

Alternative Libraries of Heterotopias: Challenging Conventional Constructs Marie L. Radford, Associate Professor; and Jessica Lingel, Doctoral student, Department of Library and Information Science, School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University (PDF abstract)

Radford discussed Foucault’s idea of heterotopias (Des Espace Autres) and how alternative libraries are some of these counter-sites. The researchers found two types — proactive (based on socio-political activism, community spaces/services) and reactive (based on incorporating technology, the digital divide & web 2.0). Lingel talked about five examples of these alternative libraries as heterotopias: the reanimation library (reclaimed library books for artists & writers), the Public Library of American Public Library Deaccession (a metacollection/art installation on deaccessioned books), the Prelinger Library (encouraging serendipitous discovery), LibraryThing (as a reactive example), and Cabinet National Library. All of these projects were all new to me, with the exception of LibraryThing! The researchers credit these types of alternative library heterotopias to the current crisis of confidence in libraries as institutions and librarianship as a profession.

Kindling Interest in New Technologies: Graduate Education Students Experience E-books Dolores Fidishun, Head Librarian; and Ronald R. Musoleno, Senior Lecturer, College of Education; Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies (PDF abstract)

This librarian-lecturer team used Kindles in an educational leadership class. The class was 50% online and Kindles were rotated amongst the students. The professor switched to a textbook that was downloadable and the library PDF-ed all the course readings. There were also specific task-oriented activities for the students to learn about Kindle functionality. Impressions and feedback were extremely positive – students appreciated the convenience, felt “special” to be in the study, and saw potential for using such technology in the future. None of the students had used or owned a Kindle before the course. They also like the shared experience in the classroom (being able to talk to their peers about the Kindles) which contributed to a collaborative learning environment.

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Written by Erin Dorney

October 13, 2010 at 4:13 AM

One Response

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  1. […] librarianship and literature.  I see that this panel has already been thoroughly discussed at Library Scenester by Erin Dorney, another conference fellowship recipient – check it […]


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