Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Uncovering academic librarians

Another quick tidbit found on Inside Higher Ed, dealing with the supposed "silence" of academic librarians writing about the political, economic, and normative debates surrounding their profession. Scott McLemee writes fondly of these librarians,

Their work constitutes the real intersection of knowledge and power — not as concepts to be analyzed, but at the level of almost nonstop practical negotiation. It is the cultural profession most involved, from day to day, with questions concerning public budgets, information technology, the cost of new publications, and intellectual freedom. (On the latter, check out the American Library Association’s page on the Patriot Act.)

(Cite: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2005/06/09/mclemee)

But then he goes on to lament the lack of a collective voice that these information workers bring to the public sphere and the media landscape. He writes,

The answer might be the creation of a group blog for academic librarians — some prominent in their field, others less well-known, and perhaps even a couple of them anonymous. No one participant would be under pressure to generate fresh insights every day or two. By pooling resources, such a group could strike terror in the hearts of budget-cutting administrators, price-gouging journal publishers, and even the occasional professor prone to associating academic stardom with aristocratic privilege.

This is a great idea in my opinion, and obviously in the opinion of the legions of librarians out there who are already blogging, judging from the comments left on McLemee's piece. The article, with the addition of these thoughtful responses, turns from a call to action to an action resource, listing blog addresses and indexes for just the kind of purposeful debate that McLemee was searching for. (And let me say I'm liking InsideHigherEd more and more for just this reason -- the comments to its postings are the most civil and well-prepared I've seen on any web, news, or blog site in a long time). I share the belief that collective blogs rooted within communities of practice but intended to speak about and to the outside world of political-economic-social experience hold the best prospect of bringing the technological, spatio-temproal promise of blogging -- as crucial adjunct to and intermediary between both mass media and interpersonal interaction -- to fruition.

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