Our next discussion topic is guest hosted by the Queensland University of Technology Information Studies Group with the team exploring the the topic of libraries as place. Today’s post comes from Dr Kate Davis:
I read an interesting article recently that I wanted to share. The article Falling short of their profession’s needs looks at reading and library as place and the purported absence of these in LIS curricula and research.
Writing about his research for the book Part of Our Lives: A People¹s History of the American Public Library, Wayne A. Wiegand highlights the role of place in the history of the public library:
³[Libraries] have been places of performance where users displayed moral progress and achievement. They have functioned as centripetal forces to craft a sense of community among disparate populations and evolve community trust among its multicultural elements. They have acted as key players not only to increase literacy (tens of thousands of immigrants learned English by reading printed materials from their public libraries) but also to construct group identity through the stories and places they provided. And public libraries have also started neighborhood conversations, welcomed the recently arrived into their midst, and served as community anchors.”
But the author also says that neither LIS research or LIS curricula adequately addresses the concept of library as place, and that both are failing to meet the needs of the profession:
“until LIS educators teach library reading and library as place in their professional programs at the core level, and until LIS researchers ask questions about what users learn from their interaction with libraries and determine how that learning fits into their everyday lives, both are addressing only a fraction of what libraries actually do for their patrons. And both are falling short of their profession¹s needs.”
What do you think? Is library as place underrepresented in LIS research? Did your LIS course cover library as place?