Discussions on Library and Information Science

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Frank Schaefer and his Los Gatos UMC visit

Last night I attended an event for Rev. Frank Schaefer. You may remember he is the pastor who made national news for being defrocked for officiating his sons same sex marriage in 2007. His story was sad and joyful and not always for the reasons one might expect. I believe we do better when we stand on the side of equal rights for all on earth, in heaven, and everywhere else in between. My husband and I can relate somewhat to Pastor Schaefer’s story in that we have stood by our children when it was time to tell them God loves and affirms them no matter what a particular church may be struggling to do or understand. That is really the joyful part. Let me be very clear: There is no greater joy than to stand with someone you love and affirm who they are in front of the world. Even and maybe even especially when “the world” is doing it’s hardest to do otherwise. Even when if feels like you cast yourself into a potential free fall.  I coveted his joy. I experienced profound sadness in two parts of his story: When I heard the story of his son as a young teenager struggling with his new understanding he may be gay and then being exposed to his church’s Annual Conference (regional opportunities for United Methodist Church Conferences to meet and decide policy). As is often the topic of debate at this particular conference and at so many conferences before and after all over the country, difficult, bitter, hateful dialogue takes place when the debate begins over homosexuality and Christian practice and policy. Frank did not know about his son’s struggle and his son had just learned the church he grew to love did not affirm him. Tim, Frank’s son, lived with this pain for years, trying to change, trying to understand, alone with God. Tim had confided in the one and only person with whom he felt safe sharing such a tender truth. In fear, his friend told her mother and in turn, her mother shared with the Pastor the shocking news that not only was his son gay but also on the verge of suicide. That is where this hateful church policy has delivered us. It is not harming those who firmly stand in opposition because as I said before, it is a joy to stand firmly in love and God to the point of rejection. It harms the quiet, impressionable souls who are afraid to speak their truth. They are afraid of being rejected not for what they believe but for who.they.are. Pastor Schaefer did the only thing he could possibly do as a follower, a father, and a man of God: He affirmed his son, embraced him with great love and assured him he knew God made no mistake: gay or straight, his son would be loved and affirmed by God and by his family. So far, God wins this round.

But what about the church.

That is where my other sadness comes into play. Somehow we have taken our holy scripture and we have found ways to create what we believe to be “air tight” arguments that God rejects “homosexuality” and that LGBT persons need to transform (with God’s . I have been at the receiving end of only a small portion of this behavior, really, choosing to surround myself with people who take a more discerning approach to our holy scripture. I do not reject the Bible but I embrace it and stay open to how it is speaking to my life and the truth I experience. It is not so clear cut and it is never easy. When it becomes easy, I know I am doing something wrong. That’s just me. But when we use this book to craft ways to justify our hate and fear, well, there are amazing ways to do just that. When that happens, dialogue becomes all but impossible and we find ourselves in what I believe to be hell.

When you find you construct realities defined by walls that stand between you and what you love with all your heart, that is hell. You can quote scripture all day long, make your “air tight” argument, speak for God if you dare but in the end if it destroys more than it affirms, my advise would be to back away from the Bible for a bit, just for a bit, and listen. You can go back to it, love it, look at it, but embrace the love story instead of just the words. See if you can do something about those walls you build with blocks of scripture and verse. Consider who they serve. Then find words that define your fear and speak them in love. Consider how they are received and vow to listen in the same spirit.

Speak your truth in love and faith, not just faith. It will make a great difference. It will invite great blessings.


Where is our Melvil Dewey Today?

(Reflective essay assignment from LIB 200 class at SJSU SLIS)

I draw a blank.  It’s been 35 years and I can remember the name of nearly every teacher and staff member of my high school but if you ask me who my school librarian was, I can’t tell you. I spent hours in the school library and I vaguely remember a middle aged, thin and quiet woman at the circulation desk. She probably helped me and she probably was very good at her job. The library was a very popular place to study, hang out and do research. But why can’t I remember that librarian?

Fast forward 25 years later. I am a library assistant in an elementary school. I thought when I applied for the job that library assistant meant I would be assisting the librarian. It did not. I was handed the keys, shown to the library door and as far as 300+ kindergarten through fifth graders were concerned, I was the librarian. I knew the Dewey Decimal System, I enjoyed reading, I’ve used a library and I liked children. That was the extent of my qualifications. It was made clear to me that no real teaching was required. But district standards dictate that students should learn basic library research skills beginning as young as second grade. The teachers didn’t teach basic library skills as far as I could tell, and I thought it was a good idea for students to learn these skills. Nobody objected, so I taught them what I knew, qualified or not. It bothers me that parents and teachers never questioned my instruction or had expectations for it to align with standards or classroom instruction. Did these educators feel library and research skills were no longer important?

Now we fast forward again to the present. My title is Library Resource Specialist in a small professional library at the Santa Clara County Office of Education. I have worked at this library for five years. Our library is supervised by a credentialed teacher librarian. Our cataloging, procurement and research is done by a Library Technical Specialist with an MLIS degree. About a year ago I took an on-line training course in basic cataloging.  There was nothing that felt “basic” about that class. I foolishly believed cataloging only required a knack for being organized. It was a very difficult eight weeks. I could be no more proud of completing that class than I if I ran a marathon. After that experience, I developed an even greater respect for my librarian co-workers.

            Since the need for organizing, storing and retrieving information began around 3000 B.C., the regard for libraries rose to noble levels in Egypt, Assyria, Greece and Rome. It was clear sharing books helped powerful societies remain powerful as they evolved, conquered and grew. Libraries continued to fuel both secular and religious scholarship at the end of the Middle Ages and served as part of the growth of knowledge during the Renaissance. Literacy was a privilege and those who had access to literature not only enriched their own life but could possibly enrich the culture of the society they lived in (Rubin, 2010). Librarians were the keepers of powerful treasure. That gave them status and influence throughout history.

            In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, libraries multiplied across America. Melvil Dewey founded his library school. Due to Dewey’s charismatic and zealous advocacy as well as that of his disciples, librarianship was lifted beyond clerical management to a movement that would provide education and equality to all citizens. In so doing, libraries would strengthen a democracy by providing citizens the knowledge they required to make informed decisions. Free public libraries armed with librarians on a mission to teach skills to patrons, promote literacy and self-improvement embodied and reflected the progressive movement that was sweeping the nation. Librarians were young, professional, influential, well-educated public servants.

By 1920, census data reported 88 per cent of the 15,297 librarians in America were women (Maack, 1998). This old profession was fueled with great purpose and life in an emerging and powerful society.  It was one of the few scholarly professions that welcomed women whole-heartedly in one of the most defining times in history for women in America. The battle for gender equality was fierce in the 1920s.  Also, a growing number of librarians filled with passion for their roles as agents of change were organizing into professional organizations and writing for widely read professional publications. They were most certainly part of the national dialogue on matters of women’s rights (Maack, 1998).

            Considering the ancient and relatively recent history of libraries as they continued to be valued institutions, I am curious about the perceptions and stereotypes that have developed around librarians. Throughout history they clearly had influence on the culture and arguably had great influence over leaders and great thinkers alike. At the turn of the century in America, librarianship was revolutionized into a movement to educate and lift up an entire society one community at a time. At the forefront, deep in the ranks as well as all throughout all levels of professional management and leadership, women and some men very publicly and successfully advocated for libraries, education and intellectual freedom. This was a movement for strident visionaries and dedicated revolutionaries. Yet, if you type the term librarian in a Google image search box, up pops a disproportionate amount pictures of  bespectacled and seemingly ill-tempered women of a certain age dressed in matronly clothes surrounded not by computers and mobile devices of all sizes and flavors but by piles of musty, dusty books.

            I don’t know why I can’t remember my high school librarian’s name or face nor do I understand why it took me years working in a library to recognize the value of the scholarship it takes to be a librarian. Out of curiosity to see if anyone shared my old misperceptions, I asked a friend what she remembered of her high school librarian. She snickered as she described a woman who fit the description of the images I found in my Google search. Then she proceeded to ask me why I am training for a profession that will most likely be replaced by Google in a “few short years”.  And why would a progressive, extrovert-type want to be a librarian anyway?  I smiled when I realize what I have learned:  progressive, extrovert-types are just what this profession has always required.  We also need some serious help with branding. Where is our Melvil Dewey today?

Maack, M. (1998). Gender, culture, and the transformation of American librarianship, 1890-1920. Libraries & culture, 51-61.

Rubin, R. E. (2010). Foundations of Library and Information Science Third Edition. New York: Neal-Schuman Pubishers, Inc.


Personal Skills Needed to be a Successful On-line Student (Unit 5 Question 1 Part 2)

I’ve been out of the college scene for about 30 years so you can imagine how strange this feels. I have taken on-line classes for work and found them really great but I noticed it takes not only a willingness to show up and learn but a willingness  to become acquainted with new skills and tools to navigate the class itself. The hardest part of starting a new class before was finding the classroom but now I am learning to navigate around the internet, finding strategies to remember multiple passwords, making sure to check discussions and email and making proper settings. The process is challenging!  Having multiple options for managing time and work is great but it also takes time to figure out what works best for me. Sometimes that just means trying new things out and that can take time! Phew!

The assessment was somewhat helpful but sometimes my desire to find the “right answer” would override my understanding that this was not a “test” but an opportunity to reflect whether or not on-line learning is for me. Needless to say the assessment told me I was well suited. Perhaps someone who knows me and my habits well should have taken for me just to be sure. I am trying to stick to a “log on everyday” pattern. Next, I just really have to figure out what tools will work best for me. It seems I still am “hacking” around a bit and that is really no strategy. I hope logging on regularly and moving through the units will help me feel more at home and therefore better at finding what works best for me.

The tips from former students were helpful. To understand the beginning is a challenge gives me hope that I will be able to navigate this landscape like it is second nature before too long. I hope so. I do have to backtrack in the class sometimes to revisit what I thought I knew but had forgotten.

Some tools I have used before but not a lot. Google Docs I have used successfully. I’m not a “Skype” type.  I had problems logging into the Blackboard orientation once but I have used it successfully on three other occasions so I hopefully I will try again and it will work out.

So far the best resources have been the people. Encouragement, humor and advise goes a long way with me. The tips are the best.

Tag Cloud