Who Decides What’s In “The Canon”?

Today’s Read: Alexandra Kemmerer, Juristische Kanonfragen: Andere Auffassungen nähren die Neugier (Legal Canon Questions: Other Views Feed Curiosity), July 27, 2020, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, https://www.faz.net/aktuell/wissen/geist-soziales/juristische-kanonfragen-gegenprobe-auf-den-juristischen-kanon-16682327.html.

Today’s read is a short newspaper article written by my friend Alexandra Kemmerer, who is a Berlin-based senior fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (located in Heidelberg).  She also writes for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, which is where this article was published.

This article is in German, and it stretched me in terms of both language and substance, so I hope I get everything right AND can do it justice.  I also want to use it as a springboard for some thoughts I have about how the concept of the canon affects academic librarianship.

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Equitable Information Access and Librarianship Praxis: Let’s Get Critical

Today’s Read:
Lauren Smith & Michael Hanson
Communities of Praxis: Transforming Access to Information for Equity
The Serials Librarian, v. 76, nos. 1-4, pp. 42-49
DOI: 10.1080/0361526X.2019.1593015

I recently submitted a proposal to write a chapter on Critical Legal Studies for a new library science textbook, and it was accepted.

In the proposal, I used the Critical Legal Studies research guide I created for our library to create a framework for the future book chapter. Basically, I want to get the content of this guide into some kind of written form, since library research guides have a bit of an ephemeral quality.

While the chapter will be primarily about critical studies in law, it will also include some basic information about critical librarianship. I want to encourage future law librarians consider issues of disproportionate representation and information access in their own professional practice. Or, put another way, I hope that they will choose to incorporate praxis into their practice of librarianship.

For this reason, this recent article from The Serials Librarian caught my eye, and I decided to blog about it. The article is based on a presentation given by Lauren Smith at the 2018 NASIG (formerly the North American Serials Interest Group) conference. In her talk, Smith discussed three themes that are necessary to “democratize” information, which means making sure that all people are empowered to exercise their right to access it: power, praxis, and privilege.

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Blogging as an Exercise in Control; Ethnography in Libraries

Citation:
Donna Lanclos and Andrew D. Asher, “Ethnographish”: The State of Ethnography in Libraries, Weave: Journal of Library User Experience, Volume 1, Issue 5, 2016, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/weave.12535642.0001.503

So I think I am already getting the hang of how blogging will ebb and flow, in terms of the quantity of blog posts that I can reasonably manage at various times of the year. Late July and early August are, obviously, prime for daily reading of articles and blogging about them — it is right after the AALL annual meeting, and I am pumped about new ideas and scholarship. However, as mid-August approaches, we start preparing for the beginning of the academic year, and I have to cut back, which is OK.

I expect I will be back to daily blogging sometime in November, but even then it is too far in the future to worry about today. At least I am managing to do something today, which is good.

What did worry me today is that I noticed that a number of my previous blog posts had had their text replaced with an hyperlinked advertisement. WHAT?!?!?!?! I pay money for this blog and was very unhappy that this could happen. The poor person on the WordPress end of a support chat this morning got an earful from me. (An eyeful?) But they took it like a true pro, and showed me how to revert to previously-saved versions of posts, which I did. They also suggested I change to a stronger password, and I did that as well.

So three cheers for WordPress User Support. I am often on their end of our library’s chat reference, and I hope I handle difficult people as nicely as they handled me.

(Also, maybe I could have been a little less difficult, although I thought that HOURS of work had been deleted forever and I was not happy about it, so I am going to cut myself a little slack.)

Anyway, today’s article continues on the theme from last week: ethnography. I found an article written by two ethnographers who work full-time in academic libraries, and found that they had some very interesting things to say on this topic.

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Librarians: Is Your Community of Practice (CoP) Doing More Harm Than Good?

Citation:
Sarah Vela, Knowledge Management, Diversity, and Professional Hierarchies in Libraries, Journal of Library Administration, v. 58, no. 8, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2018.1516950.

I had originally scheduled an article about legal translation today. However, after yesterday’s article about identities in the workplace, I decided this was a topic I wanted to spend more time with. Various searches led me to this article from 2018.

The author is a PhD student, and her research on knowledge management (KM) and organizational and cultural management models is quite extensive. With this article, the author is attempting to fill what she views as a gap in the literature: how KM and its influence on organizational behavior manifests itself in libraries.

It took her a while (perhaps a bit too long) to get to the libraries part. She began with a historical explanation of the concept of KM, and how it is based on the idea that there are two levels of knowledge: explicit (“comprehension associated with education and intellect”) and tacit (something that is “learned by doing”).

She also described how, in the literature, a “continuum of the degree of tacitness” of knowledge has been developed, and that the nature of knowledge can change based on where it is located on this continuum.

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Information Marginalization, Information Inequity, and Information Poverty

Citation:
Amelia N. Gibson and John D. Martin III, Re-Situating Information Poverty: Information Marginalization and Parents of Individuals With Disabilities, JOURNAL OF THE ASSOCIATION FOR INFORMATION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, 70(5):476–487, 2019, DOI: 10.1002/asi.24128

I didn’t realize how strong my own biases were in thinking about this topic. Perhaps some of this comes from, as the authors point out, the fact that, in the past, studies like this sought to explore “information poor” people. These types of studies focus on the behavior of marginalized people rather than the institutional standards and practices that not only cause information poverty among certain demographics, but also seem to accept and encourage it.

Reader, my eyes have been opened…

According to the authors, the preferred focus on these types of studies should be “information marginalization,” which they define as “systematic, interactive socio-technical processes that can push and hold certain groups of people at social ‘margins,’ where their needs are persistently ignored or overlooked.” People who are information marginalized suffer from systemic causes of information poverty, which primarily result from a lack of resources, both technical and educational, that many people take for granted.

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