As if my headache wasn’t bad enough….

As if the readings on the Dewey System, enumerative and synthetic approaches to classification and PRECIS weren’t enough to send my head into a spin, I then discover that a couple of ‘serious’ websites have decided my previous rant was worthy of deconstruction.  Quite why this was deemed to be a worthy use of their time, I’m not too sure.  This is blog is not here to offer a fully considered view on the future of the libraries.  It is merely a chance for me to either share my ‘joy’ of studying the course or make a couple of observations about public libraries.  It’s not intended to carry weighty examinations of the future of public libraries (although that may come in time), it’s merely a crutch to support my learning.  I would think it would be more valuable if those that cared about libraries actually deconstructed what was said by Burnham, rather than small-time bloggers.

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3 thoughts on “As if my headache wasn’t bad enough….

  1. You have a point. I did have some qualms afterwards, about taking issue with a ‘small-time’ (your term!) blogger. But then, I did discuss the Burnham piece several days ago, so I wasn’t neglecting the one to do the other. I was interested in the fact that you are a future librarian and you do take it for granted that, for instance, the Burnham article was ‘elitist.’ I was also interested in the fact that the unBurnham view (so to speak) is so taken for granted that you didn’t bother to argue it, you just assumed it. I take that to be indicative of what is taught to library students, and I find that depressing.

    But I loved your story about the guy doing research on the now-obscure Victorian novelist. Librarians rock. I think they should keep in mind that a lot of people really do need and want the library to be a place that makes reading and thinking possible, but I also think they rock.

    (To explain as briefly as possible, so as not to bore you: you say libraries should be welcoming; I agree entirely; but I think they should be welcoming as libraries, and I think they are: everyone is welcome to come in and use them, but there are or ought to be certain limits on what activities can go on there, in order to enable libraries to be libraries. The idea perhaps is that a quiet atmosphere repels some people – but then a noisy atmosphere repels others. Perhaps the idea is that more people are repelled by quiet, and majority taste should win? If so, I respectfully disagree. I think that would be unfair above all to people who don’t have the money to provide themselves with quiet places to study. I think they should have somewhere public to go – somewhere bigger than a side room of the library.)

  2. I guess it’s fair enough if you posted on the Burnham speech beforehand – still, it was quite a shock to see my post ripped to shreds like that!

    Anyway, I totally understand your point of view. However, for me I think there needs to be a space in the public library for silence (most of our libraries have a quiet space in the reference/local studies areas) and a place for discussion and other more vocal activities (for example the regulars who read our papers and discuss current affairs or the rhyme times for children which play a massive role in their development). There is no reason, in my view, why there needs to be one to the exclusion of the other. There is space for both and, with smart planning, it should certainly be achievable.

    As I said before, we have rooms in our main town centre library for research and ‘serious study’ that are quite separate from the hustle and bustle (and ‘noise’ if you prefer) in the main lending library and children’s library. I think this is a sensible solution to the issue. Although, having said that, I still think that the idea of having a ‘rule’ (ie something that has to be actively enforced) is unneccessary. It does not require a librarian to maintain peace and order in research areas, primarily because the people who are likely to make noise are unlikely to utilise that part of the service.

    One thing is for certain, the speech has certainly provoked discussion about the role of public libraries and I am sure we can both agree that this is vital for their future. It has been a long time since libraries were the centre of such debate and I personally believe that this is a very good thing.

  3. Sorry about the shock!

    I agree about the rule, actually; I don’t think a rule is particularly necessary. Where I disagree is with the idea that it is the quiet place that should be the small separate space. What that translates to in libraries I’m familiar with is one or two tiny rooms that individuals can shut themselves into while all the rest of the space is a noisy carnival. It depends on a lot of things like total quantity of space, layout, number of floors, etc, how workable or unworkable this is. In some big libraries it’s possible to get far enough away from the circulation desk and information desks to find quiet corners to read – but it’s often not possible to browse the shelves in peace. I think the shelves themselves should be fairly quiet areas because one does need to be able to think while looking for books.

    But I do agree about having discussions and areas for them. I’m very keen on discussions! I ran a book discussion group myself for years. We met in coffee shops…and probably tormented the other customers with our raucous talk about books.

    :- )

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