Saturday, February 28, 2009

Movie Response - Wildcard

What really resonated with me in this video was how well both the students and the professionals each addressed the fact that the economy in America is changing and that a new workforce is developing. It is very true what they said – that those who do not have the skills and knowledge about new technology will be left behind in the workforce. Technology really is, as the video stated, “the gateway to the new economy,” and when individuals do not have access to that technology, they are automatically limited to the number and types of jobs they can carry.

In terms of the digital divide, many people who are born into low-income and/or minority families do not have access to computers and other technology that are needed to gain the skills and knowledge for certain types of jobs in our new electronic world. Not only is the younger generation in general having to compete with each other in this new economy, but also those who do not have the availability to attain the necessary skills and knowledge do not have the option to get ahead or even in line with their peers. There is an enormous need for these new skills to be learned in order to hold new jobs that technology is creating. The pressure for the younger generation to stay current and ahead of the trends is not equally distributed throughout the population because of the unfortunate lack of access to certain people. As the video said, “computers can change the lives of inner-city children.”

These new high schools specifically designed for teaching technology are able to help give minorities and low-income students a profound and immediate impact in their world of computers and technology. It gives them expertise, and it also changes their attitudes towards computers and technology in general. While cost is always an issue for schools like these to even begin, the benefits for those who would not have otherwise attained these new skills completely makes up for it, especially in their eyes.

- Valerie Figlmiller

"crossing the Divide" response

The movie was very interesting to me because it showed the personal and emotional side of the digital divide, whereas the other articles we've read for class list statistics and numbers, but don't show the real-life struggles and consequences of the digital divide. It shocked me that Luisa had to work for three years to save up for a computer, while the other girl had four computers in her house alone. The idea that Luisa could not get hired and that the other girl went on to a prestigious college further shocked me and made me understand the problems of the digital divide and why it is so important to understand how the divide is created and how it might be possible to "cross the divide". I thought Kep's story was the most promising and hopeful of the video because it showed how someone who is usually left behind in the digital divide, a minority and a n immigrant, can overcome the divide by having access to technology. By having access to technology, Kep was able to receive a good college education, which he could afford due to scholarships. The theme that "technology is the gateway to the economy" stressed the importance of providing teenagers with access to technology and equipping them with the skills needed to survive in the new technology-savvy workplace. Some people in the film advocated schools like New Tech High, but I don't see this as a valid solution to the problem because it is very costly and leaves high schoolers with no room for extra-curriculars, and schools like New Tec don't even offer a library. I think schools like this don't allow kids to become well-rounded individuals, since the students can't develop their interests through extra-curriculars or learn about multiple subjects, they are only immersed in understanding technology. Although technology is important to the future, I don't think it should become the only thing for schools to focus on.

Crossing the Divide Video Reaction

In the video, we observed the effects of technology and the digital divide on 4 young people. There were also several other factors that influenced each of these students chosen paths following their high school graduation. 
Luisa had always been a hard worker, working at a fast food restaurant from the time she was old enough to do so. She saved enough money to finally purchase her own computer, knowing computer skills are extremely important to have in this day and age. While she learned several valuable life skills through her job and in teaching herself how to use a computer, she failed to concentrate on her own education, and did not end up graduating high school on time. Had Luisa not have had to earn her own money from a young age, she may have put her motivated work ethic towards school rather than her fast food job. 
Cedra, on the other hand, received a specialized education focusing on technology, as her school in California was for those who were interested in going into a computer-related field after high school. Cedra was a very bright and motivated student, being the editor of the school newspaper and eventually getting accepted to the prestigious Brown University. Her advanced computer and technology skills gave her the upper hand and proved to be extremely beneficial for her higher education plans.
Travis and Kep were students at New Tech High, which gave students an experience that they would not have been able to get otherwise. Working on small group projects in a business-like environment gave students an excellent real-world experience, but nothing like the typical high school experience. There were no school sports or any fine arts classes. While this doesn't seem typical for high school, it ended up being very helpful for Travis and Kep's education. Travis felt like he wasn't receiving a quality education at his former high school, and after he transferred to New Tech High, he excelled in learning relevant skills needed for today's workforce. Kep also excelled at New Tech High, earning college scholarships after being named valedictorian. This is impressive, considering Kep and his family were immigrants, and he had to learn English as well as learn how to use a computer. Considering his circumstances, technology was the most influential factor to Kep's future, as it helped him better his life and help his family in their adjustment into American society. 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Video Reaction

5. I chose to pick the wild card option. I was a bit worried when the students talked about making tech schools a universal occurrence. I based my response around why this woudl not be a good thing:
It is easy to see the benefits that woudl come from digitizing Americas schools. It seemed as though the four students that the video focused on were gaining an incomparable edge over other teens but I think they were losing a lot as well. If schools like New Tech High were made universal, students would be deprived of important fine arts education and the schools woudl be distributing funding unfairly.
The students that went to these "Tech Schools" were deprived of art, after school activities, and sports. Although they may not miss these aspects of education now, they are still an important part of the high school experience. I am definitely not an artist but making pinch pots in ceramics' took the edge off calculus. High school students are not adults, meaning that they should be given the opportunity to indulge in the non academic parts of school as well. One woman in the video explained that schools have the job of producing well rounded people that can pursue a life and not just a career. I think that it is nearly impossible to leave a school like New Tech and expect to be well rounded. Also, in my own application experience, having a holistic high school career is important in order to get into college. These students may end up limited in their university options because their education relied so heavily on the following of one career path. These students may feel more prepared for the work force but they are really loosing a part of their high school education and also put at a disadvantage when it comes to their future pursuit of education.
The price tag for creating schools like New Tech High is astronomically high. It is irresponsible to completely digitize every high school for this reason as well because some students may not benefit from the money spent. I was the editor of my high school newspaper like Cedra. I am not usually compatible with comptuers but I learned the inter workings of several adobe programs and fostered an awkward love and page layout. I spent many nights on my computer up until 3am playing with borers and font sizes. The fact that this may seem ludicrous to some is precisely my point. If a school spends millions on installing state of the art programming and forcing students to learn how to use them they could be wasting time and money on uninterested students. I would have loved a class on page design but this does not mean the average high school student would benefit from it. By specializing all schools in order to close the digital divide, many students may be kept from learning what they actually want to learn. Schools should not
By forcing schools to teach their students only to deal with computers they are not producing well rounded individuals and keeping some from pursuing other goals.

Crossing The Divide Response

Luisa certainly had a few things that held her back such as her financial situation and her full time job. Technology helped her in that it prevented her from being in gangs at her school and provided her with a way to help her family, but I was surprised to find out she failed the photoshop exam. It was not surprising to find out that Cedra ended up becoming successful because she entered the scene already financially well off and technologically competent and didn't have the struggles that Luisa had to deal with.
Travis had a lot going on in his life just as Luisa did. He had to be the "man of the house" and was living with a family that had to support 8 people. Technology helped him a great deal because he was able to ignore the stereotypes and become a computer savvy student and, surprisingly, graduates after a senior project meltdown.
Kep had the most interesting story because he was an immigrant who had to learn many languages to help get by and support his family. Technology helped him as well because he was able to interact with people who shared the same passion for technology as he had and was able to integrate himself better into society.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Midterm: Week 5

What is “cyberpower”? Define its three forms: individual, social and ideological.

Cyberpower - the effect of online activity on power - can be measured and mapped.
individual - gaining skills and connections for oneself
social - gaining skills and connections for a group
ideological (imaginary) - gaining skills and making connections in order to advance the imaginary; a vision, a movement, an ideological purpose.

 How do CTCs/computing and Internet access create, enable or enhance “cyberpower”?  
"CTCs gain computer-related job and job-hunting skills as well as advances in the areas of employment, learning, increased confidence and sense of community... CTCs are popular with all ages, provide a wide variety of benefits and offer management sustainability challenges to their operators."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Midterm Question

The most obvious thing that separates the Near North Library from other libraries is that it brings two completely opposite communities together. One way this is done is particularly interesting. Page 36 mentions that "Some of them [children from Cabrini Green] work with the volunteers in the Homework Help program, most of whom are Gold Coast residents, retirees looking for satisfying and interesting ways to stay connected with the world." I thought this was interesting because it's an idea of integrating communities that I haven't seen implemented in libraries so much as just in schools.


The authors invoke Castells’ “dual city”? What is it? Briefly identify.

"By dual city, I understand an urban system socially and spatially polarised between high value-making groups and functions on the one hand and devalued social groups and downgraded spaces on the other hand... The power of new information technologies, however, enhances and deepens features present in the social structure and in power relationships."

P. 181 - Abdul Alkalimat and Kate Williams "Social capital and cyberpower"

Week 05 Communities, Learning and Democracy in the Digital Age

Connectivity: As quoted directly from the text, the level of a communitys high-speed connectivity can be measured in different ways: "a) points of access availability at public sites such as schools, libraries or community centers, in the home, in businesses or institutions, b) the number of Internet Service Providers  that offer high-speed Internet service in a community, c)and/or, the type and speeds of service offerings available from high-speed Internet providers DSL, cable modem, wireless, t1.5, DS3, etc."
Basically, just having access to internet is sometimes not enough.  Some web pages are becoming increasingly more complex and are requiring high-speed Internet connections that some households and communities do not have the capability to obtain...such as a "broadband digital divide."  Again, this is another barrier for underserved communities to access vital information.

Capability: As we said in discussion, words such as "education, proficiency, and skills" are also adequate in defining this term.  Capability "gauges the ability to deliver or acquire the service."  Skill in this article, is defined as having a technological understanding and the willingness to adapt to new technologies and ways of thinking.  It can also include teaching effective use of info. tech. tools and "encouraging creativity, productivity, and innovations of local entrepreneurs"  So in this case, skill is not simply referring to computer skills, but the ability to adapt to changes in the technological world and develop new skills when required.


 “Chapter 2 – Branch libraries: The heartbeat of the community.” In Better together: Restoring the American community (pp. 34-54). 

What were some special or innovative features of Chicago's Near North Branch Library? 

This library is physically appealing to the eye, encompassed with shrubs and flowers on the outside and with a large parking lot. It has meeting rooms available for classes, discussions, and neighborhood groups. They have an after school volunteer program called the Homework Help program, and the meeting rooms are used for finance workshops, job skills classes, teachers' in-service training, and more. Internet is accessible here and high school and college age "cybernavigators" teach basic computer and Web-search techniques

What were two goals local politicians and community leaders hoped to accomplish with its construction? The mayor hoped that locating Near North on the border between a run-down neighborhood and an affluent neighborhood would encourage improvements in the run-down neighborhood and bring together residents of the two neighborhoods who had no contact with each other otherwise. This library successfully bridge the two neighborhoods.  

How did location play a role in the creation of the library? 

The Near North Branch sits between two very different neighborhoods. One side is along the shore of Lake Michigan, which is wealthy and mainly white. The other neighborhood is known for its grim, high-rise public housing and crime. The location for The Near North Branch was not an accident, the building and everything inside of it all reflect the determination to make the library attractive to the whole range of potential users. The Mayer refers to the neighborhood library as the "heartbeat" of the community. The site of the library is in the run-down neighborhood, however, constructors hoped it would be close enough to the affluent neighborhood that it would still appeal to its residents. Despite its location, residents from both sides of the community soon partook in the libraries services, due to its aura of safety and appeal. 

These answers can be found on pages 2-4

Race and Place

What social and community changes prompted Hall's visit to the white cathedral?

Tracie Hall was growing up during an era of segregation. In an effort to desegregate, schools at that time would bus children from all black or white schools, to schools of the opposite race. "It was on of those "let's pretend to be pro-integration" exercises that post-Brown v. Board of Education schools engaged in back then." Hall was brought to see the white cathedral to try and expose her and her African American peers to the "white" side of town. On the tail end of the segregation era in the South, the government was attempting to integrate by simply exposing people to the other way of life. In Hall's case, it ended up backfiring, when she returned to the library and was so turned off that she didn't even take out a book. 

Week 04: Koontz, Jue, and Lance Article

Question: Circulation statistics, an easy measure to take, come back up in this article. Why are these problematic? What kinds of materials do they miss? What kinds of use and users do they miss? What can the outcome be of low circulation statistics?

Answer: Circulation statistics may be one of the easier statistics to take from a library, but they miss many of the libraries current-day functions, such as Internet use, in-library use of materials, programs hosted by the library, questions asked of the librarians, and other activities related to these. Since many low-income or rural families go to the library to use the Internet or to attend activities, their participation in the system may be overlooked if the only statistic being used is the circulation data. The outcome of having poor circulation statistics could be a severe drop in funding, which could cause the library to close. If the library has poor circulation and poor attendance, etc., this could be warranted. If the library has poor circulation but is actually utilized by the community it serves, it could lose funding when it needs it most.

I think a better way of measuring library use would be to include many kinds of statistics, a good deal of which would be easier to compile with today's technology. If the researching party looked at circulation along with factors like number of visitors, time spent on the Internet, attendance of library activities, and inquiries made to the librarian, the data would be much more comprehensive, which is what the researchers in this article discovered.

What is Social Capital?

The concept of social capital is rather simple, but giving an basic all-encompasing definition of the term is not very simple. Most definitions given seem incomplete or a little off. Many thoughtful people have placed slightly different meanings to social capital. I chose to answer this simple question because it bugs me that I keep finding different answers whenever I look it up.

As an engineer, I will try to apply a universal meaning to the term. Know that "capital" is the means of production, and "social" is relating to human society and its members. A "society" is an extended social group having a distinctive cultural and economic organization.

Therefore, "social capital" must be the capability of a society and its members to engage in social interactions and activities within that society.

I am not fond of the term social captial anyway because usually capital is associated with money, so the term reminds me of the infamous socialist (communist) policy of treating human beings as capital such as machinery with finite value.

Terms for "Neighborhood Analysis of Public Library Use in NY City"

· What is GIS, and how and why did the researchers use it in the context of this study? Why were notions of space important?

GIS stands for "geographic information system". It is a method that was applied in the software used to define the boundries for the space polygons representing "neighborhoods" in this particular study. The notions of "space" were important in this study in order to correlate travel distance and circulation statistics for a library within a given neighborhood.

· What is “central-place theory”?

Central-place theory refers to a centralized location (in this case a library) within a region where travel time to it from its boundries is approximately the same

· How did the researchers define “neighborhoods”?

In this study, a neighborhood was defined as a region of space containing one library exhibiting the central-place theory. The boundries of each neighborhood were also equidistant from the adjacent neighborhood library and its own library


Give an example of both bridging and bonding social capital.  Which one is inclusive and external, and which, exclusive and internal?  Which one is "glue" and which one is "WD-40?"

Bridging social capital is inclusive and external, while bonding social capital is exclusive and internal.  "Examples of bonding social capital include ethnic fraternal organizations, church-based women's reading groups, and fashionable country clubs.  Other networks are outward looking and encompass people across diverse social cleavages.  Examples of bridging social capital include the civil rights movement, many youth service groups, and ecumenical religious organizations.  (Putnam 22).  I would say that bridging social capital is glue because it tries to bring all different types of people together; on the other hand, bonding social capital is WD-40 because because it "repels" people that aren't similar to the people in the group.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cenral-Place Theory

What is "central-place theory"?
(p448) It is a location theory in geography explaining the location of consumer services such as library service. Accounts for travel time of library users, distance between libraries, or size of the library market area in the studies of library accessibility.

How did the researchers define "neighborhoods"?
(p449) They define the neighborhoods based on the market areas of the libraries and they only study the attributes of neighborhoods that influence the use of the public library. The most important attributes they study are social and spatial interactions.
"A limited territory within a larger urban area, where people inhibit dwellings and interact socially" or a geographic unit "within which certain social relationships exist."

week 04: Koontz, Jue, and Lance article

Question: How do libraries fulfill a role in the process of lifelong learning for low income persons?

The answer to this study question can be found on page 30 of the article at the bottom. The article states, "Public libraries are one of the few if not only public information resources in areas having a high concentration of low-income individuals." They contribute to lifelong learning because low income individuals have less access to information resources and fewer options for education. The authors emphasize that, "public libraries are vital in diminishing the information gap between the technical elite and the technical poor".

Pragmatic Technology

Define: pragmatic technology - "encompasses the common language notion of how to design tools to meet real human needs and accommodate users and their lived situations. It also sees ICTs as developed within a community of inquiry and embodying both means of action and forms of understanding; ICTs are an end result of as well as a means to accomplish, community work." Pg. 8

Types of Social Capital

Give an example of both bridging and bonding social capital. Which one is inclusive and external, and which, exclusive and internal? Which one is “glue” and which one is “WD-40”?

Bonding Social Capital-Could be something like an a specific religious sect or club based on ethnicity, while a bridging social club could be a weekend softball team or a poker club, where the people are heterogenous. Bonding is Exclusive and Internal while bridging is Inclusive and external. Bonding is Glue and Bridging is Wd-40.


Neighborhood-based in-library use performance measures for public libraries: A nationwide study of majority-minority and majority white/low income markets using personal digital data collectors 

Why are circulation statistics problematic?
(pg 29)- Circulation is the most universally collected statistic. Because of its widespread availability, circulation data are often used to measure the effectiveness and value of library service to a community... however, now that books are no longer the primary medium of information transfer and communities are no longer homogeneous, this approach is "no longer effective today as it ignores information that could be key in making critical decisions about today's public libraries." This is because there are new media formats (such as audio, videos, and other electronic resources) that constitute library use that are not included in circulation statistics. Also, circulation may be declining for some libraries "because of increased internet demand by local government and library administrators." (pg 31)

What can the outcome be of low circulation statistics?
(pg 30)- "it is critical that public library decision makers have data that enable them to measure performance and use, and assess needs, in vulnerable and diverse neighborhoods." So, without circulation statistics, this would not be possible.

What is the stated goal of this study?
(pg 32)- this study was designed to "research, demonstrate, and validate the critical need for 'neighborhood-level' library data to assist public librarians in assessing and addressing the needs of their particular library outlet's 'market-area.'"

What are some alternative measures of library use?
(pg 44-45)- reading/writing, browsing, using computers, checking out/using library card, library programs/tours, sitting alone/socializing, schoolwork, non-library programs, and other non-specified activities


Race and Place: a personal account of unequal access.

What is the white cathedral?

Tracie Hall describes the white cathedral as "A gleaming white, newly blue-carpeted edifice to self-learn-ing." she describes it as having endless rows of reading material and comfy chairs, even including some bean bags. She describes how the staff of the white cathedral was racially diverse, and spoke in quiet voices, and acted almost like children. However, Hall also says how to her and her mother and grandmother, the white cathedral seemed to be almost taunting, being representative of the superiority of the people who lived in the region near the "white cathedral." It was drastically different then the "yellow palace" to which she had been so used to visiting.

-Page 31 and 32


Question: What is "community informatics"? What does it hope to accomplish?

Answer: As Ann Peterson Bishop says in her article "Community Informatics: Integrating Action, Research and Learning" (p. 6), community informatics is "an emerging field of interdisciplinary scholarship and practice devoted to enabling communities with information and communications technologies (ITCs)." It has also been described by Keeble and Loader as a "multidisciplinary field for the investigation and development of the social and cultural factors shaping the development and diffusion of new ITCs and its effects upon community development, regeneration, and sustainability." In short, community informatics hopes to technologically update all communities internationally, bringing together places from inner city neighborhoods to institutions and improve any of the problems they might encounter.

Sarling and Tassel "Community Analysis: Research that Matters to North-Central Denver Community

Community Analysis: Research that matters to a north-central Denver community

What is community analysis?
Researching a community to get a better feel for what its members need and what would make their quality of life better
Define the "CARI" model. What are its four persepctives?
Community Analysis Research Institute

4 Perspectives
Characteristics of the individuals
The formal and informal groups they form
The agencies which serve and interact with them
Community lifestyles

Describe some of the many methodologies employed in the Denver research
First asked: "What do we want to know?"
Used maps of current libraries
Examined local newspapers, radios, community centers, and other social agencies

Who made up the three neighborhoods in the studies? How did walk - and drive - throughs illuminate information about the communities that could have been missed?
Three Neighborhoods
Walked and drove up and down every street and became familiar with every street so that when data was gathered it could be "placed" in the community.

What did researchers discover when they talked to representatives from the local school district?
Talked to local principle and school librarian
Problems with education in community
Denver still under court-ordered busing
Labyrinth of busing for children who didn't go to these community schools - not efficient
Neighborhood children not in same school for consistent amounts of time
Difficult for parents to be active in their child's schooling because of distance and convenience

List some recommendations made by the researchers upon completion of their study
Branch staff should get involved in the community by attending community meetings and social events, visiting the various community centers, and building positive relationships
Signage, both inside and outside the building, should be bilingual
Interior of the library should include several quiet spaces for children to do homework
Accessibility to computers with word processing and educational software

With whom did they share their study (attention: social capital)? Who requested a copy of their data?
To all interested parties
City Librarian
Library Commissioners
Director of Marketing
Director of Branches
Branch Manger
Each community leader interviewed during the investigation

Who is Pilar Castro-Reino? Why is she important?
The Outreach Librarian for the Valdez-Perry Branch of the Denver Public Library
She has become an integral part of the community which is something strongly recommended by this study

Saturday, February 21, 2009

midterm review- What is Content?

From the week 5 reading "Communities, Learning and Democracy in the Digital Age."

Question: "What if the build an Internet and no one came? In other words, once we have the first three Cs, what else is necessary to get the groups the authors identified into a participatory mode in an increasingly Internet-dependent society?"

As the author says: "Once individuals and communities become connected and have the capabilities and necessary skills to use the internet, they need a reason for use." In other words, once the three other Cs are taken care of, people need something to do on the internet in order to get them to actually use it. This content varies from person to person and from community to community a great deal. People that need to find jobs or homes will look on the internet if these services are provided, just like college kids will use the internet to study and to research for papers. Persons of ethnic minorities will not be able to use the internet if the websites they want to use are not in a language that they can speak or understand. Relevant content must be on the internet also, nobody will use the internet if all the information on it is out of date and useless. All these things must be present in the internet for people to get use out of it, content is the last but possibly the most important tool to bridge the digital divide we are currently facing.

What is the "problem of leisure"? Why is it a problem? When did it arise?

The problem of leisure is that "Americans have too much time on their hands (pg. 16)". This is seen as a problem because with too much extra time, Americans may lose sight of how to spend that free time wisely. This was first noted as a problem in the 1960s when various community groups were seeing a large increase in activity because citizens had more time to actively participate in these groups.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Social Capital" - Midterm Question

Social Capital: What is this? Can you define it?

According to Putnam, social capital refers to connections among individuals - social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them. It has both an individual and a collective aspect - a private face and a public face. Social capital calls attention to the fact that civic virtue is most powerful when embedded in a dense network of reciprocal social relations. It really means that our lives are made more productive by social ties, because social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups. The social capital theory suggests that social networks thus have great value and that well-connected communities are very important. Finally, it is important to note that social capital comes in all shapes and sizes. I think that it is basically just important to recognize that social capital has a major influence on everyone's lives and should therefore not be ignored.

- Posted by: Valerie Figlmiller
- Pages cited: pg. 18-20, Putnam - Bowling Alone

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Putnam - Social Interactions

To what does Putnam attribute the change in the social interactions of groups since the mid-20th century to now? Provide a few examples, both before and after.

The arrival of individualism and evolving technologies are what sparked the degradation of social capitol. Before this, individuals were faced with leisure and took up community activities in order to combat this; however, as technologies (that could be enjoyed alone) emerged, schedules started filling up, and people no longer felt compelled to better their community, the average American decided to turn inward. Society now worried more about themselves than what they could do for or how they could interact with those around them. Social capitol blossomed in the 1960's due to the increases in group activities and participation (like bridge clubs, bowling leagues, and community outreach programs) but waned as the decades went on because people were discovering new ways to enjoy themselves on their own. (Pg 25, Bowling Alone)

"Race & Place" Midterm Question

Describe Hall's childhood local library, the "yellow palace." What where it's features/barriers? Where was it located within the community? (pp.30-2)

The "yellow palace" had limited features compared to the "white cathedral," with only two areas for reading, "each no larger than [her] grandparents' sitting room." Also, it had "'early closing hours'" compared to the "white cathedral". In the community, it was located in an area that "became synonymous with poverty and dysfunction," causing there to be "Anti-theft bars" that "covered every possible point of entry," and being in a bad neighborhood may be some of the reasons it did not have as many features as the "white cathedral" did.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

MIS: North Central Denver Community

"Because the Census Bureau considers Hispanic to be an ethnic origin rather 

than a racial category (at least in 1990), it is necessary to consider both race and 

ethnicity to see the full picture of diversity in the community. In the 1990 Census, 

70.3% of the population reported that they are of Hispanic origin. Comparing this 

to the racial data, it appears that many persons of Hispanic origin chose either 

“Other” or “White” as their race, as these categories account for most of the popu- 


-I found this quote to be interesting because it seems that the census bureau's categorizing of race is outdated. In considering that census bureau data about race in a community is used to understand the real diversity of the community, it seems that the incorporation of an Hispanic category would be extremely important, especially since such a large percentage of the population is hispanic. Also, although I'm sure that hispanic is technically and ethnic origin rather then a race as the Census Bureau describes, if this is the case it is important to collect data on the ethnic origin of citizens in a community to obtain a truly accurate representation of the diversity or lack there of.

MIS for this week since I missed last week...

I missed discussion last week because something came up, but Sarah suggested that I posted an MIS for this week to make up for it -
My MIS comes from the "Community Analysis" article on page 21: "Since there are many other facilities in the community with meeting rooms, this traditional component of a branch could be eliminated in favor of an area where families could come together."

I found this, along with all the other suggestions made by the group, to be very interesting.  When thinking of libraries, I feel that community rooms are always a big part; however, I think in this particular community, a room for families to gather is much more important since they have community meeting rooms elsewhere.  It is a new concept, at least for me to think of when it comes to libraries, but I think it really brings up the valid and important idea that family meeting rooms are extremely important in communities with large families, but smaller homes.  This is a new dimension of a library that I think could be used across the country to help bring not just the adults in families together, but everyone in the families together.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Library <=> Community (MIS)

I believe the personal account "Race and Place" by Traci Hall gave me a better perception about the role of a library in a community. To be truthful, I have never thought of a library as anything more than a tax-funded outlet for books and information. Through the class readings however, I am beginning to see the library as a representative for the community as a whole. My MIS for this reading was, "Libraries offer the greatest hope for social reconciliation we have today." With this, it seems as if she is setting a load of responsibility on the shoulder's of this nations library system. Because they play such an important role in defining and bringing together the community to which they lie in, they appear crucial to the social integrity of those within the community.

MIS- Race and Place

"Our rationalizations and policies do not ride the bus, We do. ... We want to believe that libraries are politically neutral and colorblind. To sustain this belief, we close our eyes as we steer. But who gets run over in the process."

I liked this sentence because I think it really emphasized the real obligation that librarians and library staff have to maintain the equality and integrity of individual libraries which hold such importance in many people's lives. I really like the metaphor that he uses, which shows that those who work in the field that do not actively attempt to correct injustices within the system are no more morally reprehensible than those that actively support them. 


My most interesting sentance from the readings is in "Better Together". It is stating that one of a citizen's first acts in their new community is to get a library card. It says, "They can get one even if they do not speak English, and they do not have to prove anything except that they live in Chicago." This sentance isn't very broad and may not jump out to most people who read this article, but it is interesting to me because I appreciate that anybody has the right to visit and utilize this Chicago library. I think it is a perfect resource for those they mention that do not speak English to learn the language and to hopefully make thier new strange community seem more inviting.


From "Better Together" I chose the quote: "In the six years since the Near North Branch opened, the area around it has changed... The liquor store is gone... replaced by a garden. A nearby park has been renovated. A new high school opened... Condominiums are going up... and a new Dominick's supermarket." I chose this quote because it really shocked me as to how much a building can change, not just its surroundings, but its community as well. Not only did it replace the "empty lots" with gardens and such, but it became a place where two different communities, who never had contact before, can come together. Yet as the years pass, the area is slowly becoming more middle class. Meaning that less adults from the Cabrini Green area are coming to the library. 

MIS - Race & Place

“Yellow places and white cathedrals exist because

we who work in libraries create them as well as the distances

between them. We want to believe that libraries are

politically neutral and colorblind. To sustain this belief

we close our eyes as we steer.”

This is an interesting comment because it is unlikely that those who work in libraries are the primary decision makers. The article makes no mention of financial issues! Libraries need money to look nice and be resourceful. Taxpayers are wealthier around the jurisdiction of the “white cathedral” than that of the yellow library, so it would not be surprising if the cathedral receives more tax funding. Donors are another important source of funding. These kind people with money to spare are probably only kind enough to donate to the branch that they use.

The article says that the neighborhood around the yellow branch is run down, with graffiti and other slum attributes. Shouldn't it make sense that the library match the neighborhood? Anything greater would be a clear and blatant plunder of taxpayers.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

MIS #1

I chose a quote from the article "Better Together," on pg 41: "In the six years since the Near North Branch opened, the area around it has changed...Condominiums are going up on what had been empty lots, and a new Dominick's supermarket across the street from the library draws customers from both neighborhoods."

I chose this quote because my sister lives about 2 minutes away from the Near North Branch and actually shops at the Dominick's mentioned.  She lives right off of Division St, in what I guess is considered the Cabrini Green area.  She and her husband moved there about 5 years ago, and it has been truly amazing to see the changes that have gone on around their townhouse.  There used to be empty warehouses and abandoned buildings across the street from their "neighborhood," but in 5 years, the old buildings have been torn down and new ones have been constructed and made the area much more attractive.  It was interesting reading in the article about how it has been mentioned how the Gold Coast is starting to creep into the edges of the Cabrini Green area.  I can definitely see this occurring every time I visit them as the area around her house is increasingly updated. 

MIS- Better Together

"This is one of the ironies of investing in social capital that we will see in some other stories, too: improvements that help bring members of a community together sometimes also disrupt or sever old ties."

My MIS is from Better Together. This stuck out to me because we have spent a lot of time discussing the benefits of libraries, but this was the first time we have really seen a negative reaction to a library. This addresses the Cabrini Green neighborhood in Chicago, which is a severely poverty-stricken area. Although the new library in this area has provided a lot of community and educational benefits to the neighborhood, it has also been part of a renovation of the entire area. While this is beneficial to the well-being of the run-down community, it has caused several of the Cabrini Green inhabitants to relocate away from their families and everything that they know because the neighborhood is becoming unaffordable. These unfortunate relocations of Cabrini Green tenants caused by the recent urban renewal projects is leading to a more middle class area. One unlucky resident reported, "As soon as it gets nice here, we all have to go." While the library continues to give back a sense of community to the neighborhood, it is also beginning to disrupt the community that has existed there for so long. 

MIS Number One

My MIS comes from "Race & Place" on page 31 - the whole paragraph which starts off with "My grandfather had to be shown where to place his jagged signature on my school forms. My grandmother relied on her children and grandchildren to "read her bills." I didn't know anything about literacy rates or segregated schools back then. I just knew that my non-driving-grandmother..."

I chose this passage mainly because as I read it, there was a sense of nostalgia on my behalf. I could completely relate to the author and her childhoood admiration for the public library, or as she knew it to be the yellow palace. Furthermore, I assumed the lack of education her grandparents recieved were equivalent to my grandparents' level as well. Yet my grandmother, like Hall's, put forth effort and support in my need for higher education. She did not take me to play grounds, but the library was its parallel in which I could excite myself around books: learning and playing all at the same time. I, like Hall, grew up to work in a library as well. For two years throughout highschool I served as a 2nd floor reference pager. And when finishing the article, I believe the Rochester Public Library I worked at was a white cathedral for my fellow co-workers and I created the environment that way. Did we run anyone over in the process of closing our eyes and steering? No although I wasn't 100% certain on my answer.

MIS- Better Together

My MIS was from Better Together and is on what I would guess is page 36. "The Near North Branch sits between two very different neighborhoods. The Gold Coast is...wealthy and mainly white.... The mostly African-American Cabrini Green to the west has been known for its grim, high-rise public housing...and run-down schools. Members of both communities use the library..." I picked these couple sentences because I am from Chicago and was surprised by the location of the library. In class we have heard about how libraries differ from rich to poor communities, but at the Near North Branch two extremely different communities come together and interact because of the library. Bringing these cultures together allows everyone to share and hear the ideas and differences between each other.


From Page 45 of Better Together:
"Clark says that the first public act of many newcomers in the city is to get a library card. It is the first official document that connects them to their new home, that makes them part of the place. They can get one even if they do not speak English, and they do not have to prove anything except that they live in Chicago. Mary Dempsey describes the library as 'the least threatening institution.'"

This is a nice idea but to me it seems antiquated, and is probably not still true today. The internet as an access point to information has made the library almost unnecessary in todays society, as its ability to store physical document is not needed because it has been replaced by the internets ability to store them virtually.
The question then becomes what has taken the libraries place as a non-threatening government institution and the answer I think is nothing. Immigrants and the poor have been scapegoated to an extent and our now the oppressed in our society, notice that when talking about the Auto manufacturers struggles, attention is placed on foreign competition and the autoworkers union as nefarious things rather than introspectively look at what has got them in this bind, but thats a whole different topic. Still the governments relationship with many is adversarial, and it would be nice for some other thing that allows people to feel apart of their community and the country as a whole.

MIS and Post #1

"No longer a passive repository of books and information or an outpost of culture, quiet and decorum ina noisy world, the new library is an active and responsive part of the community and an agent of change" (Better Together article, p.35).
I chose the above passage as my MIS because it illustrated the dynamic nature of the public library and how it actively interacts with the community. By understanding the dynamity of libraries, it is possible to understand how libraries can reflect the community, either by reinforcing socioeconomic differences, or in bridging the community together by offering serivces that appeal to all people in the community and reflecting the needs and culture of the particular area. Libraries can be powerful agents of change in the community when they encourage social capital by bringing people of different ethnic groups or classes together and welcoming diversity. Types and amounts of information and their availability all affect the success of the library in bridging the community. Seeing the public library as a dynamic influence in neighborhoods creates a need to understand how libraries can best reflect their communities, and how access to the information libraries provide affects the members of the community.

Better Together MIS

My MIS comes from our reading, Better Together. It can be found on page 42 right at the top. It goes like this, "In a community liek Cabrini Green, starting with a library sends a very different and much more positive message than starting with a police station".

I chose this for my MIS because it's such an interesting concept to me. Rather than telling the community you don't trust them and they are so out of hand that they need another police station, you put in a library. Telling them that you do trust them and that you have faith in that community. Giving them a library gives the impression that someone out there cares about them and that you believe they only need the access to more resources to bring more success. A library is another form of education, so what an excellent way to bring more education to a community that is struggling with their educational system.