Department Blog

H/SS & Gov Info Services

British Library Sound Archive

December 23rd, 2010 by Michael Winter

Dan Goldstein just let me know about a remarkable new archive of recorded sound, music, and other materials recently made available by the British Library.  At the very least it should be of interest to scholars in anthropology, history,  the performing arts, and performance studies.  Its breadth is quite impressive.

Announcement: Digital Public Library of America

December 16th, 2010 by Adam Siegel

Another initiative: “We hope to emerge with a concrete workplan and a governance structure that represents the consensus of the country’s libraries, universities, archives and museums for moving forward together with a shared vision,” says Doron Weber, Vice President at the Sloan Foundation.

What is the threat to the library? CTheory Interview with Michael Ridley

December 15th, 2010 by David Michalski

“CTheory: What is the threat to the library? What is it that is the primary challenge facing the library as an institution? What could go wrong at this digital transition point?

Michael Ridley: The biggest threat to the library is indifference, of an attitude that is the library is no longer seen as valuable, that we no longer think that learning and growing and expanding and dealing with difference is critical. That there is another way of living your life, and it’s not the reflective or examined live. Really, libraries are children of the Enlightenment; we have that ethic behind us that knowing and developing is very important and that our past and ideas are important. If you move into an anti-intellectual age, one that no longer valued ideas and concepts and human freedom, then libraries would disappear because they wouldn’t matter so much any more. ”

CTheory Interview
Digital Inflections: Post-Literacy and the Age of Imagination

Michael Ridley in conversation with Christopher Parsons

Independent Scholars Debate Darnton

December 8th, 2010 by Adam Siegel

Robert Darnton’s latest dissection of Google and scholarship has elicited a wide-ranging discussion on the SHARP (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing) list. Interesting reading for those of us concerned with providing licensed-resource access to non-affiliated scholars.

Status-seeking in the Consumer Society

December 7th, 2010 by Michael Winter

Interesting piece in the web version of The Economist, about the form that status-seeking takes today. Although she is not mentioned, it’s difficult for those who know of her work not to think of Boston University economic sociologist Juliet Schor’s studies (e.g Born to Shop) as part of the backdrop.

Cultural Studies Scholar Exposes the Power of Search Engines to Shape Knowledge

December 2nd, 2010 by David Michalski

José van Dijck, Professor of Media and Culture at the University of Amsterdam and current the Dean of
Humanities at that University has recently published an interesting article on the role of search engines, such as Google Scholar, in the production of knowledge. See…

José van Dijck (2010) Search engines and the production of academic knowledge. International Journal of Cultural Studies. v13 n6 574-592.

In the current information environment Van Dijck argues the “task of educating students in information literacy cannot be limited to library and teaching professionals only. Instead, this should be the responsibility of all academics concerned with public values related to the production of knowledge.” (587)

She proposes an expansion of the concept of information literacy, arguing that researchers today need to be aware of the economic, political and socio-cultural dimensions of search engines. “Proprietary search engines” she contends

substantially shape the road from raw data to scholarly knowledge, while rendering essential processes of weighing, evaluating and contextualizing data into black boxes. To turn information into knowledge, students not only need to be socialized into the various stages of the process, but they should also be enabled to critically analyse the tools that help to construct knowledge. (588)

The more vividly search engines and catalogs produce a semblance of disintermediation, it seems, the more important it is for educators to lay bare the forces mediating that semblance.