deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
It's odd to pull up your blogs in the morning and see your own name, you introducing yourself, at the top of the list.

Gender and Fan Culture, Round 16, Part One: Deborah Kaplan and Alan McKee, over at Henry Jenkins' place.

The generosity of Henry for making these conversations possible, the drive of Kristina Busse for rounding us all up and making this happen, and Alan McKee's all-around wonderfully funny smarts have made this entire experience a thoroughgoing pleasure. As an independent scholar, I get far too little opportunity to interact with others in media and fan studies outside of the sometimes stultifying atmosphere of conferences; this has been really a great experience for me.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I've been far too overwhelmed to post here recently, or even to read my blogs, and for that I feel immensely guilty. I've been doing so much: getting settled in my new job at Tufts Digital Collections and Archives, working on my research on romance fiction, working (far too little) on the project I'm doing with Rebecca Rabinowitz on subversive children's literature.

I've also been talking with Alan McKee in preparation for our installation of Henry Jenkins' fangirl/fanboy detente. That has been an absolute joy. It's so wonderful whenever you find another scholar who delights in examining the same kinds of questions that you do. Both of us have found such pleasure in talking about media fandom, and I confess it has been from both a scholarly perspective and a fan perspective. This, of course, is the most wonderful part about being an acafan; the shameless delight in the subjects of our study.

I wonder how much further I would have gotten in children's literature scholarship if the academic blogging community had existed 10 years ago. Would I have made further inroads there? I've made such friends in media and fan scholarship, real genuine friends, people I love and care for -- and I suspect I will be making similar friends in romance scholarship, based on what I've seen of that community. As an independent scholar, it is so discouraging to have no infrastructure for my fields of study. And it's not like I'm not busy, it's not like I'm not doing this scholarship in my spare time after work and dinner and gardening and feeding the cats. If it weren't for the social network of wonderful people who share my interests, I don't know if I would be able to keep it up.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Now I follow up that librarianship entry with one on scholarship, just to keep the readers of my infrequent posts hopping.

You may remember that recently I blogged about the gender issues which were raised after Media in Transition. I've been invited to participate in Henry Jenkins' fanboy/fangirl détente. I'm very pleased by the opportunity to contribute to the conversation. In the original version of this post I was also going to say how honored I am that as an independent scholar at been asked to contribute, but the thought-provoking first installment of the conversation in Henry's blog, this one between Karen Hellekson and Jason Mittell, has raised some interesting questions about the gender divide in the academic hierarchy. As Jason said,

I would hope that within media studies, the gender divides would be less structuring than in older & grayer fields, but there's no doubt that divisions between tenure-track and adjunct, affiliated and independent scholars are gendered across the board. Even perusing the lists of Henry's invitees for this forum suggests that more women are in less traditional academic roles.


Anyway, I' be writing in September with Alan McKee from the Queensland University of Technology. Right now I'm delving into his work to learn more about it. I have to admit that one of the very nice side benefit of this whole conversation is that it's giving me the impetus to read the work of some scholars that I have sadly neglected. Of course, to a certain extent, that's not a side benefit, that's the point of the entire exercise: encouraging communication across whatever gender boundary may or may not exist.

(Although Karen and Jason have started the first round of official conversation, I suspect that side conversations will be springing up all over the place as this project heats up. Kristina Busse and Will Brooker have already started a preliminary conversation online).
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I'd really like to say something intelligent about the conversation which started after Media in Transition 5 about acafen and gender, but for two things: First of all, I only attended one panel at the conference, so I'm not sure I can speak informatively about anything other than my greater experiences as a scholar and as an acafan. And secondly, I just took another look at the pile of books I need to review tonight, and that is genuine professional obligations, to which blogging will have to take a backseat. So for now, I am going to link to some of the blogs which are making really fascinating points in this discussion. It's worth reading not only the blog posts but the comment threads, in which people who fundamentally disagree are having really worthwhile conversations with some valuable give and take.

So go take a look at Kristina Busse, especially her MiT5 Review, which has some fascinating discussions in the comment section. Karen Hellekson doesn't delve as much into the issues which concern Kristina, but she gives a good conference report of the panels about which Kristina is concerned with their gender makeup. Louisa Stein, who was unable to attend the conference, speculates that the paper she was intending to present would have spoken to many of these issues.

Also, as I've chosen to keep my professional and scholarly blog identity within livejournal, I should certainly not neglect those others who have done the same thing. [livejournal.com profile] heyiya responded to Kristina with her post Fandom, gender, and knowledge. [livejournal.com profile] robin_anne_reid asks people to discuss their experiences in fan scholarship as pertain to gender, and also links to Ron Robinson's comment in Henry Jenkins' blog about the absence of scholars of color at MiT5.

The only thing I have to add to the conversation that won't take more thought than I have time for right now is that fan scholarship has far and away been the most supportive scholarly community I have ever been a part of. Never before has the editor of a volume spent uncountable hours on long-distance calls with me fine-tuning my contributed paper far beyond the requests and suggestions made by the anonymous peer reviewers. Never before I entered fan scholarship have a number of other scholars called or e-mailed me to say "that point you made last week was excellent; you have to come to this conference and join a panel with me." I don't know if I would call that gendered -- children's literature scholarship is heavily female, and I certainly never felt so encouraged and mentored by that community -- but it is certainly an overwhelmingly positive experience for me.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
If you believe, as I do, that there is a crisis in library education that threatens the very existence of libraries and librarianship, you are likely to draw a negative reaction from a variety of people. First, there are the millenniarist librarians and pseudo-librarians who, intoxicated with selfindulgence and technology, will dismiss you as a "Luddite" or worse. They and their yips and yawps can safely be left to their acronymic backwaters and the dubious delights of clicking and surfing. Then there are the increasing numbers of faculty in LIS schools who are, at best, indifferent to libraries and, at worst, hostile to libraries and theircontinuing mission. Their concerns are with "information science" and other topics that are marginal or irrelevant to the work of libraries.

Michael Gorman, our favorite bombast, in the May issue of American Libraries [pdf]

I know mocking Michael Gorman is so yesterday, but honestly, to be president of the primary library association and -- whether he agrees or disagrees with the broad spectrum of opinions his opponents hold -- to publicly brand everyone disagrees with him as "pseudo-librarians" with "yips and yawps", and to call everything labeled "information science" as "marginal or irrelevant to the work of libraries". Goodness.

Mr. Gorman, there is a crisis in library education. It's that while you can't see how core library knowledge and values can be compatible with technological and cultural changes, library schools are churning out unemployable graduates because your organization isn't doing anything to market professional librarianship to budget-strapped schools, towns, and universities.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I've finally given into the (in my mind, irrational) prejudice against livejournal as the host for professional blogs -- sort of. I've embedded this journal in its own address:
http://www.suberic.net/~deborah.kaplan/blog.shtml. That doesn't obfuscate its LJ-based origins (and why should it, she asks huffily, since LJ is such a good tool for the job?), because all links and comment pages go straight to livejournal. But it does give a non-LJ address for those blog-readers who'll be disinclined even to follow the links to a livejournal.com address -- and if my content isn't enough to keep 'em reading once they've realized my not so secret identity, then I'm not good enough writer to keep them, full stop. Feel free to use this address or the livejournal address if you're linking to me.

Far more usefully I've also added a link to the RSS feed for the blog.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Here's a question for y'all library-type folks:

What library blogs do you read?
What other library news sources do you follow on a regular basis?
Where do you contribute to the online library community?
Do you read
-- to learn information about libraries?
-- to get advice on running your library?
-- to learn more about building your career?
-- because you think of the people you read as your online buddies?
Do you contribute
-- because you have opinions of which you'd like to convince people?
-- to be helpful?
-- for networking / as a careeer move?
How do you find the library resources you read on a regular basis?
Do you think you're better at what you do because you keep on top of library blogs?
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Blake of Lisnews posted a list of things that Michael Gorman got right, namely:

1. Bloggers Ain’t Editors
2. Blogging is not always scholarly
3. We are boosters and hopeful
4. We do move too fast
5. Some of us are fanatical digitalists
4. We are quick to judge and criticize
5. Our writing tends to be short and emotional
6. Sometimes we only need random facts and paragraphs

(This is just his headings; read the entry for details).

But what comes out loud and clear in Blake's entry is what I think is wonderful about bloggers -- and why I think so many librarians blog. Bloggers, you see, can be excellent analyzers of information. Blake took Gorman's overly-defensive ramblings, parsed out what was valuable, and recreated it as a readable annotated list of things to notice. Many bloggers do the same thing with difficult-to-follow news stories.

You see, bloggers, like librarians, can be excellent at Internet collection development. That is, they see what's available, decide what will be most valuable to their readers, and make it available (usually, unlike other repackagers of information such as online newspapers, with direct links to whatever the source of the controversy actually is), and then provide annotations and explanations.

The substantial difference is that in most cases the blogger has an explicit bias and the librarian tries not to.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
One of my Legions of Loyal Readers suggested today that livejournal might be not the most professional place to host an online journal. I know that's not a unique opinion; I read the journals of several people who keep their professional blog elsewhere and their personal journals on livejournal. I can't help wondering why, though.

Sure, the average reported age of a livejournal user is 18, and livejournal certainly has a reputation as a haven for cranky high-schoolers, and secondarily as home of the fanfiction bloggers, and thirdly as whatever all the 141,000 Russians are blogging about. But livejournal has 2.6 million active accounts, 6.5 million total, and only 1.5 million who self-report as under twenty.[1] Surely plenty of the remainder are adults and professionals, some reasonable minority of whom are using livejournal for professional purposes.

More importantly, I'm a huge proponent of allowing people to use the tool that best suits their needs. Back when I was in IT, I always tried -- occasionally successfully -- to mediate the tool fights: "You, tech people! Stop insisting that Emacs is the correct text editor for the HR department when Notepad (or Pico, if they were on Solaris) will do! You, management! Stop insisting that the developers read their e-mail in Outlook!" It ought to be about letting people use the tool that best suits their needs and lets them get their jobs done most efficiently.

So, blogging: as a blogger, either you don't want to encourage discussions, or you do. If you don't, then what tool you uses doesn't matter much from a reader perspective. But in my opinion, discussions are nigh impossible to follow without threaded comments. Not too many of the major blog products allow threaded comments: livejournal does, and slashcode ([livejournal.com profile] slashdot, [livejournal.com profile] lisnews), and whatever [livejournal.com profile] dailykos uses. Most of the others provide long, nearly unreadable, unthreaded discussions (see [livejournal.com profile] makinglight for a heavily commented yet unthreaded blog). From my perspective, then, livejournal is an *excellent* choice for a professional blog. It's free to set up, provides the hardware and software, offers threaded discussions, an easy posting interface, and an RSS feed if I'm willing to pay a token for a paid account. Yet clearly there's still some bias against having professional identities here.

So those of you who share that bias, please, tell me why. Would it go away if I were to embed the lj in a webpage hosted elsewhere, so the livejournal.com was invisible from the URL? Or is it something inherent in the design of livejournal, or something else entirely I'm missing?
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Interesting little side-effect of becoming a librarian: I go off on Internet rants far less often (less often?, you ask, if you know me. Well, yes. You should see how I used to be). Partly this is because I'm busier with new and fascinating things to learn -- I hadn't realised how bored I'd become with tech until I was in a field that inspired me again. But primarily it's because I know feel the need not to spout random bs, at least in print, unless I support it with cited facts. A desire not to let the side down, as it were.
lengthy ramblings )
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