[LA] Information Studies Seminar: Natalie Cole on June 10th

Agent Smiley (smiley_777@hotmail.com)
Thu, 27 May 1999 13:04:49 PDT

Please forward this announcement to anyone who might be interested.

The UCLA Information Studies Seminar presents

Natalie Cole
UCLA Department of Information Studies


Sex, Drugs and Librarianship: Intellectual Freedom and
Stock Management in the British Public Library

In the UK, intellectual freedom is not a popular area of research or
debate.  Few studies have looked at the extent to which intellectual
freedom or censorship are practised by public librarians; even
fewer have examined librarians attitudes towards these concepts.
Correspondingly, this subject is rarely discussed formally at
professional gatherings or in the professional and academic press.
In recent years the most significant studies of intellectual freedom,
censorship and British public library stock management have been
Thompsons Censorship in public libraries in the United Kingdom during
the twentieth century (1975), Malleys Censorship in libraries (1990),
Attons Alternative literature (1996), and Currys The limits of
tolerance: censorship and intellectual freedom in public libraries
(1997).  Of these, only Currys comparative study of 30 British and
30 Canadian library directors comprises an original examination of
librarians attitudes towards stock management, intellectual freedom
and censorship.

In response to this paucity of data, between 1994 and 1998 I conducted
a study which, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative
data collection methods, examined (a) librarians, elected members, and
library users attitudes towards intellectual freedom and the public
library, and (b) the ways in which these attitudes affect library
stock management policy-making and practice in 6 British public
library authorities.

In my talk I will discuss the results of this study, focusing in
particular on the following findings.  Contrary to many of the
professional and legislative statements that have been formulated
in this area, most respondents do not believe that stock management
should be conducted in accordance with principles of intellectual
freedom.  Most respondents want a wide range of material to be made
available by the public library, but also want certain material (most
notably racist and misogynist material) not to be stocked.  They
also believe that, when making stock management decisions, librarians
should take into account the values of the local community and
council, and the potential effects on society of the content of the
material under consideration.

In practice, access to certain material through the public library
is restricted in accordance with these attitudes and also with
librarians personal tastes.  Librarians stock management decisions
are not informed either by a consistent philosophy of stock management
or (despite the keenness of elected members) by stock management
policies, but are made on a pragmatic basis.  The most consistent
aspect of stock management practice is the absence from the decision
making process of considerations of intellectual freedom.

In the light of these results, I will also discuss (a) the
contradiction between legislative and professional statements and
librarians attitudes and actions, (b) the role of the librarian and
the public library, and (c) the challenges faced by librarians when
providing public access to the Internet in their libraries.

Natalie Cole holds a BA (Hons) in English with Media Studies from the
University of Sussex, England (1989-1992); an MA in Librarianship from
the University of Sheffield, England (1993-1994) (for which she was
awarded the Dunn and Wilson prize for librarianship and information
management); and a PhD in Librarianship also from the University of
Sheffield (1994-1998).  Dr. Cole has worked in a public library and
three academic libraries in the UK, and as a lecturer at the Robert
Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland.  She is currently working
as a consultant for the Electronic Cafe in Santa Monica, developing
a cataloging schema that will facilitate access to the innovative
artistic and technological projects of the artists Kit Galloway and
Sherrie Rabinowitz.

Thursday, June 10th, 4:00pm - 6:00pm

GSE&IS Building, Room 111
(just west of the Research Library)

Everyone is invited.

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Questions or comments to Phil Agre <pagre@ucla.edu>.

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