Introduction

I am moved by the story of the giant bell (the gong) ringing in the Dakk1 library in Denmark each time a baby is born. Dr. Stephens told us Information Community students about hearing the ringing when he visited the library. My daughter is about to turn 5, but it never phases me how the moment of her birth slowed down time, and all the pain and the chaos surrounding birthing in a hospital melted immediately: I woke up to life. It was as if a bell rang in that very moment, and I love the idea of a community that rings those reminders of new life.

The idea of a global community of librarians sharing information and creativity motivated me to take this class. I taught English and Social Justice subjects for college and high school levels for about 15 years prior to being a mother. I have decided to shift my career focus after the bell woke me up, so to speak. I always admired the librarians with whom I have collaborated for my classes both as a student and a teacher. Really, earning this masters has been a long time coming. I have a masters in English Literature from Fresno State, so my love of writing and literature seem to be a solid foundation into the LIS filed.

Despite my enthusiasm to be a librarian, I am challenged by the fast moving technology of libraries today. Dusty books and the sound of card catalogues opening fill my dreams of librarianship, yet these are so far away. Admittedly, I have trouble at times embracing the new culture of creation and design because I worry about the knowledge and information that can be lost to the creators and designers. This might seem far fetched, but my interest lies in the balanced trajectory of new library users and history. I want to find ways to connect with and share new and old. How can today’s community honor and learn from memory, and create?

Lending insight into my interest of this trajectory, I have worked as a teacher and practitioner in the world of oral history for many years. I have found that students of all ages who learn how to conduct, produce, and study oral history are transformed into more compassionate humans. I think technology can amplify unheard narratives and voices that have been marginalized in important ways for information communities to thrive in conscientious and caring ways of knowing and doing. (Here is a guide that I helped to create if you are interested in working with oral history.) I also find that in the overwhelming political and environmental information we face today, stories are one way to respond or advocate for more sustainable pathways forward. Hopefully, I can fold these interests into the hyperlinked library that we share in this course and beyond.

6 Thoughts.

  1. I love the idea of oral history. I like the libraries that offer the check out a person service, where you get to hear their stories. I love interviewing seniors to hear their stories. I hope that you write more about it here and can integrate it somehow into this class!

    • Thanks so much. I haven’t yet used oral history in the library setting (only in the classroom setting for high schoolers and workshops for educators), but I think it has so many applications for libraries and community building. Looking forward to future exchanges!

      • I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it or not, as I know that it’s held in various places, but the high school where I did my credential work holds a Human Library event each year. They invite human “books” to come and speak to students about their life experiences, and it is a wonderful way to merge oral history with library programming.

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