Wednesday, September 22, 2010

-- Humor?

A colleague and friend just pointed this out to me: Look at the Library of Congress Subject Headings for a book by Ann Coulter. Let's take the book If Democrats had any brains they'd be Republicans. This classic (classy?) text has chapters entitled "Foreigners, or the 'non-soap oriented'" and "Guantanamo: room service, I'd like seventy-two virgins, please." So, what did the catalogers at the Library of Congress have to say about this book? Well the LCSH are:
Liberalism -- United States.
United States -- Politics and government -- 21st century.

Ok. Let's look at another Ann Coulter publication. How to talk to a liberal (if you must) : the world according to Ann Coulter. LCSH for this one?
Liberalism -- United States.
Mass media -- Political aspects -- United States.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1989-.

BTW - I'm taking these directly from the library catalog.

Now, for comparison's sake, let's look at Al Franken's book Lies : and the lying liars who tell them : a fair and balanced look at the Right. LCSH for this one?
Conservatism -- United States -- Humor.
Right and left (Political science) -- Humor.
Truthfulness and falsehood -- Political aspects -- United States -- Humor.
Rhetoric -- Political aspects -- United States -- Humor.
Mass media -- Political aspects -- United States -- Humor.
Political culture -- United States -- Humor.
Political satire, American.
United States -- Politics and government -- 2001-2009 -- Humor.

I'm not sure what to make of the LCSH for Michael Moore. His Dude, Where's My Country?
War on Terrorism, 2001-2009.
United States -- Politics and government -- 2001-2009.

But Moore's Stupid white men-- and other sorry excuses for the state of the nation! again has "Humor" as qualifier for the LCSH:
American wit and humor.
United States -- Politics and government -- 2001-2009 -- Humor.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1993-2001 -- Humor.
United States -- Social conditions -- 1980- -- Humor.

Is LC implying that Ann Coulter's books are some how more legitimate than Al Franken's? Or are they saying she's just not funny?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Format vs Content: Information Fluency

I used to teach a credit-bearing information literacy class in which we focused on format:
find a book
find a journal article
find a website

I got so tired of this "baby" way to present the information. I'd like to focus on CONTENT and have the students understand that the format is irrelevant. Professors who create assignments "Find 3 journal articles and one has to be in print or microfilm" always seem to me to just not get it. They make their students jump through unnecessary hoops. Who cares if the article is in print or online? What about journal articles that are reproduced as book chapters? Do those count under the "journal articles" header or the "book" category for those silly checklists? Why make the students focus on the format when content should really be what matters? Oh, yes, I have ranted about those professors and felt sorry for the students.

But now I'm struggling with how to get the students to understand that content can come in a variety of formats. If I don't tell them they have to find a book, a journal article, a newspaper article, a government document but let them choose the format, they won't explore the possible formats. I'm wondering if I need to go back to the "baby" method and then after they find a source in each artificial category, have them evaluate how each is different. I'm going to try this to see if the students can come up with the greater understanding through being obligated to touch different formats that content can come in a variety of formats and it is really the content that matters.

It frustrates me to revert back to an older way of teaching. It feels uninspired. I have this desire to break out of the box, be cutting edge and here I am going back to the basics.

Reclaiming my blog

Well it has been 4+ years since I have written anything for this blog. The previous posts are kind of irrelevant but since I like the name of the blog, I'm reclaiming it. I've stored all the previous posts as drafts in case I want to share them again at some point. For now, I'd like the clean slate.

I'll be talking about librarianship, the educational system, and whatever else comes to mind.