It’s important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members’ interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. I’m going to tell you that libraries are important. I’m going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. I’m going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.
And I am biased, obviously and enormously: I’m an author, often an author of fiction. I write for children and for adults. For about 30 years I have been earning my living through my words, mostly by making things up and writing them down. It is obviously in my interest for people to read, for them to read fiction, for libraries and librarians to exist and help foster a love of reading and places in which reading can occur.
So I’m biased as a writer. But I am much, much more biased as a reader. And I am even more biased as a British citizen.
And I’m here giving this talk tonight, under the auspices of the Reading Agency: a charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. Which supports literacy programs, and libraries and individuals and nakedly and wantonly encourages the act of reading. Because, they tell us, everything changes when we read.
And it’s that change, and that act of reading that I’m here to talk about tonight. I want to talk about what reading does. What it’s good for.
I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons – a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth – how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldn’t read. And certainly couldn’t read for pleasure.
It’s not one to one: you can’t say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.
And I think some of those correlations, the simplest, come from something very simple. Literate people read fiction.
Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you’re on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.
The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.
I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children’s books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. I’ve seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was RL Stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy.
It’s tosh. It’s snobbery and it’s foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn’t hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.
Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian “improving” literature. You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.
We need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy. (Also, do not do what this author did when his 11-year-old daughter was into RL Stine, which is to go and get a copy of Stephen King’s Carrie, saying if you liked those you’ll love this! Holly read nothing but safe stories of settlers on prairies for the rest of her teenage years, and still glares at me when Stephen King’s name is mentioned.)
And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed.
Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.
You’re also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And it’s this:
The world doesn’t have to be like this. Things can be different.
I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?
It’s simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.
Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.
And while we’re on the subject, I’d like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if it’s a bad thing. As if “escapist” fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in.
If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn’t you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with(and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.
As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.
Another way to destroy a child’s love of reading, of course, is to make sure there are no books of any kind around. And to give them nowhere to read those books. I was lucky. I had an excellent local library growing up. I had the kind of parents who could be persuaded to drop me off in the library on their way to work in summer holidays, and the kind of librarians who did not mind a small, unaccompanied boy heading back into the children’s library every morning and working his way through the card catalogue, looking for books with ghosts or magic or rockets in them, looking for vampires or detectives or witches or wonders. And when I had finished reading the children’s’ library I began on the adult books.
They were good librarians. They liked books and they liked the books being read. They taught me how to order books from other libraries on inter-library loans. They had no snobbery about anything I read. They just seemed to like that there was this wide-eyed little boy who loved to read, and would talk to me about the books I was reading, they would find me other books in a series, they would help. They treated me as another reader – nothing less or more – which meant they treated me with respect. I was not used to being treated with respect as an eight-year-old.
But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.
I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.
I think it has to do with nature of information. Information has value, and the right information has enormous value. For all of human history, we have lived in a time of information scarcity, and having the needed information was always important, and always worth something: when to plant crops, where to find things, maps and histories and stories – they were always good for a meal and company. Information was a valuable thing, and those who had it or could obtain it could charge for that service.
In the last few years, we’ve moved from an information-scarce economy to one driven by an information glut. According to Eric Schmidt of Google, every two days now the human race creates as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation until 2003. That’s about five exobytes of data a day, for those of you keeping score. The challenge becomes, not finding that scarce plant growing in the desert, but finding a specific plant growing in a jungle. We are going to need help navigating that information to find the thing we actually need.
Libraries are places that people go to for information. Books are only the tip of the information iceberg: they are there, and libraries can provide you freely and legally with books. More children are borrowing books from libraries than ever before – books of all kinds: paper and digital and audio. But libraries are also, for example, places that people, who may not have computers, who may not have internet connections, can go online without paying anything: hugely important when the way you find out about jobs, apply for jobs or apply for benefits is increasingly migrating exclusively online. Librarians can help these people navigate that world.
I do not believe that all books will or should migrate onto screens: as Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, more than 20 years before the Kindle turned up, a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is. Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar-operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them. They belong in libraries, just as libraries have already become places you can go to get access to ebooks, and audiobooks and DVDs and web content.
A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it. That includes health information. And mental health information. It’s a community space. It’s a place of safety, a haven from the world. It’s a place with librarians in it. What the libraries of the future will be like is something we should be imagining now.
Literacy is more important than ever it was, in this world of text and email, a world of written information. We need to read and write, we need global citizens who can read comfortably, comprehend what they are reading, understand nuance, and make themselves understood.
Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open.
According to a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, England is the “only country where the oldest age group has higher proficiency in both literacy and numeracy than the youngest group, after other factors, such as gender, socio-economic backgrounds and type of occupations are taken into account”.
Or to put it another way, our children and our grandchildren are less literate and less numerate than we are. They are less able to navigate the world, to understand it to solve problems. They can be more easily lied to and misled, will be less able to change the world in which they find themselves, be less employable. All of these things. And as a country, England will fall behind other developed nations because it will lack a skilled workforce.
Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.
I think we have responsibilities to the future. Responsibilities and obligations to children, to the adults those children will become, to the world they will find themselves inhabiting. All of us – as readers, as writers, as citizens – have obligations. I thought I’d try and spell out some of these obligations here.
I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.
We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.
We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.
We have an obligation to use the language. To push ourselves: to find out what words mean and how to deploy them, to communicate clearly, to say what we mean. We must not to attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meanings and pronunciations to change with time.
We writers – and especially writers for children, but all writers – have an obligation to our readers: it’s the obligation to write true things, especially important when we are creating tales of people who do not exist in places that never were – to understand that truth is not in what happens but what it tells us about who we are. Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all. We have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages. One of the best cures for a reluctant reader, after all, is a tale they cannot stop themselves from reading. And while we must tell our readers true things and give them weapons and give them armour and pass on whatever wisdom we have gleaned from our short stay on this green world, we have an obligation not to preach, not to lecture, not to force predigested morals and messages down our readers’ throats like adult birds feeding their babies pre-masticated maggots; and we have an obligation never, ever, under any circumstances, to write anything for children that we would not want to read ourselves.
We have an obligation to understand and to acknowledge that as writers for children we are doing important work, because if we mess it up and write dull books that turn children away from reading and from books, we ‘ve lessened our own future and diminished theirs.
We all – adults and children, writers and readers – have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.
Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I’m going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It’s this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point, imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair. Someone had to imagine a way that I could talk to you in London right now without us all getting rained on.This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city, exist because, over and over and over, people imagined things.
We have an obligation to make things beautiful. Not to leave the world uglier than we found it, not to empty the oceans, not to leave our problems for the next generation. We have an obligation to clean up after ourselves, and not leave our children with a world we’ve shortsightedly messed up, shortchanged, and crippled.
We have an obligation to tell our politicians what we want, to vote against politicians of whatever party who do not understand the value of reading in creating worthwhile citizens, who do not want to act to preserve and protect knowledge and encourage literacy. This is not a matter of party politics. This is a matter of common humanity.
Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. “If you want your children to be intelligent,” he said, “read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” He understood the value of reading, and of imagining. I hope we can give our children a world in which they will read, and be read to, and imagine, and understand.
• This is an edited version of Neil Gaiman’s lecture for the Reading Agency, delivered on Monday October 14 at the Barbican in London. The Reading Agency’s annual lecture series was initiated in 2012 as a platform for leading writers and thinkers to share original, challenging ideas about reading and libraries.
Library science (often termed library studies, library and information science, bibliothecography, library economy) is an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary field that applies the practices, perspectives, and tools of management, information technology, education, and other areas to libraries; the collection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information resources; and the political economy of information. Martin Schrettinger, a Bavarian librarian, coined the discipline within his work (1808–1828) Versuch eines vollständigen Lehrbuchs der Bibliothek-Wissenschaft oder Anleitung zur vollkommenen Geschäftsführung eines Bibliothekars. Rather than classifying information based on nature-oriented elements, as was previously done in his Bavarian library, Schrettinger organized books in alphabetical order. The first American school for library science was founded by Melvil Dewey at Columbia University in 1887.
Historically, library science has also included archival science. This includes how information resources are organized to serve the needs of select user groups, how people interact with classification systems and technology, how information is acquired, evaluated and applied by people in and outside libraries as well as cross-culturally, how people are trained and educated for careers in libraries, the ethics that guide library service and organization, the legal status of libraries and information resources, and the applied science of computer technology used in documentation and records management.
There is no generally agreed-upon distinction between the terms library science, librarianship, and library and information science, and to a certain extent they are interchangeable, perhaps differing most significantly in connotation. The term library and information science (LIS) is most often used; most librarians consider it as only a terminological variation, intended to emphasize the scientific and technical foundations of the subject and its relationship with information science. LIS should not be confused with information theory, the mathematical study of the concept of information. Library and information science can also be seen as an integration of the two fields of library science and information science. Library philosophy has been contrasted with library science as the study of the aims and justifications of librarianship as opposed to the development and refinement of techniques.
The earliest text on library operations, Advice on Establishing a Library was published in 1627 by French librarian and scholar Gabriel Naudé. Naudé wrote prolifically, producing works on many subjects including politics, religion, history, and the supernatural. He put into practice all the ideas put forth in Advice when given the opportunity to build and maintain the library of Cardinal Jules Mazarin.
Martin Schrettinger wrote the second textbook (the first in Germany) on the subject from 1808 to 1829.
Thomas Jefferson, whose library at Monticello consisted of thousands of books, devised a classification system inspired by the Baconian method, which grouped books more or less by subject rather than alphabetically, as it was previously done.
The Jefferson collection provided the start of what became the Library of Congress.
The first American school of librarianship opened at Columbia University under the leadership of Melvil Dewey, noted for his 1876 decimal classification, on 5 January 1887 as the School of Library Economy. The term library economy was common in the U.S. until 1942, with the library science predominant through much of the 20th century.
Later, the term was used in the title of S. R. Ranganathan's The Five Laws of Library Science, published in 1931, and in the title of Lee Pierce Butler's 1933 book, An introduction to library science (University of Chicago Press).
S. R. Ranganathan conceived the five laws of library science and the development of the first major analytico-synthetic classification system, the colon classification. In India, he is considered to be the father of library science, documentation, and information science and is widely known throughout the rest of the world for his fundamental thinking in the field.
In the United States, Lee Pierce Butler's new approach advocated research using quantitative methods and ideas in the social sciences with the aim of using librarianship to address society's information needs. He was one of the first faculty at the University of Chicago Graduate Library School, which changed the structure and focus of education for librarianship in the twentieth century. This research agenda went against the more procedure-based approach of "library economy," which was mostly confined to practical problems in the administration of libraries.
William Stetson Merrill's A Code for Classifiers, released in several editions from 1914 to 1939, is an example of a more pragmatic approach, where arguments stemming from in-depth knowledge about each field of study are employed to recommend a system of classification. While Ranganathan's approach was philosophical it was also tied more to the day-to-day business of running a library. A reworking of Ranganathan's laws was published in 1995 which removes the constant references to books. Michael Gorman's Our Enduring Values: Librarianship in the 21st Century features his eight principles necessary by library professionals and incorporate knowledge and information in all their forms, allowing for digital information to be considered.
In more recent years, with the growth of digital technology, the field has been greatly influenced by information science concepts. In the English speaking world the term "library science" seems to have been used for the first time in India in the 1916 book Punjab Library Primer, written by Asa Don Dickinson and published by the University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. This university was the first in Asia to begin teaching "library science". The Punjab Library Primer was the first textbook on library science published in English anywhere in the world. The first textbook in the United States was the Manual of Library Economy, published in 1929. In 1923, C. C. Williamson, who was appointed by the Carnegie Corporation, published an assessment of library science education entitled "The Williamson Report," which designated that universities should provide library science training. This report had a significant impact on library science training and education. Library research and practical work, the area of information science, has remained largely distinct both in training and in research interests.
The digital age has transformed how information is accessed and retrieved. "The library is now a part of a complex and dynamic educational, recreational, and informational infrastructure." Mobile devices and applications with wireless networking, high-speed computers and networks, and the computing cloud have deeply impacted and developed information science and information services. The evolution of the library sciences maintains its mission of access equity and community space, as well as the new means for information retrieval called information literacy skills. All catalogues, databases, and a growing number of books are all available on the Internet. In addition, the expanding free access to open source journals and sources such as Wikipedia have fundamentally impacted how information is accessed. Information literacy is the ability to "determine the extent of information needed, access the needed information effectively and efficiently, evaluate information and its sources critically, incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base, use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose, and understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally."
Education and Training
Main article: Education for librarianship
Academic courses in library science include collection management, information systems and technology, research methods, information literacy, cataloging and classification, preservation, reference, statistics and management. Library science is constantly evolving, incorporating new topics like database management, information architecture and information management, among others. With the mounting acceptance of Wikipedia as a valued and reliable reference source, many libraries, museums and archives have introduced the role of Wikipedian in residence. As a result, some universities are including coursework relating to Wikipedia and Knowledge Management in their MLIS programs.
Most schools in US only offer a master's degree in library and information science or an MLIS and do not offer an undergraduate degree in the subject. About fifty schools have this graduate program, and seven are still being ranked. Many have online programs, which makes attending more convenient if the college is not in a student's immediate vicinity. According to US News' online journal, University of Illinois is at the top of the list of best MLIS programs provided by universities. Second is University of North Carolina and third is University of Washington. All the listings can be found here.
Most professional library jobs require a professional post-baccalaureate degree in library science, or one of its equivalent terms, library and information science as a basic credential. In the United States and Canada the certification usually comes from a master's degree granted by an ALA-accredited institution, so even non-scholarly librarians have an originally academic background. In the United Kingdom, however, there have been moves to broaden the entry requirements to professional library posts, such that qualifications in, or experience of, a number of other disciplines have become more acceptable. In Australia, a number of institutions offer degrees accepted by the ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association). Global standards of accreditation or certification in librarianship have yet to be developed.
In academic regalia in the United States, the color for library science is lemon.
Employment Outlook and Opportunities
According to 'U.S. News & World Report', library and information science ranked as one of the "Best Careers of 2008." The median annual salary for 2016 was reported by The Bureau of Labor Statistics as $57,680 USD in the United States, with additional salary breakdowns available by metropolitan area, with San Francisco coming in the highest with an average salary of $76,370. This is down by 430 USD from the median salaries in 2014 at $58,110 reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In December 2016, the BLS projected growth for the field at "9 percent between 2016 and 2026", which is "as fast as the average for all occupations". Furthermore, the BLS states, "Workers in this occupation tend to be older than workers in the rest of the economy. As a result, there may be more workers retiring from this occupation than other occupations. However, relatively large numbers of graduates from MLS programs may cause competition in some areas and for some jobs."
Gender and library science in the United States
See also: Timeline of women in library science and Timeline of women in library science in the United States
Librarianship manifests a dual career structure for men and women in the United States. While the ratio of female to male librarians remains roughly 4:1, top positions are more often held by men. In large academic libraries, there is less of a discrepancy; however, overall, throughout the profession, men tend to hold higher or leadership positions. Women, however, have made continuous progress toward equality. Women have also been largely left out of standard histories of U.S. librarianship, but Suzanne Hildenbrand's scholarly assessment of the work done by women has expanded the historical record. See also The Role of women in librarianship, 1876–1976: the entry, advancement, and struggle for equalization in one profession, by Kathleen Weibel, Kathleen de la Peña McCook, and Dianne J. Ellsworth (1979), Phoenix, Ariz: Oryx Press.
Gender equality and library leadership
There was a "Women's Meeting" at the 1882 14th American Libraries Conference, where issues concerning the salaries of women librarians and what female patrons do in reading rooms were discussed.
During the first 35 years of the American Library Association its presidency was held by men. In 1911 Theresa Elmendorf became the first woman elected president of the ALA. She was ALA president from May 24, 1911, until July 2, 1912.
In 1919, an ALA resolution promoting equal pay and opportunities for women in librarianship was defeated by a large margin.
In 1970, Betty Wilson brought forth a resolution that would have had the ALA refrain from using facilities that discriminate against women. That resolution was also defeated by the membership.
In 1977, the ALA took a stand for the Equal Rights Amendment. The organization stated that they would no longer hold conferences in states that did not ratify the amendment, with the boycott measure set to take place in 1981. An ERA Task Force was formed in 1979 towards this goal and a sum of $25,000 was allocated towards task force operations in unratified states. At the time, a number of state library associations passed pro-ERA resolutions and formed committees on women in libraries.
In 2013–2014, 82% of graduates in Master of Library Science (MLS) programs were female.
In 2016, Carla Hayden became the first female Librarian of Congress.
Professional association groups dedicated to librarianship and gender
There are multiple groups within the American Library Association, dedicated to discussing, critiquing, and furthering gender-related and feminist issues within the profession.
In 1969 the first women's rights task force was founded: the National Women's Liberation Front for Librarians (NWFFL or New-Waffle). It was also in 1969 that children's librarians, after being unable to find children's books that included working mothers, worked to remedy the situation and succeeded in their efforts.
The American Library Association's Social Responsibilities Round Table Feminist Task Force (FTF) was founded in 1970 by women who wished to address sexism in libraries and librarianship. FTF was the first ALA group to focus on women's issues. In recent years during Women's History Month (March), the FTF has dedicated their efforts to expanding women’s library history online, using the website Women of Library History. The FTF also publishes the annual Amelia Bloomer Project list, which includes some of the best feminist young adult literature of the year.
The Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship (COSWL) of the American Library Association, founded in 1976, represents the diversity of women's interest within ALA and ensures that the Association considers the rights of the majority (women) in the library field, and promotes and initiates the collection, analysis, dissemination, and coordination of information on the status of women in librarianship. The bibliographic history of women in U.S. librarianship and women librarians developing services for women has been well-documented in the series of publications initially issued by the Social Responsibilities Round Table Task Force on Women and later continued by COSWL.
The ALA also has the Women & Gender Studies Section (WGSS) of its Division "Association of College & Research Libraries"; this section was formed to discuss, promote, and support women's studies collections and services in academic and research libraries.
Finally, the ALA has the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Roundtable (GLBTRT). While the GLBTRT deals with sexuality, different than gender identity, much of the roundtable’s work is arguably feminist in nature, and concerned with issues of gender. The GLBTRT is committed to serving the information needs of the GLBT professional library community, and the GLBT information and access needs of individuals at large.
Library and information science scholarship relating to issues of gender
Many scholars within the profession have taken up gender and its relationship to the discipline of library and information science. Scholars like Hope A. Olson and Sanford Berman have directed efforts at the problematic nature of cataloging and classification standards and schemes that are obscuring or exclusionary to marginalized groups. Others have written about the implications of gendered stereotypes in librarianship, particularly as they relate to library instruction.Library instruction also intersects with feminist pedagogy, and scholars such as Maria Accardi have written about feminist pedagogical practices in libraries. Library scholars have also dealt with issues of gender and leadership, having equitable gender representation in library collection development, and issues of gender and young adult and children’s librarianship.
Library policies relating to issues of gender
The ALA Policy Manual states under B.2.1.15 Access to Library Resources and Services Regardless of Sex, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, or Sexual Orientation (Old Number 53.1.15): "The American Library Association stringently and unequivocally maintains that libraries and librarians have an obligation to resist efforts that systematically exclude materials dealing with any subject matter, including sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. The Association also encourages librarians to proactively support the First Amendment rights of all library users, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. Adopted 1993, amended 2000, 2004, 2008, 2010."  It also states under B.2.12 Threats to Library Materials Related to Sex, Gender Identity, or Sexual Orientation (Old Number 53.12), "The American Library Association supports the inclusion in library collections of materials that reflect the diversity of our society, including those related to sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression. ALA encourages all American Library Association chapters to take active stands against all legislative or other government attempts to proscribe materials related to sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression; and encourages all libraries to acquire and make available materials representative of all the people in our society. Adopted 2005, Amended 2009, 2010." 
Diversity in librarianship
See also: Libraries and the LGBTQ community
The field of library and information science seeks to provide a diverse working environment in libraries across the United States. Ways to change the status quo include diversifying the job field with regards to age, class, disabilities, ethnicity, gender identity, race, sex, and sexual orientation. The demographics of America are changing; those who were once minorities will become the majority. Library facilities can best represent their communities by hiring diverse staffs. The American Library Association and many libraries around the country realize the issue of diversity in the workplace and are addressing this problem.
The majority of librarians working in the U.S. are female, between the ages of 55–64, and Caucasian. A 2014 study by the American Library Association of research done from 2009 to 2010 shows that 98,273 of credentialed librarians were female while 20,393 were male. 15,335 of the total 111,666 were 35 and younger and only 6,222 were 65 or older. 104,393 were white; 6,160 African American, 3,260 American Pacific Islander; 185 Native American including Alaskan; 1,008 of two or more races, and 3,661 Latino. (ALA).
To help change the lack of diversity in library jobs in the U.S., more scholarships and grants are emerging. Most library and information science students do not belong to an underrepresented group and as a reaction to these research statistics, the field is creating ways to encourage more diversity in the classroom.
ALA Annual Research Diversity Grant Program
The ALA Annual Research Diversity Grant Program is a way to encourage innovation in scholars and professionals to provide insight into how to diversify the field. The ALA Grant is directed toward those who have valuable and original research ideas that can add to the knowledge of diversity in the field of Librarianship. The program awards up to three individuals once a year with a grant of $2,500 each. The applicants have submission guidelines, are given a timeline, and are shown the evaluation process online.
One way to nurture cultural diversity in the library field is with cultural competencies. Scholars recommend defining skills needed to serve and work with others who belong to different cultures. It is suggested that these definitions be posted in job listings and be referred to when promoting and giving raises. In library and information science graduate programs, it is also suggested by scholars that there is a lack of classes teaching students cultural competences. It is important for more classes to teach about diversity and measure the outcomes.
Another strategy is to create interest in the field of library and information science from a young age. If minorities do not desire to become librarians, they will not seek to obtain an MLS or MLIS and therefore will not fill high job roles in libraries. A recommended solutions are to create a great experience for all racial group's early on in life. This may inspire more young children to become interested in this field.
ALA Office for Diversity
The Office for Diversity is a sector of the American Library Association whose purpose is to aid libraries in providing a diverse workforce, gathering data, and teaching others about the issue of diversity related to the field of library and information science.
American Indian Library Association
The American Indian Library Association (AILA) was created in 1979. It publishes a newsletter twice a year and educates individuals and groups about Indian culture.
Black Caucus of the American Library Association
BCALA promotes not only library services that can be enjoyed by the African American community but also the emergence of African American librarians and library professionals. By joining the association, patrons have access to newsletters, the entirety of their website, and networking boards.
The Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) began March on 31, 1973. It was formerly known as the Mid-West Chinese American Librarians Association. It has members not only in America but in China, Hong Kong, Canada, and more. The organization promotes the Chinese culture through the outlet of libraries and communicates with others in the profession of librarianship.
Reforma is the national library association to promote library and information services to Latino and the Spanish speaking, created in 1971. The association has pushed for Spanish collections in libraries, gives out yearly scholarships, and sends out quarterly newsletters. One of Reforma's main goals is to recruit Latinos into professional positions of the library.
The Deaf Community and Library Science in the United States
Deaf people have the same needs as any other library visitors, and often have more difficulty accessing materials and services. Over the last few decades, libraries in the United States have begun to implement services and collections for D/deaf and HoH patrons and are working to make more of their collections, services, their communities, and even the world more accessible to this group of underserved people.
The history of the role of libraries in the Deaf community in the United States is a sordid one. The American Library Association readily admits that disabled people belong to a minority that is often overlooked and underrepresented by people in the library, and the Deaf community belongs in this minority group. However, in the last few decades, libraries across the United States have made great strides in the mission of making libraries more accessible to disabled people in general and to the Deaf community specifically. The Library Bill of Rights preamble states that "all libraries are forums for information and ideas" and as such libraries need to remove the physical and technological barriers which in turn would allow persons with disabilities full access to the resources available.
One notable American activist in the library community working toward accessibility for the deaf was Alice Lougee Hagemeyer.
Australian librarian Karen McQuigg stated in 2003 that "even ten years ago, when I was involved in a project looking at what public libraries could offer the deaf, it seemed as if the gap between the requirements of this group and what public libraries could offer was too great for public libraries to be able to serve them effectively." Clearly, not even so long ago, there was quite a dearth of information for or about the deaf community available in libraries across the nation and around the globe.
New guidelines from library organizations such as International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the ALA were written in order to help libraries make their information more accessible to people with disabilities, and in some cases, specifically the deaf community. IFLA's Guidelines for Library Services to Deaf People is one such set of guidelines, was published to inform libraries of the services that should be provided for deaf patrons. Most of the guidelines pertain to ensuring that deaf patrons have equal access to all available library services. Other guidelines include training library staff to provide services for the deaf community, availability of text telephones or TTYs not only to assist patrons with reference questions but also for making outside calls, using the most recent technology in order to communicate more effectively with deaf patrons, including closed captioning services for any television services, and developing a collection that would interest the members of the deaf community.
Over the years, library services have begun to evolve in order to accommodate the needs and desires of local deaf communities. There is now a Library Service to People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing Forum for libraries to look at to find out what they can do to better serve their Deaf/HoH users. At the Queen Borough Public Library (QBPL) in New York, the staff implemented new and innovative ideas in order to involve the community and library staff with the deaf people in their community. The QBPL hired a deaf librarian, Lori Stambler, to train the library staff about deaf culture, to teach sign language classes for family members and people who are involved with deaf people, and to teach literacy classes for deaf patrons. In working with the library, Stambler was able to help the community reach out to its deaf neighbors, and helped other deaf people become more active in their outside community.
The library at Gallaudet University, the only deaf liberal arts university in the United States, was founded in 1876. The library's collection has grown from a small number of reference books to the world's largest collection of deaf-related materials, with over 234,000 books and thousands of other materials in different formats. The collection is so large that the library had to create a hybrid classification system based on the Dewey Decimal Classification System in order to make cataloging and location within the library easier for both library staff and users. The library also houses the university's archives, which holds some of the oldest deaf-related books and documents in the world.
In Nashville, Tennessee, Sandy Cohen manages the Library Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (LSDHH). The program was created in 1979 in response to information accessibility issues for the deaf in the Nashville area. Originally, the only service provided was the news via a teletypewriter or TTY, but today, the program has expanded to serving the entire state of Tennessee by providing all different types of information and material on deafness, deaf culture, and information for family members of deaf people, as well as a historical and reference collection.
Theory and practice of library science
Many practicing librarians do not contribute to LIS scholarship, but focus on daily operations within their own libraries or library systems. Other practicing librarians, particularly in academic libraries, do perform original scholarly LIS research and contribute to the academic end of the field.
Whether or not individual professional librarians contribute to scholarly research and publication, many are involved with and contribute to the advancement of the profession and of library science and information science through local, state, regional, national and international library or information organizations.
Library science is very closely related to issues of knowledge organization; however, the latter is a broader term which covers how knowledge is represented and stored (computer science/linguistics), how it might be automatically processed (artificial intelligence), and how it is organized outside the library in global systems such as the internet. In addition, library science typically refers to a specific community engaged in managing holdings as they are found in university and government libraries, while knowledge organization in general refers to this and also to other communities (such as publishers) and other systems (such as the Internet). The library system is thus one socio-technical structure for knowledge organization.
The terms information organization and knowledge organization are often used synonymously.:106 The fundamentals of their study (particularly theory relating to indexing and classification) and many of the main tools used by the disciplines in modern times to provide access to digital resources (abstracting, metadata, resource description, systematic and alphabetic subject description, and terminology) originated in the 19th century and were developed, in part, to assist in making humanity's intellectual output accessible by recording, identifying, and providing bibliographic control of printed knowledge.:105
Information has been published which analyses the relations between philosophy of information (PI), library and information science (LIS), and social epistemology (SE).
Types of libraries
The study of librarianship for public libraries covers issues such as cataloging; collection development for a diverse community; information literacy; readers' advisory; community standards; public services-focused librarianship; serving a diverse community of adults, children, and teens; intellectual freedom; censorship; and legal and budgeting issues. The public library as a commons or public sphere based on the work of Jürgen Habermas has become a central metaphor in the 21st century.
Most people are familiar with municipal public libraries, but there are many different types of public libraries that exist. There are four different types of public libraries: association libraries, municipal public libraries, school district libraries and special district public libraries. It is very important to be able to distinguish between the four. Each receives its funding through different sources. Each is established by a different set of voters. And, not all are subject to municipal civil service governance. Listed below is a chart from the New York State Library's library development website. This chart lists all of the information about the different public libraries.
School library/media center
The study of school librarianship covers library services for children in schools through secondary school. In some regions, the local government may have stricter standards for the education and certification of school librarians (who are often considered a special case of teacher), than for other librarians, and the educational program will include those local criteria. School librarianship may also include issues of intellectual freedom, pedagogy, information literacy, and how to build a cooperative curriculum with the teaching staff.
The study of academic librarianship covers library services for colleges and universities. Issues of special importance to the field may include copyright; technology, digital libraries, and digital repositories; academic freedom; open access to scholarly works; as well as specialized knowledge of subject areas important to the institution and the relevant reference works. Librarians often divide focus individually as liaisons on particular schools within a college or university.
Some academic librarians are considered faculty, and hold similar academic ranks to those of professors, while others are not. In either case, the minimal qualification is a Master of Arts in Library Studies or Masters of Arts in Library and Information Science. Some academic libraries may only require a master's degree in a specific academic field or a related field, such as educational technology.
The study of archives includes the training of archivists, librarians specially trained to maintain and build archives of records intended for historical preservation. Special issues include physical preservation, conservation and restoration of materials and mass deacidification; specialist catalogs; solo work; access; and appraisal. Many archivists are also trained historians specializing in the period covered by the archive.
Special libraries and special librarians include almost any other form of librarianship, including those who serve in medical libraries (and hospitals or medical schools), corporations, news agencies, government organizations, or other special collections. The issues at these libraries are specific to the industries they inhabit, but may include solo work, corporate financing, specialized collection development, and extensive self-promotion to potential patrons. Special librarians have their own professional organization, the Special Library Association.
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is considered a special library. Its mission is to support, preserve, make accessible, and collaborate in the scholarly research and educational outreach activities of UCAR/NCAR.
Another is the Federal Bureau of Investigations Library. According to its website, "The FBI Library supports the FBI in its statutory mission to uphold the law through investigation of violations of federal criminal law; to protect the United States from foreign intelligence and terrorist activities; and to provide leadership and law enforcement assistance to federal, state, local, and international agencies.
Main article: Preservation (library and archival science)
Preservation librarians most often work in academic libraries. Their focus is on the management of preservation activities that seek to maintain access to content within books, manuscripts, archival materials, and other library resources. Examples of activities managed by preservation librarians include binding, conservation, digital and analog reformatting, digital preservation, and environmental monitoring.
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