As it’s National Library Week, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the things that unite us. Library education is meant to launch all of us into successful careers in the information world, and to provide a foundation upon which we can build.
Certainly, we are not rubber-stamped automata with identical skill sets. Our interests and electives can and do vary a great deal from student to student, from librarian to librarian. Still, something I have noticed in conversations with librarians and library students is a lack of common readings. We do not seem to have a central “canon,” as such, and while our field may be constantly influenced by related disciplines, librarianship has a long history of thought that we could all benefit by reading. Rather than make up an “authoritative list” on my own, though, I wanted to bring in as many perspectives as possible. I hope that this post will prompt a conversation, and later perhaps prompt action as curricula are redesigned throughout the country.
Three nominations, to get you started:
What Is a Document? & Information as Thing, both by Michael Buckland.
I’ve heard a number of times that graduate school is about changing a worldview. These eye-opening essays by Buckland contributed a great deal to my own worldview-changing, and they were also some of the most-recommended texts when I was starting library school.
As We May Think, by Vannevar Bush
This article is from 1945, and it lays the groundwork for a great deal of thinking about the way information retrieval may work in the future. It’s been cited as one of the influences in the design of the internet, and is worth a read to provide some historical information-science perspective.
A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks, by E.F. Codd
The paper that founded the school of thought on relational databases. While the math may be overly-detailed, skimming it is certainly worth your time if you work with the digital side of information.
So here is your assignment: What, in your readings, in your classwork and research, should be read by everyone looking to become a librarian? What should we share? Sound off in the comments!