Postmodernism
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344 A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s postmoDernism mAp loCAtion F, 9 threAD loCAtion Page 27 sCApe Postmodernism Humanities a relevant area is a relevant area is Importance of Theory and Deep Concepts Author William Zayac Agreement DesCription Although experts in postmodern theory cannot agree on a strict definition of the term “postmodern,” many aspects of postmodernism appear in different cultures. As stated in the Mission Thread section of the Atlas, some postmodern thought may be recognized in the reference interview. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, two main roles in postmodernism are the “expert” and the “philosopher,” both of which serve roles within the reference interview . The expert knows both the breadth and limitations to his knowledge, while the philosopher learns what is known and must be gained through questioning.1 By seeking to better understand these roles, the librarian can become more comfortable and adept in the reference process and in the creation of searching tools and guidance tools. Understanding how people seek information is also integral to creating good cataloging and classification systems for its constantly changing users, especially considering the increasingly global community many large libraries now serve. Appropriately, the growing trend of postmodern thinking in overall academia are leading to further research and rethinking of traditional librarian tools. Postmodernism reinforces the idea of constant change and adaptation to increase knowledge in people and to improve the process by which people can gain access to appropriate information. As such, American librarians are looking into how they can better adapt systems of organization (such as the Dewey Decimal Classification system) and reference transactions to serve increasingly diverse patrons. Many academic libraries are beginning to form research help areas such as Bird Library’s Learning Commons at Syracuse University, where students may find guidance and help in learning to 1. Aylesworth, G. (2005, September 30). Postmodernism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/postmodernism. Figure 193 A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s 345 better search for and identify appropriate resources for projects. As the world changes, the reflective and adaptive nature of postmodern thinking encourages libraries to adapt to better serve their patron base. ConversAtion stArters • Where in the library can postmodernism most appropriately be applied? Are there good systems in place in certain facilities that may not benefit from “overanalysis”? In certain libraries or societies , many patrons may have adapted well enough to the current system that they could navigate it better than they would be able to with such a severe change. • How does one introduce postmodernism appropriately and accurately to “traditionalist” librarians? Might there be those, like a former English student, who are frightened by the very word? What kind of “cushioning” might one use to prevent fear? “Postmodernism ” is a broad concept and presents quite a few problems with definition and presentation. In fact, most of the Web sites I consulted to find a basic definition of the term were either too broad or were so full of philosophical jargon that they were difficult to understand. Most librarians may become confused if the concepts are not presented correctly. relAteD ArtiFACts Bodi, S., & Maier-O’Shea, K. (2005). The library of babel: Making sense of collection management in a postmodern world. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 31(2), 143–150. Annotation: Bodi and Maier-O’Shea explore the repercussions of postmodernism in the organization and management of academic library collections, from providing multiple access points to providing a more information-centered environment in libraries because of the changing culture of universities and colleges and the increased movement toward an experience-based management philosophy . When academic libraries shift toward postmodernism, should they still simply support the school’s curriculum or should these libraries also change toward the overall learning outcomes emphasized by the school (if the two differ)? Cullen, R. (1998). Measure for measure: A post-modern critique of performance measurement in libraries and information services. Proceedings from the IATUL ’1998: The 27th International Association of Scientific and Technological University Libraries Conference . The challenge to be relevant in the 21st century, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. Annotation: Cullen uses postmodern theory to analyze how most modern libraries perform assessments and deconstruct the traditional modes of assessment available to librarians, asking whether the “tried-and-true” methods of the past are providing enough accurate...



Subject Headings

  • Library science -- Philosophy.
  • Library science -- Forecasting.
  • Libraries and community.
  • Libraries and society.
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