February 20, 2008

Exhibition and some rhetorical questions

Posted in Updates tagged , , , , , at 10:59 am by maf

These questions for thought have occurred to me since our last class:

  • Kids as early as 4th grade are required to write persuasive essays.  This is challenging.  I ask: forget writing; can they read persuasive text, recognizing it as such, and evaluating its proposals?
  • Many AUPs you will find out there contain the statement: “Internet access is a privilege, not a right.”  This is standard accepted practice, and I certainly won’t mark it wrong.  However, is this still a fair statement?  Is it fair to withhold digital access from any person nowadays, when so much has moved online?  I don’t mean this in the sense of filtering, but in the broader sense of ubiquitous connectivity and social online life.
  • This is about filtering: do filters provide a false sense of security to children and parents? What happens when they access the Internet on an unfiltered terminal – do they carry their assumption of protection with them?

I’m not going to answer those questions – they are just for thought and discussion.

Now for some Exhibition business. Here are a few FAQs:

  • Q: “I have found many examples of my instructional material format.  Just how many am I supposed to bring?”   A: Provide a sampling.  You need not feel obligated to bring huge amounts of stuff.
  • Q: “Who did you say we should send our online materials to?” A: Lisa, ldelgado@uga.edu.
  • Q: “Where is the link to all the Exhibition topics?” A: Here.  Hint:  I index most resources like this on the 6340 Home Page and at the top of the Agenda.  If you’re looking for something and can’t find it there, then ask me to add it.

February 13, 2008

Bishop 13: Ethical issues and the collection

Posted in Bishop tagged , , , , at 9:07 am by maf

Here are my highlights and margin notes from reading this chapter.

In the introductory paragraphs, I highly agree with this statement:

“For some of the issues, there are definite legal and ethical guidelines, but in other instances there may be more than one acceptable opinion about an issue.”

This is another way of saying that things are gray and there may be no exact right or wrong answer.

Providing Access section:

  • Once again, this theme is one we will emphasize in Cataloging.
  • The section “Children’s Rights and Intellectual Freedom” is highly relevant to the Selection Policy-making process. She relates the First Amendment and clearly explains it, basing her discussion on authoritative analysis.
  • The Barriers section is eye-opening. Under Inequality of Access – if there are people out there that don’t believe in the simple fact that some schools are poorer than others, they should visit my daughter’s urban school, where there is still no paper and an utterly deaf child’s SST was finally processed last week (after a September referral).
  • On page 166, she explains more laws (acronyms again!) and their relationship to Internet filtering. She provides the essential elements of an AUP.
  • Copyright does not get much space here, which is understandable since you would need volumes to explain it. I hope you’ve picked up from me that I consider the area of copyright to be as ethically important as it is legally.

Selection Materials (168-172)

  • Kay does a good job here of explaining how selection can itself be a censoring process. This problem is why I expect to see proactive prevention of self-censorship in your final order.
  • On page 170 she says, “Knowing one’s self is a prerequisite for selection.” Aren’t you glad you already wrote your personal Intellectual Freedom Philosophy?
  • She ends the section on MSs and Personal Biases with this statement: “If you sense that your personal views may be outweighing your professional judgment, seek other people’s opinions.” I agree, except that I say: do it anyway. This is what your Media Committee is for.
  • Kay spends a lot of time on the principle of balance. This is warranted.


This chapter ends with a quick series of tasks and ethical issues in regards to those collection tasks. Some things to watch out for:

  • Accepting gifts or premiums from vendors to influence your decisions (There is a squiggly line here, to be sure!)
  • Being a responsible accountant
  • Sharing e-materials beyond the scope of a license
  • Taking good care of materials as an ethical responsibility (good stewardship)
  • Disposing of materials properly (I would add environmental stewardship to this point)
  • Confidentiality in circulation
  • What to do if you suspect a student is self-destructive or dangerous to others
  • Patriot Act
  • Restricting materials
  • Weeding of controversial materials (rather than just those that no longer meet selection criteria)
  • Obtaining funding: I had never thought of this as an ethical responsibility before.



The scenarios are excellent. If we had all the time in the world, we would discuss them one by one.

Finally, I hope you’ve noticed by now how wonderful the references and resources are at the end of each chapter. This is one great benefit of having a newly-published textbook.

February 12, 2008

A Slightly Different Wrinkle

Posted in Selection tagged , at 10:24 am by maf

There’s a lot I could talk about today! My feeling about blog postings, though, is that shorter is better. I’ll limit this to a couple of thoughts I’ve had since class Saturday.

True or false: The main purpose of a Selection Policy is to protect again challenges. My answer: False.

Yes, a significant purpose of the SP is to do just that. We certainly had that demonstrated to us in class Saturday from our guest speaker. But what if you live in one of those quiet places where challenges are unlikely to occur? It would be tempting to not bother with the chore of writing a Selection Policy.

The main purpose of a Selection Policy – in my opinion – is to guide  selection so that you will have the best possible collection for your students.

My second thought: many of us are opposed to profanity in children’s materials. Many people are, period. However, the intellectual freedom doctrine would tend to encourage us to ignore our concerns about profanity because it often constitutes a personal bias.

But here’s another wrinkle. We are also bound to avoid stereotypes in materials, or messages that oppress certain groups. Am I alone in believing that much profanity is gender-specifc? Are not many profane words depicting sexual acts cruel in their connotation, implying cruelty to a certain gender? There certainly may be arguments for including such language in a collection. There may also be important arguments against them that have little to do with prudishness. Unfortunately, this whole line of reasoning has been given a tired label: PC.

These are thoughts that occur to me as I read through your Drafts! Remember, there are still no right or wrong personal philosophies of intellectual freedom.

Update: I am 1/3 finished, and plan to do another third tomorrow and the final third on Friday. As I go, I’m sending emails to the teams that include any critical formative feedback, as in “Do not continue until you have fixed ___.”
I am pleased with what I’ve read so far.

February 8, 2008

Intellectual Freedom Personal Statements

Posted in Assignments tagged , , , at 8:50 am by maf

Here’s a compilation of answers I’ve sent out this week to individual questions about the Intellectual Freedom (IF) personal statement portion of the Selection Policy Draft:

If you ALONE were going to write the SP, what would your position on intellectual freedom be? Without the need to compromise or negotiate?

If I see deep reflection, I will be mostly happy. There is no wrong or right position.

The one paragraph given in the SP Draft assignment description accurately and fully describes the task. There are no hidden quality criteria. This is an open-ended, free-form task.

Certainly, you can include as examples specifics from your Reflection About Controversial Issues, as you see fit and are willing to share.

The big idea here is for you to have a chance to think through your own position on IF before you must launch into the fray of constructing a compromised position within your team.

You will not be asked to stand up and read your positions aloud :-). Although I won’t guarantee secrecy on these reflections, they will be read only by me and Beth with the possible help of Stephanie. We won’t be sharing them with anyone beyond the necessary circle.