Archive for January 2011

Grocery store science*

Okay, everybody listen up: I’m sick and tired some four decades after I signed on, to still hear people talk about our parent field as library science.

There is no such thing as library science.

There never was any such thing as library science. What would that be? How to make the bricks especially heavy because there are books inside?

Go ahead, call me a crank. But the field, now, in the year 2011, is called “INFORMATION.” In some circles it is called “INFORMATION STUDIES” which is thought to cast a broader net. But there is no such thing as library science.

I’m not even going to go into the details here. You should have done this reading decades ago. But if you didn’t, go now to Rayward, W. Boyd. 1983. “Library and Information Sciences: Disciplinary Differentiation, Competition, and Convergence,” in The Study of Information: Interdisciplinary Messages ed. Fritz Machlup and Una Mansfield, pp. 343-405; and, Rayward, W. Boyd. 1998. “The History and Historiography of Information Science: Some Reflections.” In Historical Studies in Information Science, ed. Trudi Bellardo Hahn and Michael Buckland. Medford, N.J.: Information Today, pp. 7-21.

While you’re at it, read the whole Machlup and Mansfield book. Get a glimpse of how the domain of INFORMATION grew inter- and intra-disciplinarily.

Then, do yourself a favor and read Richardson’s history of the Graduate Library School at Chicago: The Spirit of Inquiry; the Graduate Library School at Chicago, 1921 – 1951. Foreword by Jesse H. Shera. ACRL Publications in Librarianship, No. 42. Chicago: American Library Association, 1982.

While I’m at it don’t skimp, go now to: Introduction to library science: basic units of library service. Littleton, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1976; and then to: An epistemological foundation for library science. Cleveland, Press of Western Reserve University, 1965.

Then go here: http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/jrichardson/GLS.htm .

Then think about looking at Pierce Butler’s book Introduction to Library Science (1933).  You will see that it was an attempt to place the discipline of libraries into the academy; the bringing of science (i.e., logical positivism) to the table was how it was to become a “science.” Read the whole book. It  is not about a science of libraries. It is about how to bring scientific thought to the problems of managing libraries. Decades later, Shera is still trying to make the same case, but with greater elan.

But, it all comes down to what we now call our brave new world of INFORMATION STUDIES.

And then, if you think you really have covered the map, go to the original source and read: Otlet, Paul. 1934. Traité de documentation: le livre sur le livre, théorie et pratique. Bruxelles: Editiones Mundaneum, Palais Mondial.

Here you will see, laid out in excruciating detail, the parameters of what we now know as INFORMATION, which is a branch of scientific inquiry.

*An old joke; do you think the science of running a grocery store is “grocery store science?” If so, you probably don’t want a medical doctor when you are deathly ill, you probably would prefer a doctor of hospital science.

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Literally, really ….

I gave a paper at CAIS/ACSI in June in which I related some of the variability in tag clouds to cogntive scanning; in particular, to something called fictive scanning, in which a speaker tells a literal lie that has socially acceptable meaning.

I can never think of an example when someone asks me, and in my slides I have an example of “my teacher’s books keep getting longer” in which I show some books stretching in length.

So, last week, I was treated to a veritable festival of fictive scanning. My flight on US Airways was late (“NO,” you’re thinking, how could it have been!), four hours to be exact. The reason was because the airline screws around and screws around and doesn’t take its business seriously. The plane was four hours late arriving in Philadelphia, so we were four hours late departing, and four hours late arriving in Milwaukee.

When we got there it was snowing, in fact had been all day. First thing that happened was a chorus of idio … oh, I mean, fellow passengers, talking into their cell phones “We’re late because it’s snowing.” Well, friends, we weren’t late because of the snow. We were late because US Airways doesn’t take you seriously as a customer.

But be that as it may. The best was still to come.

“I just landed.”

Oh, now how many times have you said that? Did it hurt, did you scrape your butt on the runway? No, the fact is, the plane on which you are sitting just landed. But it got better.

“I’m literally right now taxiing to the gate.”

…..

I rest my case.

Posted January 25, 2011 by lazykoblog in linguistics

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