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Dismantling the Public Sphere

Situating and Sustaining Librarianship in the Age of the New Public Philosophy

by John E. Buschman

 

Buschman examines librarianship and the social and economic contexts in which the profession and its institutions operate.

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August 2003

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 232
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Librarianship: Philosophy, Values, and Issues/Critical Perspectives on LIS
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    978-0-313-32199-3

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    978-0-313-04935-4

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This work presents a thorough examination of librarianship and the social and economic contexts in which the profession and its institutions operate. As a basis of analysis, Buschman employs critical education scholarship and the research of German philosopher Jurgen Habermas, whose seminal work on the public sphere—the arena in which the public organizes itself and formulates public opinion—serves as a meta-framework for Buschman's study of librarianship. Buschman asserts that a significant shift has occurred from the library as a contributor to the public good to a model where economic rationality directs policy. He challenges much of the current thinking and assumptions guiding libraries, exploring the circumstances in which librarians and libraries operate and linking the profession back to democratic and public purposes as the core essence of the field.

Chapters include:
• Crisis Culture and the Need for a Defense of Librarianship in the Public Sphere
• The New Public Philosophy and Critical Educational Analysis
• The Public Sphere: Rounding Out the Context of Librarianship
• Studies in Librarianship and the Dismantling of the Public Sphere
• Follow the Money: Library Funding and Information Capitalism
• Follow-the-Leader Library Management and the New Public Philosophy
• On Customer Driven Librarianship
• Drifting Toward the Corporate Model: ALA
• Notes on Postmodern Technology, Technocracy, and Libraries
• The Public Sphere and Democratic Possibility

Highly recommended for courses in policy and librarianship, as well as for academic and public library directors, this work will also be of interest to theorists in the social sciences.

Table of Contents

The Framework of Critical Analysis: The New Public Philosophy and the Public SphereIntroduction: Crisis Culture and the Need for a Defense of Librarianship in the Public SphereThe New Public Philosophy and Critical Educational Analysis: The Context of Public Cultural InstitutionsThe Public Sphere: Rounding out the Context of LibrarianshipStudies in Librarianship and the Dismantling of the Public SphereFollow the Money: Library Funding and Information CapitalismCo-opted or Rolling Over? Follow-the-Leader Library Management and the New Public PhilosophyOn Customer-Driven LibrarianshipDrifting Toward the Corporate Model: A Brief Look at ALANotes on Postmodern Technology, Technocracy, and LibrariesConclusion: Toward a Sustainable Case for Librarianship: The Public Sphere and Democratic PossibilitySelected Bibliography

Reviews/Endorsements

Reviews

^IDismantling the Public Sphere^R is a call to action to protect information - an essential public good - from slipping out of the hands of ordinary citizens and a call to defend the traditional and vital role of librarianship in a democratic society. Its intellectual grounding is firm and in touch with the most important values of librarianship.portal: Reviews

John E. Buschman has written a thought-provoking meditation on the context and position of public libraries in a social environment that has changed greatly in the past few decades. This book examines the ways in which external social, economic, technological, and intellectual forces affect the role, status, function, and goals of the public library in the United States. ^IDismantling the Public Sphere^R is a provocation and an invitation to scholars and practitioners of library and information science to think more about positions, policies, and actions of public libraries within the context of a wider social perspective than library discourse usually considers....By making readers reflect on the nature of libraries as public entities and the social drivers that shape the place of libraries, this book does something that far too few texts in the field of library and information science do....[a]n important contribution to the library and information science discourse.The Library Quarterly

[S]timulating....Many readers will appreciate having such a well-developed and reasoned defense of the importance of libraries in a democratic society....This is a sustantial contribution that deserves and rewards careful study.College & Research Libraries

John E. Buschman throughly examines librarianship today....Buschman discusses how the library has moved from a model of contributing to the public good to one dictated by economics; he also analyzes how a focus on customer-driven librarianship is eroding the profession's historic role in supporting democracy.American Libraries

Awards

2003 New Jersey Library Association Research Award

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