Drabinski articles

Wow, so I found the Drabinski articles pretty deep. I agree with her thoughts that, because they are subjective and reflective of social values at a certain time, classification schemes inherently contain biases. And I definitely agree that “problem-posing education” is preferable to the “banking education” approach for just about every subject, including information literacy, classification and cataloging. (And as an aside, I think its what I value most about my previous law education, being taught to read or learn something and think critically about it, even if its an opinion written by a judge — people see and interpret things differently, which does not necessarily make them right or wrong. While feeding information to a person for them to regurgitate back and not really process might be fine for a very basic task, most every task can be critically analyzed and benefit. Why do we do things the way we do? Would this suggestion make it better? Would it be easier if we approached it another way? Critical analysis is what breeds creativity, discovery, understanding, and further knowledge).

I was having a hard time figuring out where Drabinski was going with her “queer theory” article. I think the last line of the abstract is the best summary statement of what she’s trying to convey: “Queer theory invites a shift in responsibility from catalogers, positioned to offer functional solutions, to public services librarians, who can teach patrons to dialogically engage the catalog as a complex and biased text, just as critical catalogers do.” I think what she’s saying is that we can try to be universal, correct, unbiased in classifying and cataloging information, but it is impossible. Instead of (or in addition to?) trying unsuccessfully to fix it, librarians can teach patrons to understand that these tools are “complex and biased”. I guess I can agree with that. As Drabinski says, classification schemes and subject headings are the product of certain social values at a certain point in time and are dependent on the views of those in charge of creating them. Ultimately, these are meant to aid in finding information, not convey values, but it is important in understanding why the structure and language used in them is what it is. We do, ultimately, need systems to aid in organizing and finding information, and as humans, we will never achieve complete objectivity.

Katie B


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