Week 13 – Culture and Pop Culture – Issues Based Reflection

Home Forums Student forums Chris B Week 13 – Culture and Pop Culture – Issues Based Reflection

Viewing 2 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • #2667
      Christopher Brander
      Participant

      This week’s topic was around pop culture in libraries and there were more issues connected to this topic than I first thought and I will not be able to discuss them all in a 500 word blog post. The Twitter Chat this week brought up lots of interesting questions such as “What is pop culture?”, “How is pop culture different to high culture?” and “What are Zines and how do they relate to libraries?” The most important issue for me was that librarians have a lot of power to influence what people read and consume by what materials they choose to collect and promote. This was highlighted in the Twitter Chat this week when the question of whether trashy magazines (eg New Weekly) had a place in libraries. A lot of people (including @libridol) argued that it is not a librarian’s place to judge what people read and that if that’s what the user wants then libraries should provide it. This is similar to the discussion I had in my blog in Week 5 about the trend towards fiction and that libraries should give people what they want. For some reason though this was harder for me to agree to in this instance. Another factor raised by @ruthmcconchie is that these magazines could actually be harmful to certain readers eg portraying negative body image; although, as @rae_kers pointed out, plenty of other books in the library could also be argued to be harmful (which is related to discussion about censorship which is a whole other issue and not really what I wanted to get into with this post). Another concern for me is that for every trashy magazine collected, this is money and space that could go to another resource. I think @MysliwyL helped to answer this question somewhat by arguing that balance for all types of readers is important. Overall, it just made me realise that a lot of thought needs to be put into what materials are collected in a library and it highlights the need for a good collection development policy as it can help guide these decisions.

      In the reading, Robertson (2005) spoke about making the case for cultural programming and ways that libraries can justify spending money on cultural events and activities. This issue seemed far less controversial to me and is almost a necessity. Collections are becoming less and less important and if libraries hold fast to the idea that they are only for storing and borrowing books and nothing else then they will quickly become irrelevant. It seems to me that libraries are becoming more accepted as social place where people can come together to discuss common interests and build communities, for instance, this was a finding in one of the readings last week (Agosto and Hughes-Hassell, 2010). Harnessing pop culture is a good way to draw in people to the library eg tying in programming with major pop culture events such as the upcoming release of the new Star Wars movie. Robertson (2005) made lots of good arguments about why cultural programming is useful, such as being a way to help users interpret the library’s collection, being a place for artists to share their work, and being another way to educate users about current cultural or political events. And lastly, if there are still any ultra conservative people who only care about the books, attracting people to the library through cultural events will likely increase the library’s circulation of their books and other resources.

      • This topic was modified 5 years ago by Christopher Brander. Reason: Minor edit - open link in new window
    • #2714
      Ruth McConchie
      Participant

      Hi Chris, great post. I’m glad you expanded on our Twitter Chat discussion about trashy magazines. I know that very little will change in relation to the purchase of trashy magazines, but I think it’s important for librarians to talk about. I wonder whether if public libraries provided online access to these magazines as e-magazines (?) it would encourage more people to learn to use technology.  I also wonder whether libraries need to purchase the entire selection of trashy magazines. I feel that by purchasing these magazines it makes the library complicit with the actions of the paparazzi, the misogyny and racism of celebrity “culture” and the questionable ethics of big business.

      • #2741
        Christopher Brander
        Participant

        Thanks Ruth. I also think it’s healthy to have a discussion about this kind of thing. You raise some concerning points around trashy magazines and I think just saying “it’s not our place to judge what people read” is too simplistic. No library is going to be able to collect everything so the materials we do collect should be chosen with care.

    • #2739
      Tracey Allen
      Participant

      Hey Chris,

      I enjoyed reading your post and agree that tying in programs, products and services with pop culture is a great idea.  Pop culture is big business at the moment and there are more and more opportunities to attract users through this area. May 4th is a good example of this and more recently with the Back to the Future date. Having a star wars  movie night on the six nights leading up to the release of the seventh movie and having a sci-fi/pop culture collection in focus nearby would be a great program. So many ideas!!!

      Tracey

      • #2742
        Christopher Brander
        Participant

        Thanks Tracey. That’s a great idea! I would definitely be interested in watching the other Star Wars movies in the lead up to the new one 🙂

Viewing 2 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.