Week 13 Journal Entry: Twitter Chat Champion – Culture and Pop Culture

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    • #2716
      Luke Mysliwy
      Participant

      On Monday 19th of October our class held a twitter chat on the topic of Culture and Pop Culture in the library. This is my reflection if what I learned from what was discussed.

      The first question posed was “What role should different types of libraries have in the age of GLAM?” prompting the usual flurry of responses. Several people indicated the fact that libraries often encourage users can collaborate to get involved with making their own art, and can be a venue for exhibiting art and hosting performances from the community, but one of the most pertinent responses (which I think can define the libraries role from that of other GLAM’s) was from S G Larner, who answered “capturing the culture of a time period by looking at informal publications, and archiving or circulating them”. Performances and exhibitions can be seen in theatres, art galleries and museums, but where else of the GLAMs but a library can one actually take home a popular cultural artefact such as a book, movie or magazine to enjoy at your leisure?

      The conversation turned to how to define pop culture, pre-empting Kate Davis’s second question. What DOES come to mind when someone says ‘pop culture in the library?’, and what is pop culture anyway? Some participants agreed that the lines have blurred in recent years between what is considered ‘pop’ and ‘high’ culture, although there are still distinctions around what sort of things may be classified as high culture depending on the institution, Rachel Kersley making a good point that both terms come with an implied value judgement. Other suggestions were ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’, ‘Doctor Who‘ and ‘Star Wars’, with Chris adding that he felt like it referred to really mainstream stuff. Ruth McConchie responded by saying that she felt that pop/mainstream fare such as reno/dating shows was quite vapid. I would tend to agree on some mainstream entertainment fare, however as I said in the chat, just because something is popular or mainstream, doesn’t mean it isn’t ‘good’ or culturally significant. Pop culture is very much of it’s time and place, and as values change, so too does the significance/value of a piece of work, as NSteer pointed out using the example of Pride and Prejudice (It remains to be seen whether similar status will be attributed to ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies…).

      Before I move on to the last sections of the chat, can I point out that a good portion of the chat was given over to the discussion of the trend of adult colouring, a trend I had been hitherto unaware of, and is apparently huge! The things you can learn on twitter! Some other current trends mentioned were selfies, youtubers and zombies, but I thought Ruth McConchie had some of the best suggestions for integrating various trends into the library, although tinder profile editing could be going a bit far. Then again why the heck not?

      The final questions to the group covered the value of including ‘trashy magazines’ (such as NW) and ‘Zines’ (independent, self published magazines) in the library respectively. The consensus from most participants was that although they might object to the vapid content of some popular magazines, they should still be included in a collection as the public has a right to access them like anything else, and as The Librarian Idol pointed out “It’s not our place to pass judgement on people’s reading experience. Let them enjoy what they want to enjoy.” .

      The worth of Zines in the library was discussed in slightly more glowing terms than for ‘trashy’ mags, with many posts informed by our reading of Jenna Freedman this week. Although some might question the authority of Zines, they are often the only source of information from marginalised or non-mainstream groups and events, thus providing valuable insights into ideas and sub-cultures which might not get coverage in mainstream media.

      As always, this was a very high speed and high concept chat, with many ideas and opinions shared. the main take-away for me was that pop-culture on a whole does have a valuable place in the library as an artefact of a time and place, and as a way of attracting young people to the library, and can be promoted by an enthusiastic staff through their own knowledge of a specific sub-genre or trend.

    • #2864
      Deborah Fuller
      Participant

      I really enjoyed reading your post Luke. I felt it provided a concise and informative study for someone who was unable to attend the  chat. I agree that as librarians it is not up to us to judge but to provide to the public what they want. The discussion about how things that are considered trashy can later be seen as classics. I think Dickens started by writing a serial for a newspaper and his writing is now considered classic and a view of Victorian England. Similarly some of the first zines or now seen as being important as offering an insight into the culture and society at the time.

    • #2907

      Hi Luke, thanks for your summing up of the Twitter chat. I think I’m going to miss them! They certainly are fast and furious but you’ve done a good job in sorting out the threads and highlighting posts. I have to admit right here that while Jane Austen is my all time favourite author I thought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a hoot. You’re right to say it may not last – the whole zombies thing may be a passing fad. But it’s a great example of pop culture, homing in on part of the zeitgeist and subverting “high” culture with an amusing twist. Whether it lasts or not it was fun at the time, and to me that lies at the heart of “pop culture”.

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