This online exhibit imagined how an educator might welcome incoming students to a library and information science program, utilizing ideas from papers by Shera (1973a), White (1992), and Bates (1999). After a profile of the author, the historical and literary context of each article was sketched, and then its unique characterization of LIS was presented in a spoken rhetorical style. The objective of this exercise was to revisit interpretations of LIS that are unifying rather than divisive. Another goal was to provide educators with resources to initiate newcomers to the field during a period of change. To conclude and summarize, the holistic visions from the featured articles are crystallized below.
~ Shera (1973a) introduces social epistemology, that is, the way society becomes knowledgeable; libraries contribute to the production of knowledge in society by making graphic records available to all, drawing upon subject expertise and the technical innovations of information science.
~ White (1992) casts the accumulated record of human experience as external memory. A constellation of fields and professions (LIS, information systems, archives, mass communications) each play an indispensable role in connecting society to its external memory.
~ Bates (1999) illuminates the special meta-perspective shared by information science and librarianship; both focus on the representation, organization, and structure of information in all domains of life.
This paper also proposed questions to stimulate classroom discussion and stated pedagogical strengths and weaknesses of the three articles. From the analysis it can be gleaned that people attracted to information professions are variously subject experts (or not), tolerant of information overload, intellectually sympathetic, service-oriented, and equipped with a special meta-perspective. Explicit knowledge of these tendencies may help newcomers settle into their academic and professional careers. Of note, the scholars who produced these landmark articles have traits in common, as well. Jesse H. Shera, Howard D. White, and Marcia J. Bates are technologically savvy social scientists with humanistic sensibilities, a breadth and balance of talents that inspires.
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