A Little Free Garden Movement

It’s been very exciting to see the popularity of Little Free Libraries in neighborhoods around the country. Today I’d like to propose a counterpart, Little Free Gardens.

Two years ago, while planning out our ever-growing city garden, a scripture popped into my mind. Today that scripture came once again, along with a thought-provoking quote from W.E.B. DuBois, by way of my Sojourners daily Verse & Voice email:

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien: I am the Lord your God.

– Leviticus 23:22

To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.

– W.E.B. Du Bois

The response two years ago was to plant a community free pick corner. The result has been conversations with newly met neighbors, opportunities to coach others in starting their own gardens, and a realization that there are many reasons why some right now can’t start a garden but still would like fresh produce. We’ve heard from some that they are poor in time: they are new parents, they commit long hours to volunteer or to public service, they’re new to the area and are just getting settled in. They may be poor in health: injuries or age make it difficult to maintain even a small garden. They may be poor in geographic resources: they have a small yard, or a heavily shaded yard. Meeting new people, learning a little about their lives, and sharing a little about our lives, happens because of necessity a Little Free Garden needs to be someplace where your neighbors can readily gain access. And it requires you to spend time in that space where neighbors have access to you, too.

What would our neighborhoods look like if we took a small section of our front or side yards and opened them up as a Little Free Garden?

Here’s a few thoughts if you’re thinking of getting started:

  1. You can start very small. A few plants can go a long way to getting a feel for things.
  2. Start with extended harvest fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Go for varieties with optimal taste and nutrition rather than those bred for durability during transport. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, and herbs have all been popular. We have a few children and young people in our neighborhood who just love to come pick a few mint leaves to add to their water.
  3. Be ready for the cost, be ready for the benefit. One neighbor wondered aloud how I can manage it, given anytime I go out to do a 10 minute job multiple conversations may turn it into a 2 hour activity.
  4. Use signs to help people know what to harvest when. Many people may never have seen a tomato or squash on the vine and won’t know when to pick them. Small signs with hints (pick when fully red, when about 6-9″ long) can be very helpful.
  5. Complement the Little Free Garden with a Little Free Library to not only share gardening books, but recipes and gardening tips on note cards.

Give it a try and provide a comment on your experiences!

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Does a Library Need Books, and Other Silly Questions

I get up, get dressed, eat breakfast before heading out into my shop. As I stretch and look around, I wonder, do I need a table saw?

I visit a friend and take a seat in their gourmet kitchen. As we chat over a fine wine, we ask, do they need a meat clever?

I head out to the farm and lean up against the railing of the wrap around porch overlooking ripening crops, and speculate, do we need a shovel?

Silly questions can be a fine way to pass the time, but they’re not the basis of real work. But are the above questions really silly? It all depends on whether they are THE question.

Back to the saw for a moment. Doing a quick mental inventory, I have the following saws:

Table saw, sliding compound miter saw, bandsaw, hole saws, back saws, cross cut saws (both for shop, and 5′, two handled tree cutting versions), ice saw, bow saw, folding tree saw, reciprocating saw, circular saw, jig saw, scroll saw (table and hand), drywall saw, keyhole saw, hacksaw, and flat saw

As I sit typing this blog post, those saws are doing exactly nothing. Zip. Zero. They are not sharpening themselves, they are recharging themselves, they are certainly not cutting material. The chickens are just waking up mere feet from where my saws are stored. They are grooming themselves and each other, feeding themselves, protecting themselves. So too the rabbits in the same run. But the saws, nothing. Saws are inanimate, chickens and rabbits animate. Duh!

I have each of those saws because I have had projects requiring at least one of those saws. I expect sometime down the line I will take on a project for which I will struggle because I do not have the right saw, and at that time I will ask whether I need a new saw. And there are times when I take stock of my tools as I reorganize the shop, and I will ask whether I still need one of my saws or whether the storage space that saw takes up might be better used for something else. Waking up, heading out to the shop, and asking whether I need a table saw only makes sense in light of the upcoming projects. The answer may be informed by my past projects — 50% of my projects have greatly benefited from a table saw, 100% of my fine cabinetry projects have needed a table saw to do well. But history is not an absolute for determining the answer for a future project, because the context will have changed. For instance, what if I’m doing a fine cabinetry project, but I’m also taking a class with Roy Underhill at the Woodright Shop on traditional hand tool woodworking.


The beautiful Champaign Public Library

Does a library need books given the Internet? Does a library need the Internet given it has books? Silly questions! Silly questions?

Information is as inanimate as my saws. Books are information. The part of the Internet posited as a replacement for books is an alternate storage medium for information. We might say a reference book is like my table saw — a little bit movable but not too much. A circulating book, one that can be checked out and taken home, is more like my circular saw. A random bit of information from the Internet is probably more like my reciprocating saw — portable and can be used to hack on about anything, but not all too neatly.

Some have suggested information is power. But that’s no more true than to say my saws are power. Turning information into knowledge, the contextualized processing of information to make it actionable, is first required, and that’s done by animate beings. Some have suggested knowledge is power. But knowledge, too, is inanimate. It needs to be put into action by animate beings. And while action is a certain type of power in motion, real power comes from reflection and discussion in community in ways that help us to ask better questions, to do better investigations, to inform better actions, to guide better reflection and discussion. This is the building of community power. When the capacity of every member of society allows for their full participation, it is democracy. When axes of exclusion precluding full participation of all in the process are destroyed, it is justice. Supporting people engaged in community power, democracy, and justice is the past, present, and future of libraries.

Does the library need books? Silly question! Will we need books to support our current community inquiry project? I’m not sure, maybe. They sure have been extremely helpful in the past.

Posted in Civics, Libraries, Reflections | Leave a comment

Why does the argument of white vs black have to carry on?

The other day I shared a video from Sojourners magazine, that highlights and builds upon the results from a recent Public Religion Research Institute survey.  From the article introducing the video:

While about 80 percent of black Christians believe police-involved killings — like the ones that killed Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, and so many more — are part of a larger pattern of police treatment of African Americans, around 70 percent of white Christians believe the opposite … that they are simply isolated incidents.

It’s time for white Christians to act more Christian than white.

One comment to my Facebook post asks:

Why does the argument of white vs black even have to carry on and focus more on individuals christian vs nonchristian we have to get the Christian belief back into this world and erase the race division that the worldly people want to argue about?

I’m making my response here on my blog, since this is a question asked beyond just one of my Facebook friends. And I’d like to respond with a story.

By the early 2000’s, I was suffering such severe upper back pain that I could no longer ride an upright bike, but had to ride a recumbent bike. Some days I couldn’t get out of bed because the pain was so bad. Some days I couldn’t roll over because the pain would become more severe. The pain was affecting more of my body, from digestive track to mental health. I lived on prescription strength medicines for years, threatening internal organs. I had seen various specialists, gone through a range of treatments, and there was some suggestion I might need back surgery. Then a friend and physical therapist Bill Terry had me light flat on my stomach and try to lift my extended arms upwards. I couldn’t do it. He properly diagnosed my problem. Through a lifetime of bad practices, the muscles of my chest had become excessively strong at the expense of my muscles of my upper back. Indeed, I had almost no muscle strength left. This severe imbalance was impacting all aspects of my body and my ability to function in the world. Exercise and changed ways for doing everyday things, and not drugs or surgery, treated the root cause and has helped me to get back to normal. But I periodically get those twinges in my back that let me know I’m returning to old practices, or haven’t done the right exercises lately, because I will never totally overcome that lifetime of poor practices that had created my muscle imbalance.

After centuries of practices in the U.S. that have strengthened whites at the expense of people of color, we see ongoing symptoms whose root cause is those practices. At times we’ve taken steps to treat the root cause and we’ve seen decreased inequality in our nation. But always that unconscious muscle memory combined with personal and societal selfishness and greed threaten to draw us back to bad practices of which we’ve reformed. And other bad practices linger, deeply embedded in our systems and culture unseen. This will always be the case because our formative centuries indelibly imprinted those practices into the fiber of our being as a nation. Today we stand at one of the more unequal times in our nations history, and the symptoms are flaring. Our attempts to treat the symptoms only make things worse. Reform only happens by identifying, repenting, and treating the root causes, now, and everyday for the rest of our national life. Failing to do so only foreshortens that national life.

Speaking to my Christian readers in particular now to answer the other aspect of the Facebook comment. In Luke we read:

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The good news Jesus brought to this world was that we have entered into the year of Jubilee as a new way of life. Ours is a faith that works to treat the root causes of injustice in our nation and the world, acting as the body of Christ every day. We do this as a body, not as individuals. This is not a call for us to simply evangelize to get people to say a few magic words so that we can then hang on until some future better afterlife. It is a call to an upside-down way of living in the world that exactly focuses and leads on issues such as racism in America. It is to hear the cry of our black brothers and sisters and to enter into allyship with them. Anything less is to reject Jesus.

Posted in Liberation, Social Justice | Leave a comment

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is the start of the Martin Luther King, Jr. long weekend in the United States. There are a lot of great celebrations, remembrances, prayer breakfasts, and acts of service that will be done as part of the three day weekend. I’d like to add another possible way to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. this long weekend.

  1. Read one of your favorite quotes by Dr. King.
  2. Locate a source from which that quote was lifted
  3. Read that source in its entirety and reflect on what King might have meant through those words given his personal history, race, culture, and context of the time. How does that compare to your own understanding given your personal history, race, culture, and context of your time? What were the underlying values that motivated Dr. Kings words and message? What are yours that initially attracted you to the quote? How do the values compare and contrast?
  4. Reflect on ways in which you’ve been using the quote consistent with the broader message being delivered by Dr. King when he spoke those words. Reflect also on the ways in which your usage comes in conflict with the broader message being delivered by Dr. King when he spoke those words. In what ways might you move beyond applying the words isolated from the broader message, to incorporating the broader message into your justice initiatives? What would be the ramifications?
  5. Get together with a few others and share each others insights.
  6. Find a way to turn your reflections and discussion into action over the coming weeks and months. Using observations from your actions, return to step #3 and repeat, trying to go still deeper in your understanding.

Here’s to a meaningful honoring of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., this weekend and throughout the year.

Posted in Community Engagement, Reflections, Social Justice | Leave a comment

Charity, Caring, Social Justice

This past summer I read the book Service Learning and Social Justice by Susan Benigni Cipolle. Her description of the path all of us must take when reaching out to help others — from a mindset of charity, to one of caring, to one of social justice — has helped me reconsider many of my own engagement practices (a summary chart of her proposed stages is available online). The movement from charity, with its “Do for others” deficit view, to caring, with its “Do for, but in relationship with, others” reciprocal service, reminds me of the relief, rehabilitation, development concept outlined in the WhenHelpingHurtsDiagrambook When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. When a traumatic event occurs, we need to certainly provide immediate relief, but then we need harness an asset-based, participatory approach to foster efforts to rehabilitate the person and the conditions that allowed for the event requiring relief. From there, we need to move towards a broader development that “teaches the person to fish”. In this way we leave behind a perpetual “giving the person a fish” cycle that hurts everyone. While helpful in a number of ways, I find Corbett and Fikkert’s arguments only moving us from a charity to a caring mindset. While important, this is insufficient to address root causes of hunger, homelessness, poverty, oppression, etc.

What I appreciate about Cipolle’s stages is that she helps us take one further step, encouraging us to develop a social justice mindset. Social justice is difficult to define in concrete terms, given it means different things to different people. I am finding it helpful to extend Corbett and Fikkert’s concept of relief, rehabilitation, and development beyond a focus on the system of the other. Instead, by bringing in a social justice mindset, we begin to recognize the many interwoven systems that all need rehabilitation and development. That is, we begin to recognize that rehabilitation and development only solves half the problem when it is focused solely within the system of the other without simultaneously recognizing and working towards rehabilitation and development of our own systems. We need rehabilitation and development of our systems as much and more as do those of “the other”, for ultimately each system is tightly interwoven with the other.

Extending the fishing metaphor, we add to, or potentially even replace, the emphasis on giving a fish or teaching to fish, with a question of why people who knew quite well how to fish in the past no longer have access to waterways that would allow them to continue fishing. As Paul O’Brian,Vice President for Policy and Campaigns at Oxfam America, points out:

Teach a man to fish with a high tech rod, and you will feed him for a lifetime. Unless of course, someone steals all the fish, the water gets polluted, or the government sells off the access rights!

A social justice mindset is a developing mindset as we work to continually expose, understand, and undertake to rehabilitate and develop the pieces of each system that together contribute to injustice. In so doing, we work towards our own liberation as well as the liberation of the other. But we must also move beyond the simple and the quick, because the ripple effects of our actions to address an injustice in one place may contribute to increased injustices in other places given the deeply interwoven nature of our systems.

Late in his all-to-short life, Martin Luther King, Jr., increasingly came to appreciate that addressing the civil rights violations in America without addressing the poverty in America or the human rights violations we were committing in places such as Vietnam was to only address a fraction of the root causes of injustice to people of color in the U.S. Even as we each individually commit to working on one or a few aspects of a problem so as to maximize our personal impact, we need to continually develop a broader social justice mindset that works to recognize how our work intersects with the justice initiatives of others. And we need to also come to see that our work will have both positive and negative ripple effects if we are to continually try to maximize the positive impacts while minimizing the negative.

To this end, developing a social justice mindset requires both ongoing engaged action with those around us combined with constant critical reflection on the assumptions, privilege, oppression, and power structures that create and reinforce embedded injustices within our social, economic, and political systems locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. It is action with reflection in community, by community, for community predicated on diversity with inclusiveness. It is to see every person as equals who bring essential strengths and resources to the table, and to understand that any person who is less than fully flourishing is not fully contributing those strengths and resources to the benefit of themselves and those around them. It is to see that those strengths and resources are the heart and soul of building a healthy, thriving, resilient community, not for their exchange value but for their immediate and direct use value within community. It is, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., to work towards an essential radical revolution of values.

Posted in Community Engagement, Social Justice | Leave a comment

Community Engagement, Spring 2016

Here’s the syllabus and link to the bibliography for my spring, 2016, Community Engagement course. The course meets Thursdays from 1:00-3:50pm at the Library and Information Science building, 501 E. Daniel St., Champaign. Thanks to my students from the spring, 2015, course for their invaluable feedback which I have tried to incorporate into this updated course.

Course Description:

There are many different calls related in some way to libraries and engagement. Are these trending topics of relevance to profession and community, or are the a passing fad or desperate attempt to justify libraries in a time of shrinking public funding? Answering these questions, and achieving impact goals based on decisions, are difficult unless we have a clear understanding of community, of engagement, and how various engagement techniques lead towards very different community engagement priorities. Rather than a settled issue, though, these are contested concepts and practices that we’ll explore, debate, and practice together.

Pre- and Co-requisites:

Junior or senior standing for LIS418AU; consent of instructor for non-LIS graduate students.

Learning Objectives:

The overall objective of the course is to develop a more complex and nuanced conceptual understanding of community, engagement, and social change. Core guiding questions include:

  • In what ways is community a descriptive noun and starting point for engagement work? In what ways is it a verb continually in the act of coming into being? What other forms does community take? What are the ramifications of internalizing and applying these different forms in our work?
  • In what ways is engagement a core outreach program led through libraries by librarians? In what ways is engagement an essential part of our character determining how we carry out every aspect of our profession? What other forms does engagement take? What are the ramifications of internalizing and applying these different forms in our work?
  • In what ways is social change a work of compassion and charity performed for, and in relationship with, individuals in need to help in their personal development? In what ways is social change a work of social justice done as allies and in solidarity with oppressed groups as a community of inquiry to understand the root causes of injustice, to critically reflect on our assumptions, privilege, and power, and to work towards systemic change for the liberation of all? What other forms does social change take? What are the ramifications of internalizing and applying these different forms in our work?

By the end of the semester, students should be able to answer the following:

  • How to utilize a more complex and nuanced conceptual understanding of community, engagement, and social change to strategically design library programs that align with outcomes and impacts goals;
  • How to critically assess engagement tools, programs, and initiatives by considering the various stated and unstated theories of community, engagement, and social change held by library stakeholders;
  • How LIS professionals can be change agents with the confidence to play a leadership role in community projects; and
    How to bring theoretical perspectives from readings and field practice into active dialogue as a daily part of LIS professional life.

Teaching Strategy:

Grounded in the progressive education model of John Dewey and the popular education model of Paulo Freire, among others, this course seeks to reframe the role of course actors so as to create a community of inquiry. While I can not fully forgo my responsibilities arising from, or the power relationship embedded within, my role as instructor within this class, I also acknowledge that often times I will be as much or more the learner benefiting from the knowledge brought to the class by those enrolled in the class for credit. Likewise, those with whom we engage in community, far from being solely a recipient of our services, also bring a wealth of knowledge to bear in our learning. As we work together in common cause for learning and positive social change, we grow into a community of inquiry.

Progressive education only happens when the learning environment aligns with the purposes of participants. I will need your active participation and feedback if we are to assure this happens for all class participants. Further, progressive education requires the intentional sense-making that only comes through systematic, rigorous reflection and discussion, informed by, and resulting in, action in community. Your thoughtful and full participation in each aspect of the class will affect not only your own learning, but that of the other class participants. Through this virtuous cycle, our understanding of the world and our role in it progresses.

The underlying teaching strategy for LIS418, then, is to bring past experiences, service-learning field experiences, and readings together through journaling to foster individual reflection and classroom discussion to foster a community of inquiry. These, in turn, will hopefully inspire new practices in your weekly service learning field experiences and inform subsequent readings, thereby leading towards asking of new and better questions that inform the next round of reflections and discussions. John Dewey suggests that “a well formed question is half answered”, while Eugene Ionesco states that “it is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” In this way we actively recreate the world and bring about liberation and social change.

Assignments and Methods of Assessment:

Students will be graded on a 90% (A), 80% (B), 70% (C), 60% (D) scale. Graded assignments and the overall percentage for each category of assignments are listed below. Note that we will be covering around 100 pages of readings per week. To receive full marks on each assessment component, it will be important that student-instructors complete the assigned readings in advance of class unless otherwise noted.

Service-Learning Reflections (18% of grade):

Each week as students participate in their service-learning field work, they should be alert for key moments that seem to stand out for one reason or another, even if you can’t immediately verbalize why. Using Dewey’s strategies for reflection as described by Carol Rogers in her article “Defining Reflection”, students should use systematic, rigorous reflection to probe more deeply into the experience. The service-learning reflections forum provides a set of guided questions to help with this process. The increasing depth and thoroughness with which students answer these questions will determine whether they receive one or two points for a given post. The top nine posts will be counted towards the final grade.

Site Coordinator Evaluation (10% of grade):

Each student will work with the instructor to identify a host organization with which they will volunteer at least 2 hours/week for 15 weeks. Students also agree to attend any initial training required to fulfill that volunteer position if this is not an organization with which they are already serving. This service-learning opportunity should be viewed as a professional activity and be treated as such. Students should treat this activity as a priority in their schedule, should report on time to their volunteer shifts, and should work in advance with the site coordinator to reschedule if an unavoidable conflict arises.

The site coordinator will be asked to provide a review based on the following items using the scale: 3 – Exceeded expectations; 2 – Met expectations; 1 – Partially missed expectations; 0 – Completely missed expectations. Students who receive a 3 or 2 on all six items will receive an ‘A’; students receiving a 3 or 2 on at least three items and 1 on the others will receive a ‘B’; students receiving a 1 on most items and no more than one 0 will receive a ‘C’; otherwise students will receive an ‘F’.

  • Reliability/Commitment to Job
  • Quality/Quantity of Work
  • Human Relations Skills
  • Teamwork/Cooperation
  • Initiative and Creativity

Professional Journal Entries (18% of grade):

Each week students should spend between 30 and 45 minutes writing down their reflections on the in-class discussions and in-field experiences from the past week as they relate to the theoretical readings and reflections from their in-field engagement. These will be posted to the Professional Journal forum. The goal is to increasingly bring theory and praxis into dialog, with theory informing praxis, and praxis informing our understanding of theory. The increasing depth and thoroughness with which students answer these questions will determine whether they receive one or two points for a given post. The top nine posts will be counted towards the final grade.

Students are encouraged to respectfully comment on the reflections of other students to affirm and expand upon lessons learned, or to provide insights into the biggest question remaining. The instructor may also use the forum on occasion to provide additional information regarding lessons learned or questions remaining.

Concept Papers (30% of grade):

At the end of each of the first three sections of the semester, students will be expected to write a 1000 word paper, plus bibliography, related to the theme of that section. Guiding questions will be developed as part of class discussion to inform our progress through each theme and should be used to inform concept papers. Each paper will be worth 10 points, with full points awarded to students who:

  • Identify and discusses the depth and breadth of issues related to the topic identified in the readings, class discussion, and through past and current experiences;
  • Appropriately cites at least 10 sources in addition to relevant field experiences to substantiate discussion, comparing and contrasting sources rather than independently reviewing them;
  • Reflects an emerging leadership in our profession by relating the theme to the LIS field; and
  • There are no errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics that detract the reader from the content.

Instructor Evaluation (10% of grade):

The instructor will evaluate student attendance, active participation, and overall progress throughout the course of the semester. The following rubric will be used to assign a score mid-semester and again at the end of the semester. These will be averaged to create the final score.

  • 10 = Student has been an active participant in class discussions based on assigned readings and lived experiences and is demonstrating an increasing grasp of the key concepts covered in class.
  • 8 = Student has been an active participant in some of the class discussions based on assigned readings and lived experiences and is demonstrating some gains in grasping key concepts covered in class.
  • 6 = Student is occasionally active in class and is demonstrating some learning, but it is clear they are not performing to their full capabilities
  • 4 = Student has missed several classes and/or is not always active when attending class
  • 2 = Student has been absent frequently and/or rarely is active in class
  • 0 = Student has consistently missed class during the rated period

Required Texts:

We will use extensive readings from the following required books in addition to occasional articles and online readings.

  • Bishop, Anne. Becoming An Ally: Breaking the Cycle of Oppression. 2nd edition, 2002. Zed Books. ISBN-10: 1842772252; ISBN-13: 978-1842772256 (the third edition will come out sometime soon, although the biggest revision, which was made to chapter 9, is available online already at: http://www.becominganally.ca/Becoming_an_Ally/Educating_Allies__Ch.html)
  • Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. 2007. Continuum. ISBN: 0826412769

Depending on the decisions of the class regarding how we focus our time during the fourth and final section of the class, we may also be drawing in part or in full from one or both of the following books:

  • Dudley, Michael. Public Libraries and Resilient Cities. 2012. American Library Association Editions. ISBN-10: 0838911366; ISBN-13: 978-0838911365
  • Edwards, Julie Biando, Robinson, Melissa S. , and Unger, Kelley Rae. Transforming Libraries, Building Communities: The Community-Centered Library. 2013. Scarecrow Press. ISBN-10: 0810891816; ISBN-13: 978-0810891814.

Attendance, Participation, and Statement of Inclusion:

Students are expected to attend all class sessions except in case of emergency. If you have an emergency, communicate with the instructor as early as possible to prevent negatively impacting your grade.

The instructor stands in full agreement with the Chancellor’s Commitment Statement (http://www.inclusiveillinois.illinois.edu/chancellordivstmtswf.html#ValuStmt):

As the state’s premier public university, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s core mission is to serve the interests of the diverse people of the state of Illinois and beyond. The institution thus values inclusion and a pluralistic learning and research environment, one which we respect the varied perspectives and lived experiences of a diverse community and global workforce. We support diversity of worldviews, histories, and cultural knowledge across a range of social groups including race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, abilities, economic class, religion, and their intersections.

As such, active participation is therefore expected not only to satisfy requirement to earn course credit, but as a professional courtesy to the class as a communities of practice. Our community of inquiry is vitally enriched when each participant contributes to fieldwork and class discussion by bringing into dialogue their unique perspectives and lived experiences. On the other hand, failure to fully prepare each week for participation in fieldwork and class discussion weakens the community of practice by less-than-fully bringing into dialogue your diverse worldview, history, and cultural knowledge.

Library Resources:

http://www.library.illinois.edu/lsx/; lislib@library.illinois.edu; 217-333-3804

Academic Integrity:

Students should review and follow the University policy on academic integrity, available online at: http://admin.illinois.edu/policy/code/article1_part4_1-402.html. When you submit an assignment, you are certifying that the work is your own, or that of your project group, and that all use of other people’s material is used in accordance to fair use and copyright policies and is properly referenced. With regard to the service-learning component of the class, while your community engagement service time may, and hopefully will, inform a range of academic works completed during your time at Illinois — and beyond in your professional career — submitted academic works (e.g., written reflections, final reports) that arise from the service hours should be unique to this class and should not duplicate in any significant way academic works submitted in fulfillment of requirements for another class unless all parties have entered into discussion and agreed upon such duplication first.

Accessibility Statement:

To obtain accessibility-related academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids, students with disabilities must contact the course instructor and the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) as soon as possible. To contact DRES you may visit 1207 S. Oak St., Champaign, call 333-4603 (V/TTY), or e-mail a message to disability@uiuc.edu.

Organization and Course Calendar:

The following is a tentative chronological list of the main topics that will be covered and required readings (see SP16LIS418AG-Bibliography for full citations). This schedule is subject to change. Please refer to the online course page for the definitive schedule for any given week, including specific readings and assignments that should be completed prior to the class session.

January 20-February 4: Theories of Community & Engagement

  • Community of Inquiry
  • Critical service learning
  • Alternative perspectives of community
  • Alternative perspectives of engagement

Required Readings for Theme:

  • -Is Community Informatics Good for Communities?
  • -The Community of Inquiry: Insights for Public Administration from Jane Addams, John Dewey and Charles S. Pierce
  • -Beyond Service Learning: Toward Community Schools and Reflective Community Learners
  • -What If?
  • -Social Justice in Library and Information Science
  • -Engagement and Two Forms of Social Change
  • -Community Service Learning in the Face of Globalization: Rethinking Theory and Practice
  • -Traditional vs. Critical Service-Learning: Engaging the Literature to Differentiate Two Models
  • -Defining Reflection: Another Look at John Dewey and Reflective Thinking
  • -Race, Culture, and Researcher Positionality: Working through Dangers Seen, Unseen, and Unforeseen
  • -Community
  • -Community Engagement: Definitions and Organizing Concepts from the Literature
  • -Setting the Record Straight: What is Community? And What does it Mean Today?
  • -The Land Ethic
  • -Theories of Community
  • -Who Is The Community?/What Is The Community?
  • -Individuals and Communities: No Man Is an Island
  • -IAP2 Engagement Spectrum
  • -A Ladder of Citizen Participation
  • -A Step-By-Step Guide to ‘Turning Outward’ to Your Community
  • -Libraries Engage Communities
  • -Community-Led Libraries Toolkit (Particularly Overview)
  • -Our Growing Understanding of Community Engagement
  • -Public Engagement: A Primer from Public Agenda
  • -Making Higher Education Civic Engagement Matter in the Community

February 11-March 3: Goals and Principles of Engagement

  • Social Justice and Social Change
  • Capability Approach
  • Popular Education/Liberation
  • Pluralism

Required Readings for Theme

  • -Social Justice, Human Rights, Values, and Community Practice
  • -An Introduction to the Human Development and Capability Approach: Freedom and Agency, Part One
  • -The capability approach and the ‘medium of choice’: steps towards conceptualising information and communication technologies for development
  • -Community Engagement: Definitions and Organizing Concepts from the Literature
  • -Community-based Research and the Two Forms of Social Change
  • -Ideology, Hegemony, Discourse: A Critical Review of Theories of Knowledge and Power
  • -The Common Good
  • -Understanding, Fostering, and Supporting Cultures of Participation
  • -What If?
  • -Pedagogy of the Oppressed
  • -Introduction to “Pilgrimages” and -On the Logic of Pluralist Feminism in “Pilgrimages”
  • -Learning the Grammar of Animacy
  • -Difference as a Resource for Democratic Communication

March 10-April 7: Methods and Evaluation of Engagement

  • Community Inquiry
  • Logic Models & Outcome-based Evaluation
  • Asset-based Community Development
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Stakeholder Alignment

Required Readings for Theme

  • -Becoming an Ally: Breaking the Cycle of Oppression in People
  • -Building Coalitional Consciousness
  • -Valuing the Commons: A Fundamental Challenge across Complex Systems
  • -Charettes 101: Dynamic Planning for Community Change
  • -Collective Impact
  • -Rethinking Collective Impact
  • -Public Engagement: A Primer from Public Agenda
  • -Pragmatism and Community Inquiry: A Case Study of Community-Based Learning
  • -Beyond Service Learning: Toward Community Schools and Reflective Community Learners
  • -The Community of Inquiry: Insights for Public Administration from Jane Addams, John Dewey and Charles S. Pierce
  • -The Methodological Landscape: Information Systems and Knowledge Management
  • -Outcome-based Evaluation
  • -The Logic Model Guidebook
  • -Reflect and Improve
  • -Participatory action research: contributions to the development of practitioner inquiry in education
  • -Introduction to “Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets,”

April 14-April 28: Case Studies – Libraries, Community Engagement, and Social Change

  • Community-led Libraries
  • Libraries Transforming Communities
  • Transforming Libraries, Building Communities
  • Public Libraries and Resilient Cities

Required Readings for Theme (To Be Finalized as a Class)

  • -Community-Led Libraries Toolkit
  • -Libraries Transforming Communities Toolkit
  • -Go Out & Play: Community Engagement through ‘Turning Outward’
  • -2015 Innovations: Civic and Community Engagement
  • -Transforming Libraries, Building Communities
  • -Public Libraries and Resilient Cities
  • -Confronting the Future: Strategic Visions for the 21st-Century Public Library
  • -Creating Spaces for Change: Working Towards a ‘Story of Now’ in Civic Engagement
  • -Libraries and Civic Engagement
Posted in Bibliographies, Community Engagement, Community Informatics, Service-Learning, Syllabi, Teaching | Leave a comment

A Changing Landscape: Amazon, Technology and Engagement?

I appreciate the important distinction Ken is making in this post between engagement as defined within the American library context, and engagement as has been explored over the past 10 years within the Canadian library context. I must admit a strong bias towards the Canadian definition of engagement.

Social Justice Librarian

New Reality for Public Libraries

With the recent announcement by Amazon that it will begin providing a Netflix-type e-book service for $10 a month, allowing individual subscribers to access over 600,000 titles, librarians and library associations are scrambling to justify library services beyond their traditional brand—the book. While there are unresolved issues associated with the new e-book service (e.g. the Big Five publishers are presently opting out), it points to an emerging trend for the future of libraries. Additionally, the question of e-book lending between publishers and public libraries remains unresolved.

As books become more digitized and less central to the overall use of public libraries by members of the public, there are many internal discussions by library staff about resource allocation. This approach is usually influenced by a kind of cost-benefit analysis or contemplation of return on investment (ROI), where library staff are primarily asking, “How does this problem…

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