Sunday, February 2, 2014

Chapter Review: Technologies of Social Regulation: An Examination of Library OPACs and Web Portals

Chapter Review: Technologies of Social Regulation: An Examination of Library OPACs and Web Portals

In their book chapter published in Information Technology in Librarianship, Gloria J. Leckie, Lisa Given, and Grant Campbell examine the effectiveness of library catalogs and Web portals using the lens of regulation theory. They discuss how online library catalogs are currently functioning as well as changes that would make library web portals better. The foundation of the authors' thesis is based around the argument that the current library OPAC is flawed and not user friendly. This, they claim, is largely due to the influence of Fordism, which references standard mode of production and classification based off of the regulated Ford assembly line.  A Fordism philosophy led to the attempted standardization of library catalogs under models like the Library of Congress and, after the advent online catalogs, MARC. Their thesis is maintains that the history of library cataloguing and metadata creation has led to an OPAC which is ineffective for patrons because libraries attempt to regulate and conform their online catalogs. The solution to this problem would be to restructure our catalogs and bibliographic records so they are "more flexible and more embedded in the context of a modern information environment" (251).

This chapter was published in 2009, meaning it was written after the internet and Google already had a strong presence in the average American's life. The book appears to be aimed at mainly at librarians and  information professionals. The title of the book, Information Technology in Librarianship: New Critical Approaches, appeals mainly to librarians. The book was published by Libraries Unlimited, another indicator that a librarian audience was the main focus. The primary author and book editor, Gloria Leckie, is extremely qualified to write on topics relating to libraries; she has co-authored three library information texts, was a LIS professor at Western Ontario University, and, as of a month ago, has been appointed chair of the London Public library system. Grant Campbell, one of her co-authors, is a information and media professor at Western Ontario University; the other, Lisa Given, is a current LIS professor at Charles Stuart University and a former phD student Western Ontario.

The reviews of the book Information Technology in Librarianship, were largely positive. One reviewer in the Canadian Journal of Information and Library Sciences, Rick Kopak, writes "The essays in this collection make a substantial contribution to an area of the library and information science literature that has been woefully underserved"(101). The reviews praised that the book discusses six types of technological critique that are relevant to both librarians and all those interested in technology. I did not find that there were reviews directly related to the "Technologies of Social Regulation". However, an article written in 2011 titled "New labour in libraries: the post-Fordist public library" by Siobhan Stevenson was clearly very much in conversation with this particular book chapter. It spoke to the ideas of regulation theory and Fordism that the Leckie article did, meaning that the article was still read and considered relevant two years after its publication. As this article is still so relevant to today's library and information professional, it leads the modern day information professional to wonder: what changes have been made to library web portals to make them more flexibly designed and intuitive? What changes still need to be made?


Gloria J. Leckie et al., "Technologies of social regulation: An examination of library OPACs and web portals," in Gloria J. Leckie et al. eds, Information Technology in Librarianship: New Critical Approaches (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2008), pp. 221-259.

Kopak, Rick. "Information Technology In Librarianship." Canadian Journal Of Information & Library Sciences 35.1 (2011): 99-101.Professional Development Collection. Web. 2 Feb. 2014.

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"New Library Board Chair, Gloria Leckie | London Public Library." New Library Board Chair, Gloria Leckie | London Public Library. London Public Library, 10 Jan. 2014. Web. 02 Feb. 2014.

Siobhan Stevenson. "New labour in libraries: the post-Fordist public library", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 67 Iss: 5 (2011): pp.773 - 790. Web. 2 Feb 2014

Wisher, Doris. "Review of 'Information Technology in Librarianship: New Critical Approaches'" Journal of Web Librarianship 4.1 (2010): 108-109. Web. 2 Feb. 2014 (accessed February 2, 2014) (accessed February 2, 2014)

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