So far we have examined inquiries, retrieval, becoming informed, and the demand for library services. Apart from occasional remarks, we have not considered what we might well have started with: What sorts of library services are provided, and why? Or, rather, more analytically: What determines what sorts of services are provided? In order to tackle this question we shall adopt the convenient strategy of starting with some simple and naive assumptions in order to reach a simplified explanation. Then we shall gradually discard these assumptions during this chapter and the next in an attempt to match the complexity of reality more closely.
The scale and nature of a library's services are determined by the allocation of resources to and within the library service. We include the setting of priorities as being a part of the allocation process, since determining that support of one activity should take priority over another is tantamount to a preferential allocation of resources. As resources we include anything that could have been used in other ways: money, buildings, effort, equipment, and staff time.
The ability to make and enforce regulations can in itself be seen as a kind of resource. Like other sorts of resources, regulations are used as means for achieving ends. To some extent, regulations are substitutable for other resources. For example, the ability to enforce loan periods of a limited duration has an effect on the availability of library books comparable (though not identical) to the expenditure of additional money to buy duplicate copies. One may even be able to make a very crude estimate of the amount of money saved by specific regulations. 1
Note that we are discussing what is provided not what is used. One cannot make people use particular library services. Nevertheless, decisions are made as to what particular services are to be provided, to what extent they are to be provided, and with what relative priorities. It is essentially a process of allocation of resources and of priorities. The allocation to the library determines the overall scale of operations, the allocation within the library affects the detailed mixture of specific services, and the mixture of services implies and supports the mission of the library. 2
We assume that libraries are services provided by some for others. Usually, but not always, the funding for libraries is derived, directly or indirectly, from public funds, i.e., from taxpayers. This is most clearly seen in the case of public libraries and school libraries. The situation is more complicated with university libraries where tuition fees, donations, and overheads on research grants are also sources of university income. Most of the income, however, derives directly or indirectly from public funds. In corporations, library services are commonly offered as a support service and are included in the cost of doing business.
In the next chapter, we shall consider fees as a basis for the provision of library services and some of the implications of moving in that direction. Meanwhile, we start by confining our attention to the limited but typical situation wherein library services are not provided on a commercial basis, but are free in the sense that they are supported by resources which are not derived directly from the users. The users of public libraries do, in effect, pay for the services, by and large, but the connection is indirect: The users may be paying in their capacity as payers of local taxes but not because they are users.
The process of allocation to and within library serviceswhen on a noncommercial basisis a political process. This does not imply that all decisions are made through formal political parties, elections, and the like but, rather, that we regard politics as having to do with who gets what, who controls the decisions about who gets what, and how control is exercised in practice.
Webster's definition of political process is, "the process of the formulation and administration of public policy usually by interaction between social groups and political institutions or between political leadership and public opinion." 3 Although this refers primarily to the affairs of cities, states, and nations, it appears reasonable to follow common practice in extending it to universities, corporations, and other organizations in which resources are allocated.
Diffusion, subversion, and compromise
Having defined allocation as a political process, we now examine the structure of the process more closely and consider some of the factors likely to affect the process in practice.
Diffusion and management
There is a distinctionat least in theorybetween those who allocate resources to the library (e.g., city council, university president) and the person responsible for administering the library, who allocates resources within the library. In theory, this distinction need not matter since the library director might have complete comprehension of and agreement with the intentions of those who allocated the money to the library, and the latter might have adequate technical understanding of what is involved in using the resources to achieve their goals. Such perfection of unanimity and common understanding, however, seems highly improbable in practice, and the director of the library is likely not only to have slightly different preferences but also a degree of latitude and discretion in the allocation within the library. In this way, the allocation process can be said to have been extended downwards.
Six factors make for a further diffusion of responsibility for allocation among those who are employed in the library:
- Libraries are labor-intensive. In the United States, more than half of a library's budget is ordinarily spent on labor costs.
- The organizational structures that prevail are largely hierarchical.
- Larger library services are commonly decentralized geographically for the convenience of users.
- Some degree of division or, rather, specialization, of labor is normal.
- Precise, adequate, agreed measures of service are lacking.
- The effects of providing service are unclear. 4
This combination of factors means that responsibility for decision making becomes diffused, since many of the decisions concerning details are delegated, often to geographically dispersed areas. (We take "details" to include book selection and the detailed deployment of staff time, e.g., priorities within and between the general areas of helping users directly and of "housekeeping." Although individual decisions may be small in import, we do not wish to suggest that collectively they are unimportant.) Supervision and control by the library director are made more diffuse by the hierarchical levels, by the lack of accepted operational measures of library goodness, and, often, by the superior technical skills or greater local knowledge of those supervised. Since labor is a major part of the allocatable resources, it follows that anybody with any discretion over the deployment of his or her own time shares in the allocation process.
It is clear, then, that the implementation process tends to be widely diffused. In the same sense, insofar as management includes taking decisions which include the deployment of resources and priorities in order to get things done, one could also say that management is also very diffused in library practice. In effect, one can correctly describe the allocation process as a political and managerial process.
Displacement, approximation, and subversion
The diffusion of responsibility for the allocation of resources and priorities make the allocation process vulnerable to distortion in two sorts of ways:
- The very diffusion places a strain on the communication of the values and goals motivating those who allocated resources to the library. In the communication and interpretation of these values, some distortion is to be expected.
- Consciously or unconsciously, different people will tend to bias the selection of values and the choice of means of implementation in accordance with their own preferences. They may feel, quite consciously, that the official intentions are unrealistic, and quietly go about interpreting or implementing them in a way that accords more closely to their own sense of values and of the situation, with or without their own self-interest influencing this process. This distortion or adaptation of official intentions may or may not be beneficial from the users' perspective. 5
A special case of goal displacement can result from concentration on a part of the service rather than on the whole. For example, devoting much expensive labor to very detailed cataloging or to investment in extensive special collections are both desirable when seen in isolation. Yet, at some stage, allocating increased resources to either could interfere with other more central purposes of the library service. This sort of problem can follow from undue emphasis on proximate measures of goodnessthose that measure something that is close at hand and relatively easy to measure, rather than distal measures more concerned with the overall, ultimate purpose of the organization.
In the context of library services, one can think of various possibilities for goal displacement or goal subversion: 6 Fines might come to be treated as a source of income rather than a control device to induce the return of books and, if so, might be set so high as to discourage use of the library; the development of special collections could be beyond (and at the expense of) the reasonable needs of the library's users; one group of users might be given preferential service at the expense of more basic service to other groups of users; perfectionist recordkeeping or timeconsuming participation in professional associations could benefit the librarians more than the users.
In any given case, such "goal displacement" might be considered an improvement or a deterioration according to one's perspective. Our present purpose is to analyze, not to evaluate. Hence, we make no judgment as to whether or not the subverting of official goals would lead to a better library service. Indeed, such adaptation is quite likely to be an improvement from the users' perspective since library staff who are low in the hierarchy are often in closer contact with the users. The important point is to recognize that this process of goal displacement is endemic. It can be seen, for example, in the selection of books that are of personal interest to the librarians rather than to the users. To the extent that employees act in accordance with their beliefs, some degree of goal displacement is to be expected. 7 The difficulty in defining and measuring the objectives and performance of library services is unhelpful in this regard.
We have assumed, thus far, that there is one set of values and one dominant goal for any given library service. This is inherently unlikely even if only because libraries ordinarily serve groups whose interests do not entirely coincide. A university library service that suits professors best is not necessarily the one that would suit undergraduates best, even though there is substantial overlap. A public library service that emphasized service to local business and industry would not be of most help to local historians or to teenagers. The result is necessarily a compromise involving service to different groups simultaneously. However, it is unlikely to be just any, accidental compromise. Instead, the mixture of services will reflect, albeit rather imperfectly, the values and preferences of those who have been doing the allocation at all levels.
Mission, objective, and goal
Unfortunately, the terms for describing what one is seeking to achieve are inconsistently used: mission, objective, goal, target, aim, and so on. The best that can be done, if one wishes to use such terms precisely, is to specify explicitly the sense in which one is using each term and not to assume that others will adopt the same definitions.
A serious practical and theoretical problem is how to link or "articulate" the values which guide the initial allocation of resources in such a way that they also guide the detailed day-to-day practical decisions of the library staff. In order to consider this problem of relating decisions concerning what should be done to values and goals, we first present an example of a formal approach using three levels of statement. The example relates to a university library, but examples relating to other sorts of libraries would be similar enough to permit this example to be used as a basis for a general discussion of the problems involved. 8
Level I: Mission statement
A mission statement is a broad definition of what business the library is in. What is the sphere of activity of the library? This should be a general and generally acceptable, definition of the role of the library, e.g., "To meet the informational requirements of the total university community."
Level II: Objectives
In order to articulate day-to-day work with the mission statement, it is convenient to spell out a list of sorts of activities the library attempts to perform in the pursuit of its mission. This list of objectives should be helpful in perceiving more clearly the best choice of specific tasks in relation to the mission. The list of objectives should be comprehensive, and might include:
- To assess the informational requirements of the university community on a continuing basis by formal and informal interaction with all other elements of the university community.
- To select from available information that portion most applicable to the requirements of the university community.
- To acquire, organize, and arrange these informational resources in a manner and in a physical setting most conducive to their use.
- To interpret and publicize an additional range of informational and educative services in order to increase the benefits of the library to all members of the university community.
- To make available, interpret, and publicize an additional range of informational resources and services by active collaboration with other institutions through interlibrary loan, information networks, and cooperative arrangements.
- To study the operations and services provided by the library to assure effective use of available resources.
- To present and interpret to the funders the fiscal and other needs of the library.
- To provide an environment in which to develop and maintain a capable staff.
- To anticipate and plan for future developments in the informational needs and services which are likely to affect the university community.
Level III: Performance goals
Levels I and II are related to the library as a whole and deal with general statements. There remains the question of specific goals for individual units (or individuals) within the library. These are usually intended to serve as guidelines for day-to-day decisions concerning priorities for the use of time and other resources. They can also be used as yardsticks with which to assess performance and results. Examples tend to be specific and measurable:To check in and distribute all current serials on a same-day basis.
To reshelve most returned books within four working hours.
To continue the revision of catalog records, aiming to cover letters D through F by July.
Three problems arise concerning the mission, objectives, and goal of library services:
- Libraries ordinarily serve a larger organization which supports them, e.g, university, school, corporation, or city or county. Social values and social goals are generally difficult to define in practical ways. Hence, schools, cities, and universities have difficulty in defining their own missions in any other than vague ways. Libraries, in turn, can define their missions as being to support the mission of their sponsoring bodies. If anything, this is likely to be even vaguer than the mission of the sponsoring body since the nature of the support also needs to be clarified. It is to be expected that the mission of the library will be at least as difficult to define as the mission of the sponsoring body.
- At the other end of the spectrum from mission to goals, there is the endemic problem that the lower-level goals will come to lose their articulation with the upper-level mission and objectives. This is the more likely since, in practice, people tend to develop formal performance goals rarely and to use them even more rarely. The less close the coordination, the more goal displacement is to be expected. Means may become ends.
- At any level, there is the likelihood that objectives and goals will be left unrevised as circumstances change. This is not simply a matter of updating written statements which tend to be ignored anyway but, rather, the need to reconsider the continuing appropriateness of the bases for allocation whether they have been written down or not.
The separation of allocation and use
The separation of allocation from use has been repeatedly mentioned, notably in chapter 10. The Golden Rule expresses the situation with respect to allocation very aptly: "He (or she) who provides the gold, makes the rule!" However, this simplistic assertion needs to be qualified in various ways. We have already noted that the rules may be interpreted and subverted in the process of implementation. The use of services can be permitted, but cannot be mandated. The users can influence the allocation in the sense that heavy use of a particular service is likely (though not certain) to result in an increased allocation to that service lest the service collapse under the strain imposed on it. Contrariwise, a service that receives little or no usage is likely (though not certain) to result in a reduced allocation or even discontinuation. This is to be expected when the allocators emphasize the beneficial effects of usage rather than the mere provision of an opportunity to use a service. Users may well be actively involved in the political process that determines the allocation. They can, therefore, be influential. However, this influence arises from their involvement in the political process rather than from the fact that they are users. The fact that they are users, however, is likely to add legitimacy to their statements. The involvement of users in the political process tends to be sporadic and unrepresentative but, commonly, influential. Conscientious allocators are likely to be actively interested in users' views and, indeed, solicit them systematically. And, of course, users may share in the decision making if they contribute "gold." (We consider the effect of user fees in more detail in the next chapter.)
In the next section we consider the values and preferences that influence decisions concerning allocation and, therefore, the provision of services.
On the philosophy of librarianship
J. P. Danton, in his "Plea for a Philosophy of Librarianship," wrote, "The sad truth of the matter is that the profession has not concerned itself with evolving or even thinking about a philosophy." 9 Pleas such as that of Danton have not met with much response. 10 In this section we consider he notion of "philosophy" in relation to library service and then consider some evidence of its existence.
Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged offers a number of definitions of "philosophy." The definition which would seem most meaningful in the phrase "philosophy of librarianship" is: "A system of motivating beliefs, concepts, and principles." This definition is followed by the illustrative quotations:The philosophy of a culture determines the general pattern of its ... institutions.
Three philosophies contending for dominance in contemporary politics.
The changing philosophy of the courts with regard to many questions. Set the ... philosophy and the basic course of the museum.
There is also a closely related definition: "Basic theory concerning a particular subject, process, or sphere of activity ... usually used with (philosophy of religion) (philosophy of education)." This definition has the following illustrative quotations:Design philosophy in chemical plants.
The whole philosophy of the bill is to ignore the realities.
A chance to prove my philosophy of flying the mail.
Automation is a completely new philosophy of production.
This second definition is somewhat ambiguous in that it is not entirely clear whether or not the philosophy is deemed to be somewhat value-laden (as the first definition clearly is) or whether it is deemed to reflect a value-free understanding of the processes involved. If it is the latter, then it is synonymous with "theory" as we have used it in chapter 5. If it is value-ladenat least in partthen it overlaps significantly with the first definition.
We shall, therefore, use the first definition: "A system of motivating beliefs, concepts, and principles" to denote the philosophy of librarianship and to distinguish it from the "theory" of librarianship as defined in chapter 5.
There remains a further problem of definition in that "librarianship" can be regarded as denoting either a body of knowledge or a group of professionals. In this case, our definition of philosophy will be seen to impel us toward the latter definition.
Librarianship as value-free technique
A philosopher, asked whether he was for or against a particular invention, replied that he thought the question itself was a curious one. The invention, he declared, was a mere implementas was a hammer. He would be neither "for" or "against" a hammer, since as an implement it was a neutral object. If the hammer were to be used, then his attitude would relate to the intended use of the hammer. One might well approve of the use of a hammer to repair a roof but not to commit murder. One might also feel that a given use of a hammer might not constitute the most appropriate choice of the implement for the purpose intendedfor example, for driving screws into wood. The use rather than the implement should be the object of moral appraisal. 11
The technology and skills of librarianship are like a hammer. They are tools of implementation. There would seem no way to view them with approval or disapprovalonly their use and their appropriateness to the purpose in relation to other options available.
Librarianship as a value-laden activity
It will be argued that library service, the use of technology and skills, is and must necessarily be deeply value-laden, in the sense that uses are involved which relate positively or negatively to social values.
Library services are provided by people who work within the policies and guidelines set by themselves and/or by other people. Since people have sets of values it would seem inherently unlikely that these values do not influence the decisions about the allocation of time and other resources and the priorities in service between the options available.
It is in the context of the present chapter that we need to move a step further and ask which (or whose) values?and whose definitions of beneficial effects? In relation to whose goals can the effects be expected to be beneficial? Not everyone will agree that there are universal immutable values which are beneficial, independent of an independent human sense of values. Even if it were so agreed, whose definition or interpretation of those values is to be adopted? In the absence of agreed interpretations of agreed universal values, we must select. Two very important questions are raised: upon what criteria (i.e., value system) is the allocation to be based? and who gets to do the allocating?
The answer to the first question would seem to depend, in practice, on the answer to the second. The answer to the second is not entirely straightforward. A simple answer would seem to be that it is the funders: He who pays the pipers calls the tune! But a rather complex situation obtains in practice:
- The funders are not unconstrained: there are laws concerning the use of resources.
- The allocation of resources to the library will depend on the number, needs, and perceived relative importance of other, alternative possible uses of the resources, and the extent to which resources are available. 12
- In a complex, labor-intensive situation, such as library service, many people may be involved in the allocation of resources, especially as their own time during working hours is one of the principal resources. Anybody working in a library, then, who has any discretion over the allocation of his or her own working time between two or more priorities can be said to be sharing in some part in the allocation of resources within the library service. To take an extreme, but not unthinkable case, a library employee who does his or her own personal work on library time can be said to be allocating (more strictly, perhaps, diverting) resources away from the library as a result of placing a higher value on personal benefits than on the benefits that would derive from the performance of the assigned library tasks.
We can, therefore, answer the question concerning who gets to do the allocating by stating that it is likely to be a lot of people, including: those with the political power to make laws; those who decide how great the resources of the library's parent-body (city, university, company, school, etc.) will be; those who, for any given library service, allocate resources between it and other alternative uses of those resources; and those who manage and suballocate resources within the options available for the detailed employment within the library service.
The set of people who do the allocating, therefore, not only includes those who influence general social priorities and the governing authorities of libraries' parent organizations, but also those who manage and those who staff the library service. As in any organization, it is entirely possible for the staff who are ostensibly employed to implement official goals to subvert the goals of those who allocated resources to the library. However, in this context, "subvert" is a value-laden way of referring to the adoption of a different set of values. Hence, what may appear as "subversion" from one perspective may appear to be an improvement from another perspective, being good or bad according to one's choice of values.
In summary, we conclude that the provision of library services necessarily and unavoidably reflects the social valuesthe "motivating beliefs, concepts, and principles"of people, and probably of many different people.
Dissension over the choice of values is at a minimum in the case of a private collector using his or her own resources for his or her pleasure. Outside of such purely personal collections, however, library services are provided by some for the benefit of others. Although the librarian (and some of the users) may be able to satisfy some feelings of bibliophily through collecting materials for a university library or other collection, this is likely to be merely incidental to the provision of library services. Recognition that the guiding value is likely to be something more than bibliophily brings us back to consideration of what the determinants of library service might be.
One value is the desire to preserve unique specimens for the future. This value manifests itself in many forms of preservation: museums, archives, historical monuments, nature refuges, and libraries. However, outside of national libraries and the special collections departments of public and academic libraries, this is likely to be a small part of the mission of any given library. The archival role of libraries is generally accepted as being important, but it would be difficult to sustain the argument that more than a small percentage of current expenditures is needed for it.
Institutional pride as a value may lead to the acquisition of choice items but this, again, is unlikely to constitute a major element in expenditures. It is more likely that the library's budget and resources are seen as a suitable means toward some sort of increase in knowledge or in happiness valued by the sponsoring body.
- A school principal can be expected to support a school library to the extent to which it is perceived as improving the education of school children, whether directly or in collaboration with the teachers.
- A university president can be expected to support a university library if the services (and their use) appear to foster learning and discovery by both faculty and students.
- The chief executive officer of a corporation can be expected to be willing to support a library service if there is reason to believe that employeesengineers, marketing specialists, personnel officer, etc.would be noticeably more effective as the result of becoming better informed through the library service.
- A city council is likely to support a library service if a better-informed citizenry is desired and if it is felt the library is contributing to that end.
However, in all such cases, and other similar cases, the actual choices to be made may be quite specific. It may be felt that professors warrant more support than students, or that some disciplines should have more support than others: or do-it-yourself books and traditional cultural interests may seem to be more valuable than recreational reading and contemporary political controversies. Further, if library services are to be supported for these reasons, then they will also have to be perceived as being cost-effective in achieving those values. Otherwise, the sponsors couldindeed shouldallocate their resources away from library services to other means perceived to be more cost- effective, such as increased formal instruction.
It is not, therefore, that philosophy of librarianship is absent but that it is endemic and pervasive.
Philosophy of librarianship in action
In the United States and in the United Kingdom, there is a general, if rather vague, consensus concerning the philosophy of the public library. The public library is seen as serving educational and recreational goals which include the socially desirable goal of a well- informed citizenry. 13 A Western democracy, it is argued in the United States, depends on an informed electorate. The public library, along with newspapers, radio, and television not controlled by the government (and not monopolized by anyone else) are important social institutions in the pursuit of this desired political goal. Another socially valuable goal ascribed the public library is that of being the "poor man's university." Even with the enormous investment in the provision of formal education in the United States and in the United Kingdom, the role of public libraries in facilitating informal educationfor freehas been traditionally perceived as important and desirable. (Our present purpose is not to assess the extent of achievement of these goals, but to identify beliefs, concepts, and principles which are held and which are influential.) It should not surprise us that surveys reveal that people who do not themselves use their local public library believe that public libraries are desirable, important, and worthy of their own tax-derived financial support. Such apparently altruistic support follows naturally from the prevailing philosophy of the public library and goes beyond the self-interested notion of an "insurance attitude" whereby people support what they themselves might one day want to use. Similar, but less altruistic, is the belief that library services, like education, would make society safer by keeping people out of mischief. 14 Support from tax funds is appropriate, the belief is, because the existence of public libraries helps to achieve a philosophy concerning society.
As a strong contrast in political philosophy, communist countries also tend to be very supportive of libraries. It is not simply that Marx used the British Museum Library to write Das Kapital. Lenin and his wife, N. K. Krupskaya, herself a librarian, were ardent supporters of libraries.(The library in the USSR is a) cultural institution which helps the reader to understand the philosophy of dialectical materialism and gain genuine scientific knowledge, and assists him in the training of (skilled) manpower for the building of socialism. ... In all phases of construction of the socialist state libraries closely link their work with the most important political and economic tasks. Libraries assist the party in the Communist education of the masses, in arming them with Marxist-Leninist theory, in educating the people with the spirit of Soviet patriotism, loyalty and love for their socialist motherland and of the Communist attitude toward work. 15
Lenin himself wrote:We must use the experience of other countries of capitalist countries, in every way we can; in technical reconstruction, in technical service to readers we must borrow all that we can. But we must build our own librarya library of a different kind, more in keeping with our socialist way of life. 16
The deployment of resources within public libraries in communist countries can be expected to vary in detail from typical public libraries of the United States and the United Kingdomnotably in terms of what is included and what is excluded. The basis for the difference can be attributed in large part to the difference in guiding philosophy.
Libraries in educational institutions are deeply influenced by both pedagogical values and political forces. A system which does not emphasize individualized learning in its educational philosophy is unlikely to emphasize the allocation of resources to libraries. Even where an emphasis on school libraries is well established, as in California, the retention of resources in times of retrenchment depends significantly on the educational value placed on libraries and on librarians within the school district, and this tends to reflect the extent to which the librarian has positively influenced the thinking of the principal, teachers, school board members, and other politically influential groups. Whether the influence may have been consciously and deliberately built or whether it followed unprompted from service that was perceived to be beneficialprobably, in practice, a combination of boththe presence or absence of positive concepts, beliefs, and principles with respect to the library can be expected to determine substantially the future resources of the library service. 17
In universities, a key variable in the provision of library service is the political power of the professors and their beliefs, concepts, and principles. An extreme of this can be seen in some Austrian and West German universities in the allocation of resources for library services to separate "libraries" for each institute, with each professor, (i.e., "ordinarius" or "full" professor) having his or her own institute. Few professional librarians or government officials believe this to be an effective sort of deployment of resources for library service, but the philosophy of the professors differs and the professors have had the political power to prolong this decentralization. More generally, in the United States and in the United Kingdom, the endemic growth of departmental libraries and the (usually) much superior library privileges of faculty can be regarded as reflecting the reality of academic power rather than the orthodoxies of the librarians who usually oppose the growth of departmental libraries. 18
Clear evidence of philosophy guiding library provision can be seen in selection and censorship issues. Librarians in school and public libraries like school teachersare particularly susceptible to attack on the grounds that an item in the collection is at variance with the educational, religious, or social philosophy of somebody. 19 This is only to be expected. Since the offending situation is the result of a political process, political pressures are likely to be used to change it.
Further, it is on philosophical grounds that librarians as a profession tend to be heavily opposed (at least in theory) to censorship. It is the American Library Association that runs what is said to be the only foundation in the United States devoted exclusively to the freedom to read. In practice, it would seem that librarians tend to exert some degree of self-imposed censorship, partly to forestall cruder censorship that might be imposed by others. 20
Yet another illustration of the influence of philosophy as a guiding influence is the allocation of library resources with respect to the interests of minorities. In California, the development of special collections and serviceseven separate branches of public librariesspecializing in service to minority groups, such as Chinese and Spanish-speaking communities, is a relatively recent development. It reflects a change in priorities in social values on the part of those responsible for public library services. This, in turn, reflects a change in the general political climate of the communities concerned. Even if it could be demonstrated that such provision may sometimes have been a reluctant concession to political pressures and contrary to the "philosophy" of library administrators and library boards, the thesis that politics and social values drive the allocation of resources for library services still stands. In other cases, the library administration may well have been more in favor of such provision than the community. Either way, the thesis that politics and social values dominate remains; and whose values get priority (and how) tells us something about the nature of the political power and political processes in any given situation.
Philosophy as an inexorable feature of librarianship
It used to be fashionable in Great Britain to assert the neutrality and independence of librarians. The slogan "no religion, no politics, and no morals" reflects this stance. 21 What is not always clearly understood is that such an attitude is, in itself, a philosophy. Either it reflects a libertarian, laissez-faire stance or else it indicates a conscious attempt to withdraw from imposing personal values. The latter course is not feasible since librarians are, by the very nature of their work, constantly deciding about priorities. This can only constitute an attempt to opt out of what will remain a continuing activity since, if the librarian is not to make decisions concerning priorities, then he or she must unavoidably be adopting the priorities and values of others which then determine how things are done. Opting out of the determination of priorities is just that: Priorities will still have to be determined by somebody.
A more prevalent event than opting out is the failure to review what the priorities are and to consider whether there may be a mismatch between what the priorities are supposed to be and what is actually happening and whether either or both ought not to be revised. 22
It follows inexorably from the definition of philosophy as "a system of motivating beliefs, concepts, and principles" and from the unavoidable necessity of continuously resolving questions of priority that some sort of a philosophy of librarianship informs each library situation whether recognized or not. It follows, further, that anyone interested in library services whether as a provider or as a user would be well advised to examine what sort of philosophy is implied by the actual allocation of resources and how coherently and consistently the prevailing philosophy is effected in practice. In other words, what are the actual goals of the organization and how cost-effective is it in achieving them?
The distinctive role of libraries with respect to social values
So far, we have not said anything that could not be regarded as being generally applicable to all sorts of organizations. Libraries, however, do have some distinctive characteristics with respect to their social role. This follows from the combination of their role in providing access to recorded knowledge and the social usefulness of knowledge.
It is an old slogan that "knowledge is power" and certainly knowledge can be an asset. The more one can acquire useful knowledge and reduce one's harmful ignorance, the better one is likely to fare, whether one is developing professional expertise, exercising one's civil rights, acquiring useful skills, or finding out about the activities (actual or potential) of others who may be in a position to influence one's life.
Libraries have no monopoly on assisting in these matters, but, because they are in the business of providing access to recorded knowledge and because they ordinarily do so at no financial charge, libraries do have an opportunity to play a distinctive role in the distribution of knowledge and of benefits in society. How effective this role is and in which direction the distribution is going will depend in large part on the location, nature, and extent of the service being providedin other words, on the allocation of resources. Further, since political power and knowledge are unequally distributed in practice (in universities and in corporations as in communities) and since different emphases in service are appropriate for different groups, what is beneficial for one group may not coincide with what is beneficial for another and may even be against the best interests of others. 23 Diverting funds for little-used research materials in a university library into multiple copies of textbooks for undergraduates illustrates one such conflict of interest. In a public library, the balance between information services for local businesses and the provision of "survival information" for disadvantaged groups is another. These conflicts of interest exist and need to be recognized but they should not be allowed to obscure the basic issue which is that libraries, like the press, affect the dispersion of knowledge and, as such, have a potentially important role to play in the development of society. The provision of library service is, then, a means of exercising influence. Providing library services in foreign countries is, therefore, a sensible element of national foreign policy, reflecting an interesting mixture of altruism, self-interest, and conscious propaganda. 24
In pursuit of the philosophy of librarianship
Having argued that philosophyin the sense of systems of motivating beliefs, concepts, and principlesmust necessarily pervade the provision of library services, it is reasonable to inquire how one might examine these philosophical bases more clearly. The following approaches would seem worth pursuing.
Political analysis of the motivations and consequences (not necessarily the same!) associated with the present and any proposed patterns of service would seem to be basic. The phrase "political analysis" is used on the grounds that politics is, by definition, concerned with who gets to deploy resources and how. "Policy analysis," "social analysis," and other similar phrases tend to mean much the same sort of thing. Arguably, such analyses cannot be entirely objective since we all have our individual motivating beliefs, concepts, and principles. What follows is not that political analysis should be avoided, but that analyses should be accepted as being less than fully objective.
The study of library provision, and especially of library management, needs to be recognized as being simultaneously political and technical. It is not only a matter of being involved in the determination of priorities, there are also serious problems in determining how effectively the provision achieves in practice the intended priorities. How consistent are the policies and practices with the objectives and with each other? For this, the deeper our theoretical understanding of how libraries work and how they are used, the more powerful our tools of analysis will be. Preparing professionals with only the techniques of retrieval is clearly to cover only half of what they will be involved in doing.
It is here, perhaps, that the comparative study of library services will really come into a much more significant role than it has hitherto. Danton recognized this: "The major aims and objectives of librarianship as of any constituent of human society, must be derived from the predominating ideals of that society." 25 In consequence how different must of necessity be the organization, administration, functions, aims, and hence philosophical bases of librarianship in, for example, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and the United States." 26
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1 M. K. Buckland, Book Availability and the Library User (New York: Pergamon Press, 1975), chapter 7.
2 Charles McCarthy, 1873-1921, who allocated resources at the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library in such a way as to influence what legislation was passed, provides a good illustration. M. Casey, Charles McCarthy: Librarianship and Reform (Chicago: American Library Association, 1981).
3 Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, unabridged (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam Co., 1971).
4 In these and other ways, libraries have the characteristics of 'human service organizations.' For an excellent review of these characteristics see Y. Hasenfeld, Human Service Organizations (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1983).
5 See P. K. Tompkins and G. Cheney, "Communication and Unobtrusive Control in Contemporary Organizations," in Organizational Communication: Traditional Themes and New Directions edited by R. D. McPhee and P. K. Tompkins (Sage Annual Reviews of Communications Research, 13) (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1985), pp. 179-210, esp. 187; Y. Hasenfeld, Human Services Organizations (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1983), chapter 4.
6 For general introduction to goal displacement, see A. Etzioni, Modern Organizations (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964), esp. P. 10.
7 For a case-study in which it is implied that the librarians in a public library allowed their own professional values to subvert the use of resources away from the best interests of the users (in the authors' opinion), see F. Levy, A. J. Meltsner and A. Wildavsky, Urban Outcomes: Schools, Streets, and Libraries (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), pp. 165-218.
8 This material is a revised version of that found in J. Baaske et al., A Management Review and Analysis of Purdue University Libraries and Audio-Visual Center (West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University, Libraries and Audio Visual Center, 1973), pp. 34-7. This report was one of several that resulted from the use of the Management Review and Analysis Program (MRAP) in more than twenty large research libraries in North America. The program, developed by the Office of Management Studies of the Association of Research Libraries, is a do-it-yourself kit for studying and improving management functions in large research libraries. The kit itself, the MRAP "manual," is not yet publicly available (March 1982), but for a general description and evaluation see E. R. Johnson and S. H. Mann, Organization Development for Academic Libraries: An Evaluation of the Management Review and Analysis Program (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980). See also D. E. Webster, "The Management Review and Analysis Program: An Assisted Self-study to Secure Constructive Change in the Management of Research Libraries," College and Research Libraries 35 (March 1974): 114-25; M. K. Buckland, ed., "The Management Review and Analysis Program: A Symposium," Journal of Academic Librarianship 1, no. I (January 1976): 4-14.
9 J. P. Danton, "Plea for a Philosophy of Librarianship," Library Quarterly 4, no. 4 (October 1934): 527-51. (Reprinted in American Library Philosophy: An Anthology, selected by B. McCrimmon (Hamden, Conn.: Shoe String Press, 1975).) Cf., J. Thompson: "The library profession must establish a philosophy, or philosophies. It must cast off to a large extent the all-pervading emphasis on technical matters, an emphasis which had its origins in the United States. From Dewey onwards we have had a succession of American experts on cataloguing, on library buildings, on storage methods, on circulation systems. We have been bowled over by American expertise and 'professionalism.' This kind of 'professionalism' has its place, but it becomes absurd when it is employed in a philosophical vacuum, and when it distracts attention from considerations of what a library is, what roles it should play, and what a librarian should aim to be." J. Thompson, Library Power: A New Philosophy of Librarianship (Hamden, Conn.: Linnet Books, 1974), p. 70.
10 A remarkable exception is A. Broadfield, A Philosophy of Librarianship (London: Grafton, 1949), which examines the implications for librarianship of adopting a radically liberal point of view. See also J. M. Christ, Toward a Philosophy of Educational Librarianship (Littleton, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1972).
11 For an extended discussion of the evaluation of bibliographical tools using references to hammers by way of illustration, see T. Hodges, "Forward Citation Indexing: Its Potential for Bibliographic Control" (Ph.D. dissertation. University of California, Berkeley, School of Librarianship, 1972. University Microfilms order no. BGD73-16787.) Chapter 11: "Factors in Evaluation."
12 For a description of how severe the constraints can be see A. Olden, "Sub-Saharan Africa and the Paperless Society," Journal of the American Society for Information Science 38, no. 4 (July 1987): 298-304. Also M. Crowder, "The Book Crisis: Africa's Other Famine," in Africa Bibliography, edited by H. Blackhurst (Manchester, Eng.: Manchester University Press, 1986), pp. xvi-xxi.
13 For a more critical analysis of public library goals see M. H. Harris, "State, Class, and Cultural Reproduction: Toward a Theory of Library Service in the United States," Advances in Librarianship 14 (1986): 211-52 and a review of it: D. Bergen, Library and Information Science Research 9, no. 2 (April-June 1987): 71- 5. Also R. V. Williams, "The Public Library as a Dependent Variable: Historically Oriented Theories and Hypotheses of Public Library Development," Journal of Library History 16, no. 2 (Spring 1981): 32941.
14 For a mid-nineteenth-century statement of this belief, see "Imprisonment and Transportation. No. 1. The Increase of Crime," Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine 55, no. 343 (May 1844): 533-45. "Next it was said, that education would lay the axe to the root of crime; that ignorance was the parent of vice; and, by diffusing the schoolmaster, you would extinguish the greater part of the wickedness which afflicted society; that the providing of cheap, innocent, and elevating amusements for the leisure hours of the working-classes, would prove the best antidote to their degrading propensities; and that then, and then only, would crime really be arrested, when the lamp of knowledge burned in every mechanic's workshop, in every peasant's cottage," p. 540.
15 Bol'shaya sovetskaya entsiklopediya (Great Soviet Encyclopedia), 2nd ed. (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe Nauchnoe Izdatel'stvo. 1956), pp.' 140-1. As quoted in P. L. Horecky, Libraries and Bibliographic Centers in the Soviet Union (Washington, D.C.: Council on Library Resources, 1959), p. 2.
16 Quoted in S. Simsova, ed., Lenin, Krupskaia and Libraries (London: Clive Bingley, 1968), p. 46.
17 A study of the effects on six public libraries in California of severe cuts in local government spending showed that "the libraries that were most active in their efforts to influence their environment suffered the least drastic budget cuts." S. Shoham, Organizational Adaptation by Public Libraries (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1984).
18 For an examination of the role of U.S. university library directors in relation to their environment see J. R. Euster, The Academic Library Director: Management Activities and Effectiveness (New York: Greenwood Press, 1987).
19 There is the practical problem of identifying the materials that one's philosophy leads one to regard as pernicious. Jenkinson gives examples from a list of words and phrases (e.g., academic freedom, inductive method, self-understanding, world view) designed to help parents identify for removal school books that might harm their children by encouraging humanism. E. B. Jenkinson, Censors in the Classroom: The Mind Benders (Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1979).
20 For a convenient review of intellectual freedom and censorship of library materials see D. K. Berninghausen, "Intellectual Freedom in Librarianship: Advances and Retreats," Advances in Librarianship 9 (1979): 1-29. For a discussion of censorship by both librarians ("book burying") and others ("book burning"), see M. P. Farris, "My Client is the Moral Majority," Barrister 9, no. 2 (Spring 1982); 12- 15. A live recording of a public hearing on August 26, 1968, before the Richmond, California, City Council concerning whether an underground newspaper and like material should be removed from the Richmond Public Library was issued as a phonodisc entitled "What Shall They Read?" (Pacifica Archive Record 024) by Pacifica Foundation (KPFA, Berkeley, California, 1968). For additional material on censorship by librarians, see M.Fiske, Book Selection and Censorship: A Study of Schools and Public Libraries in California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959); E. Geller, "The Librarian as Censor," Library Journal 101, no. 11 (June 1, 1976): 1255-8; K. Donelson, "Shoddy and Pernicious Books," Library Quarterly 51, no. I (1981): 4-19; and L. B. Woods and C. Perry-Holmes, "The Flak If We Had The Joy of Sex Here," Library Journal 107, no. 16 (September 15, 1982): 1711-15.
20 D. J. Foskett, The Creed of a LibrarianNo Politics, No Religion, No Morals (Reference special and information section. Northwestern group. Occasional papers, 3) (London: Library Association, 1962). For a different view, see J. A. Hennessy, "Myths and Alibis: Political Information in Libraries," Assistant Librarian 74, no. 10 (October 1981): 126- 8: "The rhetoric of librarians must be viewed ... with incomprehension if not hostility, a direct result of the refusal or inability of librarians to respond to existing relations of power in society, to accept a political dimension to the ordinary business of handling information.... All information is a fundamental resource and thus a political source; some information is explicitly political within the terms of an allegedly democratic society; other information may become political by virtue of the political values of those who acquire it, use it, control it; librarians claim to have certain skills and objectives in information-handling and thus their work must necessarily assert political values whether explicitly professed or implicitly internalized (p. 128)." See also J. Hennessy, "Guerrilla Librarianship? A Review Article on the Librarianship of Politics and the Politics of Librarianship," Library Journal 13, no. 4 (October 1981): 248-55. For a convenient historical overview see A. R. Rogers, "An Introduction to Philosophies of Librarianship," in A. R. Rogers, The Library in Society (Littleton, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 1984).
22 For a case study of a public library in which the philosophy of the professional librarians was alleged to be at variance with the values of the community, see Levy, Meltsner, and Wildavsky, Urban Outcomes.
23 "... it becomes evident that libraries and educational institutions symbolic of the Western tradition negate in reality all the basic cliches of librarianship: freedom of information or intellectual freedom, the evils of censorship, and the pornographic use of information power, all of which are crucial matters in the ethics and responsibilities of librarianship and education." A. O. Amadi, African Libraries: Western Tradition and Colonial Brainwashing. (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1981), p. 162.
24 See chapter 6, footnote 1.
25 Danton, "Plea for a Philosophy of Librarianship," p. 547. The introduction to the statement on professional ethics adopted by the American Library Association in 1981 seems to include a recognition that the guidelines propounded for librarians to follow derived from a particular political philosophy: "In a political system grounded in an informed citizenry, librarians are members of a profession explicitly committed to intellectual freedom and the freedom of access to information...." (Emphasis added.) American Libraries 12, no. 6 (June 1981): 325.
26 Danton, "Plea for a Philosophy of Librarianship," p. 527.
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