College & Research Libraries News

Letter to ACRL EBSS Members

Dear colleague in the Education and Behavioral Sciences Section:

An appropriate celebration of the bicentennial year, it seems to me, would be to form “committees of correspondence” to begin the process of liberating ourselves, as education and/or behavioral science librarians, from our professional problems by, at least, trying to articulate what some of our problems/opportunities are.

In other words, I hereby invite as many of you as possible to become my “pen pals” for 1976. I want to receive a simple, spontaneous letter from you, soon, setting forth some of your concerns about our specialized field of librarianship. I have been disturbed, over the years, that there is so little participation of the membership at large in section activity. Now that I am myself the chairperson for a year, I feel a responsibility to see if we can change that. How does one go about productively involving as many as possible in an ALA group?

At the risk of suggesting too definitely what you might think about, here are some areas of concern that occur to me:

1. Information on education/psychology libraries and librarianship: What statistical and other factual information exists, or should exist, on North American education / psychology / psychiatry libraries? What about state-of-the-art papers? Practitioner’s handbooks?

2. Materials selection: What distinctive problems do we, as education and behavioral science specialists, have in the selection process? How adequate is our review literature? What about written selection policies for our fields?

3. Classification systems: How do we as education and/or psychology specialists see LC, Dewey and other classification systems?

4. Subject heading systems: Similarly, how do we, as specialists working with library users, see the LC, ERIC, Ed Index and other subject heading/descriptor systems?

5. Bibliographical and other reference works: What gaps exist in the bibliographical control of our field?

6. User studies: What studies have been, or should be, made of how psychologists and/or educators communicate, including their patterns of use of recorded information in their fields?

7. Bibliographical instruction: Isn’t there a special responsibility to educate the educators, and future educators, in the use of education materials? What about liaison with teacher education organizations?

8. Standards for education libraries: Should standards or guidelines for our specialization be formulated and promulgated, perhaps at the initiative of our section?

9. Curriculum materials: Isn’t this one of the most difficult, yet least studied, areas in all of academic librarianship? What can we do to change this? The time is ripe.

10. Behavioral sciences: What do you mean, “behavioral sciences,” anyway? Psychology and what other fields? What are the distinctive problems of this field of library specialization?

As you can see, I have concentrated on education/psychology librarianship in higher education and research institutions. I have assumed that our section is not in business to deal with school librarianship since AASL serves that purpose. Nor is our section primarily concerned with education for librarianship since LED exists for that. Learning resource center librarianship in two-year colleges is somewhat closer to the emphasis of our section; however, the Community and Junior College Section of ACRL and the Audiovisual Section of ISAD adequately cover this interest. I must hasten to add, however, that, although I particularly want to hear from librarians specializing in education/curriculum materials or psychology/ psychiatry in higher education or research institutions, I will be pleased to get responses from other librarians as well. Two groups able to make especially valuable contributions to the discussion are ex-education/psychology librarians now in other career lines, and social science librarians who include education or psychology among their areas of responsibility.

What do I intend to do with the letters once you have written to me? First, I expect to learn something as chairperson about the concerns of my colleagues. Also, I hope in this way to learn of those members of the section who would like to be more actively involved. Perhaps, depending on the kinds and number of responses, letters could be xeroxed and distributed to all correspondents or to circles of people with interests in common, or round robins might be formed.

Finally, your letters will provide topics of grass roots interest for the Annual Conference in Chicago. On Sunday afternoon we are planning to try out discussion circles of members interested in education and behavioral science librarianship. Maybe we should call them “juntos” in memory of one of the founding fathers of American libraries, Benjamin Franklin, and to introduce a bicentennial note. We are likely to ask some of you to co-lead small discussion groups on areas of interest to you, or act as recorders and reporters.

Like most of you nowadays, I am overburdened with work both in my job and in other professional commitments. Nevertheless, I hope you will make the burden even more overwhelming by responding to this, an effort to make a tour of duty as chairperson of your section interactive.

Wayne Gossage, Library Director Bank Street College of Education 610 W. 112 St. New York, NY 10025

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