Competency O: Identify ways in which information professionals can contribute to the cultural, economic, educational, and social well-being of our global communities.
Meaning and Importance
Globalization has a lot of scary connotations behind it, mostly due to the negative repercussions of corporations’ expansions into foreign markets, the tourism industry displacing native peoples and damaging native lands, and cultural appropriation. However, as with everything, there are positive aspects behind globalization as well. Now more than ever, it’s important to be consciousness of the global community and its needs, and librarians are in a good position to enact positive changes worldwide.
The internet in particular has made it easier than ever to be connected with people worldwide. For information professionals, this is a great opportunity to network and “meet” librarians from other countries, not only to see what projects they’re working on and programs they’re excited for, but to understand more closely the differences between nationalities and the libraries they keep.
Furthermore, library patrons are often global themselves. Whether they’re expats downloading ebooks from their libraries at their former home, or travelers needing audiobooks for their plane trip, patrons often have a deeply developed global sensibility. That said, it’s still important to cater to the library’s localized community, but there’s an opportunity to bring in global perspectives as well.
Librarians can do this by something as simple as a “world authors” display in their library, or by going to an international convention, or by connecting to other librarians online and participating in conversations. We can support the global community by making sure our resources are accessible to as many people as possible, by reaching out to the global community through programs or conference panels, or by hosting international educational speakers at programs. However we do it, the important thing is to always keep in mind that we are all global citizens, and we deserve access to information and resources regardless of where we come from.
In Fall 2017, I took INFO 281 GLOBALIZATION AND INFORMATION, which had a culminating research paper on a topic of our choice as it related to globalization and information technology. I chose to research and write about Twitter and its specifics relating to the global community. This involved researching professional and academic papers and writing a literature review, which led into a critical analysis and discussion of the topic. I also considered Twitter’s significance to social media, social media’s impact on the global community, and Twitter’s contribution to both. And finally, I considered some problems with relying on Twitter for the sole source of global communication and/or activism.
It was actually pretty difficult to research Twitter and globalization. I spent most of my time perusing SJSU’s databases, Google Scholar’s subject tags, and the footnotes in globalization textbooks and research papers. I then synthesized what I learned from them with my own personal knowledge about Twitter as a user myself. While some research has been done, and while some papers touched on the impact of social media on global movements (such as social justice movements, demonstrations, etc.) nobody really considered the impact that Twitter’s specific functions may have on those social movements. For instance, Twitter’s timeline defaults to showing “top tweets” first, which it curates based on the user’s interests and tweet history. This shows a skewed version of Twitter, which may mean that certain voices and viewpoints are being forgotten or left out because they don’t match up with an algorithm.
At the time I wrote my paper, the newest research dated from April 2014. Then, most of the coverage was about Twitter’s impact on social activism and uprisings around the world. In the three or four years since, twitter has gone through a lot of changes, as have the global community that uses it. Social media as a whole is ever changing, and there is a real need to keep up with its impact on our world. In particular, we need more coverage about librarians and social media, as what I found during my research was unfortunately light on data. My paper analyzing the literature available and identifying what was missing is just the tip of the iceberg, but I learned a lot doing it and look forward to seeing what develops over the next few years re: professional research literature and social media.
Librarians have a real opportunity to become more engaged with the global community. In my career as an information professional, I will strive to always keep in mind the global citizen, and I will make an effort to include education and conversations about the global community in my displays, programs, and educational talks. I will also try to join as many international committees as I can, to provide support and hopefully learn something new about the library profession and the people it serves.