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Archive for the ‘Research Topics’ Category

Book Announcement: Contesting Human Remains

Posted by Pagan Librarian on October 28, 2010

Talk about timely! After articles started springing up about museums removing, hiding or partially covering human remains in their collections such as mummies for fear of offending certain spiritual minority groups (Pagans), this gem emerged.

Contesting Human Remains in Museum Collections
The Crisis of Cultural Authority
By Tiffany Jenkins

ISBN: 978-0-415-87960-6
Publish Date: October 21st 2010
Publisher: Routledge
Pages: 174 pages

Contents include:

Introduction
1.Transforming Concerns about Human Remains into an Issue
2. Scientists Contest Repatriation
3.The Crisis of Cultural Authority
4.The Rise and Impact of Pagan Claims-Makers
5. Explaining Why Human Remains Are the Problem
6. Covering Up the Mummies.
Concluding Thoughts

More information, including a more in-depth description and purchase info, can be found here.

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Posted in Adult, Announcement, News, nonfiction, Reference, Research Topics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Current Assignment: Company Profile of Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.

Posted by Pagan Librarian on October 21, 2010

Currently in my Business & Industry Information Resources course I am working on a 20pg paper of 3 company profiles. The first is a large, publicly traded company (Starbucks), the next is a large, privately held company (Llewellyn’s). The third is to be a local regional business which I have yet to decide on.

Information, especially financial, is difficult to find on any privately held organization, but the largest metaphysical/occult publisher & wholesaler, Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD., seems especially tricky.

I’ve already dug throughout Llewellyn’s site, but if anyone has access to any other information, please let me know! Thanks!

Posted in Journal, Research Topics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

British Library Digitizes Greek Manuscripts.

Posted by Pagan Librarian on September 28, 2010

This is one of those “…and A told B and B told C…” news pass alongs, but it has to do with Libraries and may be of Pagan interest, so I’m posting it here:

The British Library has digitised over a quarter of its Greek manuscripts (284 volumes) for the first time and made them freely available online at www.bl.uk/manuscripts thanks to a generous grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

The original news post and details can be found here.

Posted in Reference, Research Topics, Resources | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Any Pagans on the Stock Exchange?

Posted by Pagan Librarian on September 21, 2010

One of my classes this semester is Business & Industry Information Resources. Just sounds drop dead fascinating, doesn’t it?

Well actually, if you challenge yourself to apply your interests to something, even the oddest combination can make something awesome (think PB & Pickle sandwiches! YUM!)

(Don’t give me that look. I know all y’all have your weird little food combos that you make just for yourself when no one else is around.)

One assignment that’s currently up is following a selection of stocks and mutual funds.  We are to use this week to pick which ones we want to follow.  We have to select 2 stocks that are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and 2 that are traded on the NASDAQ exchange.

Two months ago, my SO decided he would experiment with stocks and has invested in BP, Apple, and something else I can’t remember. It’s been interesting keeping up on their current events in the press and radio and then looking to how (or if) it affects their respective exchanges.  I suppose I could just choose what we’re already experimenting with…

But that would be boring. For me.

So despite what may turn out to be an oxymoron, I’m challenging myself to find out if there are any publicly traded companies that are Pagan owned, of Pagan interest, or Pagan friendly… and naturally, I’m enlisting the help of my readers!

Especially since the only thing I’ve been able to find so far in the last 10 minutes is this:

Posted in Reference, Research Topics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Research Proposal: “The Pagan’s Place in Libraries”

Posted by Pagan Librarian on July 30, 2010

Here is the “finished” research proposal for investigating the information needs and information seeking behaviors of Pagans and the role libraries play in these seeking behaviors.

The term “finished” is in quotations because though the proposal as an assignment is done, the research proposal itself as a very real proposal I continue to develop.

I feel like a complete and utter green horn and welcome any and all constructive feedback & criticisms. I will continue to develop the surveys and questionnaires, and plan on making these surveys available here on the site as an online form.

Research Proposal – The Pagan’s Place in Libraries

Posted in Journal, Research Topics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“The Pagan’s Place in Libraries” Research Outline

Posted by Pagan Librarian on July 1, 2010

Hullo my precious readers! I apologize for my absence and lack of posting. I have been living under a rock. A rock known as Graduate-School-Three-Jobs-a-Spouse-and-a-House. That being said, to needlessly reassure you, allow me to introduce you to a favorite vocabulary word of mine:

ruminate

from Dictionary.com:

ru·mi·nate [roo-muh-neyt]  -nat·ed, -nat·ing.
–verb
1. to chew the cud, as a ruminant.
2. to meditate or muse; ponder.

However I believe my definition to be much more accurate and appropriate:

To think about something so much that you begin to subconsciously believe you’ve already done what you’ve been thinking about.

So you see, I have not forgotten about my blog. Rather, I’ve been thinking about it more than ever… especially as I continue my studies for the Research course at WSU this summer. The big on-going project of the class is developing a research proposal (which I believe I mentioned briefly before) which I have been diligently developing.

Admittedly, lack of posting can also be attributed to being in a quandary about the appropriateness to post my completed school assignments. Maybe it’s the teacher part of me that is so cautious because it feels like I’m posting answers to a test… but I’ve come to the conclusion if I’m just giving you the multiple choice answer sequence a, d, c, c, b, a, e, d, b…. without telling you what answers those selections represent, let alone neglecting to specify which test I’m talking about, well then, maybe we’re fine and I’m over-thinking everything (again).

Besides, seriously, what hand is going to reach out from the internet and slap mine for doing so? Perhaps it is only my imagination.

So today I post for your review, input and feedback my preliminary Outline for Research.

(By the way, I’m totally serious about requesting your input and feedback!)

The Pagan’s Place in Libraries

I. INTRODUCTION

When entering a library for the first time, one of the first things I want to know is what materials they have available for the Pagans in their community. Often I am disappointed that libraries have rarely collected beyond Greek and Roman mythologies, “popular” titles heavy-handed toward spell craft, or worse yet, absolutely nothing. It has made me wonder: Are Pagans receiving quality consideration and service from their community libraries, or are their unique information needs being overlooked, and why?

A.      Questions to Research

1. If public library collections feature only books on spell craft and ritual, what ideas –or worse yet, misconceptions– does this reinforce for the general public?
2. Is it possible to influence or cultivate the public’s awareness, even receptivity of a group or belief system simply by developing comprehensive collections for Pagan Studies consisting of less “pop” and more scholarly or serious materials?
3. Why are these more dynamic collections not presently available?

a. Is it lack of quality material or awareness?
b. Is it an issue of discrimination as some scholars believe, or are Pagans not making their unique information needs known?

i. If the latter is the case, why is this so?

4. What issues of accessibility do libraries face to provide these materials for practitioners and scholars?

II. STATEMENT OF CONTROLLING PURPOSE

A. The purpose of this research is to investigate:

1. the role of the Library in the information seeking habits of Pagans.
2. how Libraries are currently serving the unique information needs of the Pagan community.

B. The secondary purpose of this research will be to develop a system to analyze and evaluate existing collections and services in public libraries.

III. LITERATURE REVIEW

A.      Libraries – Very little has been written about libraries with the perspective of Pagan Studies. In my preliminary research, to date, I have only located two articles related to this topic:

1. “The Quandary of Contemporary Pagan Archives” by Garth Reese from the 2007 volumes of The Pomegranate is directly relevant. It is clear through his writing that his research took place by deducing connections between articles about existing religious archives and writings about the Pagan community.
2. “The superstitions in public libraries: alive and well?” by Miroslaw Kruk, which appeared in the November 2001 issue of The Australian Library Journal offers a unique and opinionated perspective focused on responsible and selective collection development. Specifically in regards to materials of “falsehood” that spread or encourage “superstitious” (anti-scientific) beliefs, the author discusses the ethics of information accessibility and to what degree user requests or demands for material should be considered.

B.      Information Seeking Behavior – Still limited, there is material available that touches on the information seeking behavior of Pagans, though these writings concentrate on utilizing personal and community connections and the trend of substantial use of the internet to locate informational resources.

IV. METHODS

I have determined that this body of research will begin as a broad, exploratory study as this is an area where very little, if any, research has been conducted. Evidence of this comes from a significant lack of literature existing or available on the subject and consulting with authors and scholars in the field. (i)

A.      The Qualitative study method of research will be the method primarily employed, basic (ii)  and qualitative in nature.

B.      Sampling (iii) Two main groups will be sought out in this study: members of the Pagan community and Librarians. It is possible some participants of this study may fall into both categories. If so, this collective will comprise a subgroup; it is hoped these individuals will provide especially interesting insight. Participants for this study will be selected in the following ways:

1.     Snowball Sample – To begin, I will reach out to known individuals in my networks that are either librarians and/or members of the Pagan community. They may, in turn, be able to refer me to others to survey.
2.      Self-Selected Sample – It is expected that a significant number of online participants will be self-selected upon seeing the posted link to the questionnaire in online forums. It is possible that a few offline individuals may hear about the survey by word-of-mouth and may wish to participate.
3.      Purposive Sample – I will also be contacting current existing libraries of Pagan Studies (New Alexandria Library, Circle Library, etc.)

C.      Data Collection – Though continually changing and being developed, data collection will be modeled from the Exploratory Survey method. Several methods of data collection will be used, including:

1.      Questionnaires – The full gamut of questions will be utilized including Factual, Opinion & Attitude, Information, Standards of Action, Behavioral, and Projective. It will include open-ended as well as fixed response questions, checklists and scaled responses. Questionnaires may be administered face-to-face, or electronically being sent via email, or posted as a link that directs participants to a website providing the questionnaire as an online form. The completed online form will send submitted information to a Microsoft Access database.
2.      Interviews – Interviews will take place online and in person. Online forums include WitchVox, MysticWicks, and known Pagan communities on Second Life. Additional online settings may include Facebook, MySpace, CovenSpace, PaganSpace, etc. Correspondence may also take place via email, Skype, or phone conversations. Personal interviews will also be conducted face-to-face with Pagans in the Kalamazoo area.
3.      Observation – Experiences with library staff will also be noted when asking about materials “as a library user” rather than researcher to document any perceivable staff attitudes toward said materials.

—————————————————————————————

[i] In the first week of June, I approached Chas Clifton, editor of The Pomegranate: International Journal of Pagan Studies, asking if my research proposal was an area needing research. He invited me to the PaganStudies listserv on Yahoo! Groups where a significant number of published authors and scholars are members. After posting the same draft I submitted on BlackBoard, I received responses from not only Mr. Clifton, but Dr. Dawn Work-MaKinne  (Librarian, Des Moines Public Library), Dr. Léon van Gulik (Lecturer, Lecturer in Psychology at Radboud University in the Netherlands), and Garth Reese (author and Head of Special Collections at the University of Idaho), confirming that this is an area where there is an interest and need for research.
[ii] “Basic research tends to be theoretical in nature and concerns itself primarily with theory construction, hypothesis testing, and producing new, generalizable knowledge.” Powell, Ronald (2004). Chapter 3: Selecting the Research Method. Basic Research Methods For Librarians. 4th edition. pp. 53.
[iii]  “No single formula provides the ‘correct’ sample size for a qualitative study. The depth, complexity, and ‘richness’ of the data are critical, but identifying a representative sample is not even a consideration since the purpose of the research is to understand, not to generalize.” Powell, Ronald (2004). Chapter 7: Qualitative Research Methods. Basic Research Methods For Librarians. 4th edition. pp. 189.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Exploring Pagans & Libraries in Second Life

Posted by Pagan Librarian on May 31, 2010

You can now find your Pagan Librarian as Foxtayle Vordun on SL! (They had no more "Jessica" names available so I got creative!)

This past Friday, I finally signed up for Second Life.

I say “finally” because you would think I would’ve jumped on this gaming bandwagon when it erupted, what with my drooling admiration for libraries utilizing technology and my own history with Final Fantasy XV and World of Warcraft. (It was when my career as an MLIS student at WSU that I was forced to abandon my level 42 female human Rogue). That darned “Sense of Responsibility” had struck again!

So, piece #1:
I remember hearing all the hullabaloo and awesome noise that was being made way back when in 2006/2007 for libraries coming up with innovative ways to use Second Life as an avenue for outreach to the tech-savvy and gaming generations, creating programs and online reference “Ask a Librarian” services.

But it’s been a while now, and I’m curious to see what the momentum is like

Entrance to Stanford University's SL Library

for libraries in Second Life; if energy is still being invested. On Saturday morning, my first stop in SL was a search for libraries, and the first one I explored was Stanford University’s Libraries. I didn’t see anyone about, but going into their building, there were large boards that displayed photos of each of the different campus libraries of Stanford, and each one of these was a link to that libraries website.

For piece #2:
In my research class, I have to pick a topic for research. Two points of personal criteria arise for me:

  • Criteria #1: I don’t want to pick something that “everyone else” is doing. There are a lot of fantastic “hot topics” and buzzes and trends going on, and I’m not saying that they’re not important, because they are… I just like the challenge of finding something that not many people would think of.
  • Criteria #2: I want to study something that is of personal interest to me, which will help me keep momentum throughout the project.

So naturally, the Pagan Librarian wants to research the role of libraries in the Pagan Community. Or something like that. I’ve submitted my query to my professor to see if this is a topic I can pursue for the project.

Quite honestly, I’m not quite sure how I’m going to go about it, and I have no hypothesis, so this will be a qualitative research project.

What does SL have to do with all of this?

The thought occurred to me that perhaps I could use SL as a way to collect information, to survey and interview online Pagan communities about their attitudes about libraries. Granted, this is a pretty specific demographic; I still aim to interview Pagans in RL (real life) about libraries, too.

I popped onto SL today for just an hour (that’s about all I had to spare), did a search for Pagan communities and teleported to one that appeared near the top of my query results. I walked around until I found some people dancing in the pub and having a good time. Rather than being ignored, I was warmly welcomed. I only got to see so much of the area tonight, but they did mention a having a library, so naturally that’s where I asked to be shown.

Standing inside the SL Pagan Library on Witches Island Community, (78, 152, 706)

It was really quite cool and as a total newbie I am in awe of how everything is “built.”  My guide showed me how to retrieve items from the library. They have it organized by topic per bookcase (Runes, Golden Dawn, Magick, Ancient Astronauts, Pagan Poetry, Celtic Mythology). When you touch a bookcase, a list of “notecards” (materials) therein is listed, and you can select which ones to put into your inventory to read. My guide explained that the materials were all notes based on classes they’ve had, and that there was a specific person in charge of deciding what went into the library.

The whole thing seems like a 3D version of forums and discussion boards. But prettier to look at. 🙂

The fact that the first community I happened to visit had a space organized and dedicated specifically as a library tells me that the concept of libraries may be very relevant and of importance to the Pagan community. Needless to say, I am very excited to start exploring this….

Posted in Journal, Pagan Library, Research Topics, Second Life, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Developing a Pagan Bibliographic Classification System

Posted by Pagan Librarian on May 13, 2010

Photo courtesy of Homeshoppingspy

Something has been switched on and there are lots of sparks flying between the synapses of my brain. I can’t stop thinking about classification system.

Gawds, I’m a nerd.

After talking with Gaelan the other day and hearing that the Assembly’s librarians were also discussing classification systems, I revisited my own (incomplete) compiled list of relevant subject headings within the Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC). [Incomplete because I really only made it up to the 640’s in exploring details, and I didn’t include 000-099 as I should have upon retrospection]

A lot of things are rattling within my brain, so I’ll just spew them out here. In regards to developing a classification system unique to studies in Paganism/Witchcraft:

Need to

  • Expand my familiarity/knowledge/understanding of classification systems currently in existence
  • Go through existing Subject Heading listings and Thesauri
  • Locate or develop a Thesaurus specific to Paganism/Witchcraft (anybody know if there’s anything presently out there?)

Possible Process

  • Could begin with an existing system (e.g. the DDC), maintain the overall structure but rearrange headings within the structure
  • Flesh out gaps left from removing irrelevant headings with new or rearranged subject headings
  • Vocabulary used may change to more accurately reflect materials.

Challenges/Concerns/Questions:

  • What is the process of developing/testing a classification system,  and getting it approved/recognized?
  • If modeled after/inspired from the existing DDC, how to cite?
  • Will having a unique classification system identify gaps in information?
  • If it does, will identifying those gaps drive new research/publication?
  • Will a unique classification system impact trends in
    • information needs
    • research
    • publishing
    • future revisions of existing classification systems
  • Will developing a system of organization (even if only bibliographic) help to solidify or advance the establishment of Paganism?
  • A unique classification system may work well for a non-lending collection, but what about future interests in lending and inter-library loan programs? Would a unique system cause a problem? Would we still need to identify our items anyway through LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings) or DDC?
  • Will changing the vocabulary (how words are used and associated with each other) have any impact on how Paganism is perceived or approached?

Benefits

A unique classification system could help to identify gaps in information presently available and as a result may drive new research. It may also encourage authors to create more specific and involved bodies of work instead of “catch all” titles. (By “catch all,” I mean books that cover a wide and therefore shallow range of topics [e.g. spellcraft, recipes, bits of history, association tables, etc] that may be easy to plunk in a section at a public library, but may pose a challenge to a more specific system.)

Posted in classification, Journal, Pagan Library, Research Topics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Can Dewey Do It? Classifying books of pagan interest

Posted by Pagan Librarian on October 15, 2009

Courtesy of the State Library of Iowa

Courtesy of the State Library of Iowa

As a newbie librarian, I’ve come across several classification systems… For example, the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system (000-900’s) that everyone has come in contact with and is used just about everywhere; and the Library of Congress Classification (LCC), which is a more expansive system than DDC used in many academic, research, or professional libraries.

But then there are bodies of knowledge that require greater care in their organization, such as the science of medicine. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) system was established to handle this great sum of specifically nuanced information in a way that was relevant and efficient for doctors and scientists.

While the NLM can be used by anyone, it is used to handle a specific body of information for a specific audience.

So while I’ve been enjoying my time exploring my free, limited-day trial of OCLC’s Online Web Dewey service, there’s been a question sitting in the back of my mind: if one were to establish a special interest collection, perhaps even a stand-alone library specifically to address pagan needs and interests, how would the books be organized, and what would the classification system look like? Would an existing classification system suffice, or is it a body of information that, like the science of medicine, could benefit from developing it’s own unique system?

Like any system, the DDC has received it’s share of criticms. But one that stood at the forefront of my mind was that the DDC was created with a Christian background. Would this background be a significant obstacle, or is it just a red herring?

With a pagan perspective, (“Is there something that could be found here of pagan interest?”) I very systematically began exploring the intricate subject breakdowns of the DDC, at times even getting 4-7 places to the right of the decimal point. I made note of my observations of specific words used (because the choice of a word is not taken very lightly in classification) and the placement of topics within the system.

I’m not saying that this isn’t something that can be further delved into; it can! But my initial thoughts after spending about a week digging… while a unique system may be more relevant for research-based collections, the majority of the Dewey Decimal Classification would suffice to organize a general collection of materials in a pagan centered library.

But wait! I don’t mean that you’d walk into this hypothetical pagan library and everything would be organized within 100-299… No, what I mean to say is that while currently mainstream public libraries do put most of their specifically pagan interest books in this area, in a pagan-centered library, these books would be given great enough attention that they could be spread nearly anywhere within the DDC.

It’s possible in this wide-world that there are public libraries out there that don’t act on a knee-jerk reaction of seeing the word “pagan” or “witchcraft” as the publisher’s overly simple subject heading and automatically slap it in the stacks between 100-299, but I haven’t personally seen many instances of this. For example, Kristen Madden’s book, “Festival Feasts” has “pagan” written on it, and often, –if I do find it– it’s put with all the other “pagan” books about spiritual/religious practices (100-299’s)… instead of cooking — even though the entire book is dedicated to recipe’s and menus! Why not put it in cooking (600’s)? Specifically, seasonal or holiday cooking (641.56)?

While it would be awesome for librarians or catalogers of mainstream public libraries to take a little more time investigating the actual purpose of a book beyond the special interest label, I’m not going to harp on them for what they presently do. Knee-jerk system though it may be, it works. Why? Because the collection of a public library as a whole is meant to serve the whole community. For the special interest groups within their community, it is likely they are doing their best to provide a service of convenience by trying to lump all the “special interest” books near together instead of all over the place.

BUT: if there ever comes to be a pagan-centered library, a special interest library, it’s very possible that the full range of the DDC could be utilized to better organize materials within the collection.

(Though I’m still interested in exploring what a unique, pagan-based classification system might look like…)

THOUGHTS???

Posted in classification, Journal, Research Topics | 6 Comments »

Cornell University’s Witchcraft Collection

Posted by Pagan Librarian on October 13, 2009

Cornell University

Stumbled upon this today, and about to go and poke around… Go and check it out for yourself! The site offers a basic, boolean, proximity, and bibliographic searches; browsing, and contact information. Their Help page offers information on how to navigate and use the database.

The Cornell University Library Witchcraft Collection is an online selection of titles from the Cornell University Library’s extensive collection of materials on Witchcraft. The Witchcraft Collection is a rich source for students and scholars of the history of superstition and witchcraft persecution in Europe. It documents the earliest and the latest manifestations of the belief in witchcraft as well as its geographical boundaries, and elaborates this history with works on canon law, the Inquisition, torture, demonology, trial testimony, and narratives. Most importantly, the collection focuses on witchcraft not as folklore or anthropology, but as theology and as religious heresy.

These titles were originally digitally scanned from microfilm by Primary Source Microfilm and the images were returned to Cornell University. For more information, please visit the About page.

Current Online Holdings

  • 104 monographs
  • 23,220 pages
  • Posted in Reference, Research Topics, Resources, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

     
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