INFO281 Post #4: Possible Research Topics

It’s that time where I reflect back on what I’ve learned to the specific points where my interest was most piqued.  Here are the results of my searching:

  1. Cultural flow as a Western prop and detrimental to periphery nation-states.  I’m interested in discussing Andre Gunder Frank’s 1969 Dependency Theory &/OR World System Theory, especially as concerns missionary work.  A friend told me to look up a speech my Monsignor Ivan Illich, “To Hell with Good Intentions” (1968) in which the priest explains that missions have a deleterious effect on culture.  This connects to information flow–inasmuch as the North views its possession of “a better way” to do any number of things, there is always a risk of exploiting Southern or peripheral peoples.
  2. Future flows affected by virtual reality.  We haven’t really gone into this piece of information flow other than a brief bit on global flows and technology; however, I can imagine that virtual reality and its proliferation and improvement will have an interesting effect on various pieces of global flows.  What are the sociological ramifications of increased use of virtual reality in, for example, the school setting?  Will we see less movement of people (tourism)?  What effect will this have on language and culture?
  3. In a similar vein, I’d be interested in learning more about Manuel Castells’ (1996, 2009) The Rise of the Network Society and his (.  This in conjunction with Mazuko Itō and fellow MIT researchers (2010) book, Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out: Kids living and learning with new media.  Again, I’m interested in the sociological ramifications.  A networked society means multidimensional, multidirectional communication (Castell 2009), but how does this affect kids?  Are networked kids shallow adults?  Are networked kids better global citizens?


Castells, M. (2009). The rise of the network society, 2nd edition.  Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Illich, I. (1968, April 20). To hell with good intentions. [Speech]. Conference on InterAmerican Student Projects (CIASP) in CuernavacaMexico.  Retrieved from

Itō, M, et al. (2010). Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out: Kids living and learning with new media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Hey everybody, let’s host a Human Library!

HumanBookIn reading the June 2017 issue of American Libraries, I came across the article titled, “If these books could talk” by Liz Granger.  In it, Granger talks about a recent trend called the Human Library.  A Human Library is one that checks out humans that are “read” by the patron in a 20-minute conversation.  There is also the option of checking out a human for a group, which may help those who are timid about asking questions.  For example, if I attended an event, I might check out a “book” titled Drug addict or another called Illegal Immigrant.  I would have a conversation with the human book.  What might we talk about? I’m sure I would have my own questions, but hopefully, the organizer has coached the human book and run through practice questions as one organizer, Megan Gilpin of Penn State University recommends (p. 23).  

Ronni Abergel, cohost of the first human library event in Copenhagen in 2000, trademarked human library in 2010 with the goal of helping people “confront prejudice and stereotypes” (p.20). (FYI, If a library or organization wants to host a human library event, they must apply for permission from The Human Library Organization, and if they are approved, they are given training materials that facilitate setting one up.)

So my thought is this: AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner (2007) mark the importance of supporting global citizenship. AASL 3.3.1 states, “Solicit and respect diverse perspectives while searching for information, collaborating with others, and participating as a member of the community,”and standard 3.3.2 states, “Respect the differing interests and experiences of others, and seek a variety of viewpoints.” As facilitators and coaches, we teacher librarians can host these kinds of events!  Think of the impact in just one day!  Speaking from my own experience, we teachers and school administrators have a heightened sense of awareness about the threat of prejudice in light of recent 2016 events.  One school in my district had to handle anti-semitic threats this past year which resulted in examining practices through work with the Anti-Defamation League. Our efforts to level the playing field and combat prejudice can be augmented by programs like the Human Library.

What if the Human Library could be an event conducted online?  ISTE Standards for Students (2016) state that students “use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.”  I can imagine a classroom where students interview a human book in the same way that they interview entrepreneurs and industry experts with Google Hangouts for business classes or career days.  Moreover, an online environment for the Human Library would encourage the global transaction–remote information made local.  In this case, the transaction is not only information, it hopefully represents socio-emotional growth.

According to another organizer, Abby Kasowitz-Scheer from Syracuse University Libraries, people who attend Human Library events are “inspired by the strength of survivors and by people’s ability to go on after difficult life experiences.” (qtd. in Granger, p. 23).  If a big part of our mission is to help students to empathize with others, the Human Library sounds like a great way to accomplish this, giving way more bang for the buck.    


American Association of School Librarians. (2007) Standards for the 21st-century learner. American Library Association.  Retrieved from

Granger, L. (2017, June). If these books could talk. American Libraries, 48(6), pages 20-21, 23.  Retrieved online from 

ISTE Standards for Students. (2016).  International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved from