Photos by Jeff Anderson
Privacy, the Dominican presence in the Bronx, a pioneering librarian, the files of a dictator, and book blogs were the subjects of LACUNY’s third annual Grace-Ellen McCrann Memorial Lecture at the Graduate Center on October 19, as CUNY librarians described their current research projects.
“Privacy the New Panopticon” was the topic presented by Tony Doyle (Hunter). Inspired by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s concept of the panopticon, Tony examined the ethics of privacy in the context of technology. We leave information trails whenever we use such technologies as telephones revealing our political leanings and much more. Tony says that we should be concerned about what information is being collected, who is doing the collecting, and who are they sharing it with. Such information can be used to make predictions about people’s behavior.
Bill Casari (Hostos) presented an illustrated lecture: “Street Life: A Photographic Essay Connecting Avenida Mella in the Dominican Republic with the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.” Bill’s project is the result of a PSC-CUNY grant, requiring him to select eighteen of his photographs to be displayed at Hostos. Bill explained how photographs make his comparison between the two communities much better than text. The influence of the Dominican Republic on the Bronx came across strongly in this presentation because it was often difficult to determine which neighborhood was which.
“Edith Guerrier: Librarian, Social Reformer, Entrepreneur, New Woman” was presented by Meg Bausman (Hunter). Guerrier (1870-1958) worked at the Boston Public Library for sixty years. She and her partner, Edith Brown, started the Paul Revere Pottery Workshop to provide young women with an opportunity to learn a useful trade. This endeavor, which grew out of a women’s reading group, they helped immigrants learn how America worked.
When Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was removed from power in 1989, he left behind tons of documents, the focus of “The Odyssey of the Noriega Files” by Douglas Cox (CUNY Law). The U.S. government seized fifteen-thousand boxes of documents but was unable to decide what to do with them. Douglas described how when nine-thousand of these boxes were discovered in a government storage facility in Albany, Georgia, a $64,000 storage bill was sent to the U.S. Army. These files, according to Douglas, are indicative of the issues involving the legal status of records captured during a war.
Nancy Foasberg (Queens) presented “Book Blogs, Reading Communities, and the High Summer Read-a-Thon.” Nancy talked about the rise of book-based social networks such as Goodreads and LibraryThing, as well as book clubs on Twitter. She explained that sharing reading interests is a means of creating an electronic sense of community.