Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Looking at the Socialization of LIS Students through a Pop Culture Lens

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Looking at the Socialization of LIS Students through a Pop Culture Lens

Article excerpt

Abstract

The LIS field is filled with pop culture images, seen and learned by our students. Learning about these images relevant to our students is indeed a task worthy of our time. We are preparing student to enter a profession with their own identity as a professional; pop culture may provide a useful tool in equipping them to do this successfully. We surveyed library students across the country to discover the LIS images they knew before starting their LIS studies and those they know now. Then we looked at sources, to discover what images they are drawing from their student life, and specific lessons they learned. Instead of turning our backs on this imagery form popular culture, we can focus more deliberately on shaping it to meet the needs of the profession and the students, to help this process of entry to the profession.

Introduction

Popular culture is everywhere around us, evolving and changing as it both leads and reflects important cultural images and values. We are inundated with images on every potential topic, including bratty misbehavior of both Jersey Shore kids and Beverly Hills housewives, the need to argue about tiny issues in big dramatic ways in a kitchen, a design studio, a house, a rehab center, or a desert island. We also see images of the happiness and sense of belonging we can have if we use Apple products, drink Starbucks coffee, or eat Dunkin Doughnuts - fitting the image they project.

Being fluent in pop culture means we are able to participate in a wider range of riffs and parodies of the very cultural images we see. The in-jokes and references we knowingly laugh at while watching The Simpsons make us feel like we understand the behind-the-scenes or secret information as we recognize references to hundreds of movies, TV shows, and other popular images. The fun of watching the US Olympic Swim team lip-synching video of "Call Me Maybe" on YouTube is only surpassed by the humor of then watching dozens of others groups doing the same thing and sharing the same experience, including the Harvard Basketball team, the Australian cycling team Orica-GreenEDGE, the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders, US Army Infantry Soldiers in Afghanistan, and even a painstakingly word-by-word dubbed together version of President Obama "singing" along. Chronological age is transcended in popular culture appreciation while watching Sesame Street where we can learn to count, hone our skill at color recognition, and pick up some important words in Spanish - all from pop culture Muppet stars like Ernie, Big Bird, and Grover, along with pop culture human stars like Katy Perry, David Beckham, Alton Brown, Sally Ride, Jim Parsons, Peggy Fleming, B. B. King, and hundreds more.

Dismissing popular culture as irrelevant misses the point entirely; by its nature it is prevalent in the lives of people, including our students and all members of the LIS profession. The LIS field is ffilled with pop culture images, seen and learned by our students. Learning about these mages relevant to our students is indeed a task worthy of our time. We are preparing student to enter a profession with their own identity as a professional; pop culture may provide a useful tool in equipping them to do this successfully.

In this study, we wanted to learn about the LIS images our students know. We surveyed library students across the country to discover the LIS images they knew before starting their LIS studies and those they know now. Then we look at sources, to discover what images they are drawing from their student life. As educators, we can take this information and use it to help students build their own vision of themselves as professionals. Instead of turning our backs on this imagery form popular culture, we can focus more deliberately on shaping it to meet the needs of the profession and the students, to help this process of entry to the profession.

Literature Review

An increasing number of students, particularly younger students, are very familiar with a variety of pop culture images learned from a variety of different media formats, particularly digital. …

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