Helping Students Understand Transition from Folk Culture to Mass Culture to Convergence Culture

Eureka! This summer, I had been hoping to find a short, authoritative passage that my first-year students this fall can read that will help them understand the transition in the United States from the folk culture that predominated up until the end of the 19th century to the mass media culture where copyright became increasingly focused on the needs of corporations in the 20th century and then finally to the current convergence culture where users are with greater frequency and skill appropriating the stories, songs, images, etc. created by corporations and working with it in a way that paralleled the world of folk culture.

Henry Jenkins’ 2006 book, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, has a nice four-and-a-half page section (p. 139-143) that provides just the kind of thumbnail sketch I’ve been looking for. Here’s a choice quote from this section of the book:

The older American folk culture was built on borrowings from mother countries; the modern mass media builds upon borrowings from folk culture; the new convergence culture will be built on borrowings from various media conglomerates. (p. 141).

Messy Paperback Conversion for Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture

<rant>As someone who used to work in book publishing and who has a wife who still does, I’m pretty sympathetic to the challenges of getting a book into print without typos. That being said, I’m pretty let down by the job NYU Press did in converting the hardcover edition of Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture into paperback. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading the 3rd printing of the paperback and have been annoyed by the haphazard way the text was reflowed from the layout in the hardcover edition to the layout for the paperback. At least a dozen times in the past 100 pages, I’ve seen hyphenated words that were probably at the end of the line in the hardcover now in the middle of a line. Today, I read a block quote (on page 119) that seemed to be missing at least the final line.</rant>

<praise>Despite the annoyances of the physical text, I am enjoying the book and am finding much that I might be able to use in my credit course this fall.</praise>

CFP for Urban Library Journal

Sharing this announcement which came out on a mailing list for CUNY librarians:


Call for Proposals

Urban Library Journal

The editors of Urban Library Journal (ULJ) announce a call for proposals for the Winter 2011 issue.

Urban Library Journal, an open access, refereed journal of research and discussion dealing with all aspects of urban libraries and librarianship, welcomes articles dealing with academic, research, public, school, and special libraries in an urban setting. 

Manuscript length should fall between 2,500 and 5,000 words. Full author guidelines can be found on the ULJ website: Proposals are due by September 20, 2010. Full manuscripts are due by December 15, 2010. For more information about ULJ and to see the latest issue:

Proposals should be one page or less and include an overview of the topic as well as its relevance to urban libraries. 

Please email queries and proposals to the journal co-editors:

Lisa Finder

Hunter College Libraries

lfinder [at] 


Lauren Yannotta

Hunter College Libraries

lyannott [at]


Teaching Students How to Read for Class

Last spring, when I taught LIB 1015 Information Research for Social Sciences and Humanities, I realized that many of my students weren’t exactly knocking themselves out trying to do the reading I had assigned. When they did do the reading, it seemed as though they hadn’t read it very closely. This fall, I’ll be teaching the course again with a class made up entirely of first-year students. I am thinking about spending some time giving my students ideas about how to read an article in a way that helps them recognize the main points of the article and helps them process and retain what they’ve read.

At the moment, this not-even-half-baked idea looks like this:

  1. Give them a paper copy of an article to read
  2. Require them to come to the next class with the following: an outline they’ve made of the article (paragraph by paragraph), a list of all new words and phrases in they found in the article, a list of all persons named in the article (such as a researcher who is referenced).
  3. Launch into a class discussion of the article and hope that the conversation is deeper than it might have been without this effort.
  4. The next time there is a reading, just require an outline from them.

I’m not sure if I’ll require an outline for all assigned readings or not. Although I want my class to be able to respond intelligently and thoughtfully to discussions of readings, my class is not intended to be a seminar. Instead, I like to run my class more like a laboratory where students engage in hands-on activities to learn about how to do research; the readings are meant more to provide some foundation to the activities we do.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that this experiment will be worth the trouble.

Explaining to Freshman What Research Looks Like

As I gear up to teach a 3-credit course again (LIB 1015 Information Research for the Social Sciences and Humanities), I’m hoping to deepen my students’ sense of what research is. I’m wondering if there is a way I can use this clever graphic by Matt Might about what a Ph.D. is to help illustrate that in most cases research expands our knowledge in a very narrow way and minimal.