From the Dean. . .
David Lankes has joined us as director of our School of Library and Information Science
and associate dean in the College of Information and Communications.
I asked David to share his thoughts in this space this month while I take a few days
off. I’ll also be at the AEJMC conference for journalism educators this week in Minneapolis
and look forward to seeing alumni there.
We’ve also included a note from Kim Jeffcoat, executive director of the South Carolina
Center for Children’s Books and Literacy, thanking those who supported the Cocky’s
Reading Express ™ crowdfunding campaign.
Being Truthful, Not Neutral
In a recent interview Christiane Amanpour of CNN challenged one of the underlying
principles of both journalism and librarianship by calling upon journalists to be
“truthful, not neutral.” She talked about how attempting to appear neutral can lead
to the creation of false equivalencies, and it is better to be truthful, even if that
appears to be taking sides. This idea of intellectual honesty is at the very core
of scholarship as well. Scientists seek to apply objective methods in fields they
are passionate about. It is not unusual to hear a chemist, a botanist or, indeed,
an information scientist recall a story from their childhood that led them to academia
These ideas are very much in the forefront of my thinking upon joining the University
of South Carolina. The fact that the university is ranked as a top research institution
and noted for community engagement was a major reason I chose to join the faculty.
Good scholarship is instrumental in an ongoing effort to improve our communities and
society as a whole. When a school, college or, indeed, a university is at its best,
it provides an open and diverse platform for exploration. It is a place for undergraduates
to learn and question everything. It is a place for professors to explore the reaches
of the heavens and the extent of our humanity. It is a place where society can bring
its thorniest problems for reflection and examination. A good university, like a good
library, is a safe place to explore dangerous ideas.
This is certainly true of the College of Information and Communications. In our labs
and classrooms, scholars, practitioners, staff and students all are continually learning
to navigate the delicate route between a search for truth and a clarion call for action.
A good librarian, a good journalist, a good information scientist are never neutral:
they are principled. We prepare ourselves, our students and our communities not into
an ideology, but a constant quest to do both well, and good. We prepare people for
the job market, but also as citizens in a marketplace of ideas. We arm them not with
ideology, but with perspective and healthy skepticism. And it is here that I must
ask for your help.
I am convinced that the best learning happens in the richest information environment.
Diversity is the key to both validity and social responsibility. As the new director
of the School of Library and Information Science I need your help in building a diverse
learning space. In the classroom and labs and the halls of Davis College the faculty
and I seek to facilitate a rich tapestry of ideas and viewpoints. We need the experiences
of alumni and practitioners. The faculty, staff, and students of the school need you
to share your passion and your truths. A school, a college, a university, indeed every
organization is a conversation. It is a series of voices seeking action and outcome,
be it profit, or literacy, or valid study. In the fields of library and information
science it is a conversation that started millennia ago with the first libraries in
Mesopotamia and that continues today in the work of Google and the Library of Congress
Be a part of that conversation. In the coming months keep an eye on the school website.
We will be posting opportunities for speakers and projects. We plan on hosting get-togethers
for alumni and partners across the state and the country. But you don’t have to wait
to be asked. Find us in Davis College, or on the web, or social media.
Thank you for supporting Cocky’s Reading Express
USC’s first ever crowdfunding campaign was a huge success—Cocky’s Reading Express
™ raised $25,290 in 45 days!
Thank you for donating, sharing our cause with your friends and families and believing
in our mission. Your support will help us reach more children and their families in
South Carolina over the coming year. We promise to use the magic of our beloved mascot,
the energy of our bright college student volunteers and the power of a great book
to inspire the next generation.
As always, keep up with where we are making a difference on our website or social media @cockyreads.