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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Yong Jun's Project Proposal: the Madison Central Library Redevelopment Project based on the Wisconsin Idea

I’d like to choose this class project for Madison Central library redevelopment project and to approach to this project in terms of strategic communication. I am going to make a little big claim for the library’s vision with the concept of the Wisconsin Idea as I have emphasized it for the previous assignment.

Historically, the state of Wisconsin has cherished a good public value: the Wisconsin Idea. The public library might be able to use this concept to redevelop the library or the library system because public library is supposed to serve public interest with public education. In particular, the Idea emphasizes expertise for serving the public interests. If the public library is able to contribute to building a variety of expertise for community development and public interest, the library becomes to realize the great value of the Wisconsin Idea in the ways of public education. So, it would be a good fit to employ the Idea for the redevelopment project of the Madison central public library.

I think that it is always important to uncover a great idea or a concept to begin a substantial project along with empirical evidence to support the idea. For the first step, I think that project-involved persons need to define the main theme of the project and then to verify the theme with public opinion. If the theme doesn’t go with the public opinion, it has to redefine the theme from the public’s ideas. However, it is also very important to deliver the theme to the public discussion by enabling the public understand the theme sufficiently because the public might not know and recall the valuable idea or concept. It doesn’t come from an elite perspective. Rather, it is more like a self-help approach, which stimulates the public’s creativities and then organizes them in an appropriate way.

As for the data collection, frankly I am not sure what data are adequate for this project. I am thinking of the central library users’ location and circulation population data. How widely is the library used? If possible, the activities and the events occurring in the library other than book rental seem appropriate to make my claim. However, I am not sure whether those data are available. Is there anyone who is interested in this theme and is willing to work together with me? I will welcome whoever wants to do it with me.


At 9:57 AM, Blogger Ben said...

Your idea can be important in advocating for the library, though the question remains on how to represent it with data. I suggest using a map of the collegiate system, and then researching and plotting innovative institutions around the nodes that have used those libraries. As an example, the College of Agriculture was instrumental in developing pasteurizing processes of dairy products during the early 20th century. They displayed their findings at the Chicago World Fair, and gained international attention for Wisconsin. The Wisconsin History book that we've been reading mentions the College of Agriculture in its section on dairy production.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Jeff Gibbens said...

In line with what Habermas said in Structural transformation of the public sphere, it is important that the public is involved in planning processes and that its collective will is expressed in the outcomes. The problem lies in how to know where people stand, how to make sure they have as much information as possible, how to guarantee that real content is communicated so that real progress can be made. That's why the connection to the Wisconsin Idea in this proposal is so powerful.

A question for everyone who is dealing with public libraries in their projects to keep in mind is, how does the concept of "demand" square with the other concepts of communication embodied in the Wisconsin Idea? Demand simplifies the issue of service to manageable consumer inputs and outputs to users, but this does not seem to be precisely what we intend by democracy.

As a long-time Madison east sider, I would like to see someone make a case for having more "elite" cultural products made available in my area. There's no Hilldale mall on the east side, and what you find in the bookstores over there is not what you find in the West Towne B & N or the University Ave. Borders. Alicia Ashman has a ton of classical music CDs not found elsewhere, too. Are these circumstances based on study of markets in the Madison area or on unsupported assumptions about the makeup of the market? And is it the mission of the library merely to supply demand or also to introduce unfamiliar materials to the reading population in general?


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