Dec 15, 2020

New Book on Ideology and Libraries by Professor Michael Buckland

Professor Emeritus Michael Buckland’s new book, Ideology and Libraries: California, Diplomacy, and Occupied Japan, 1945–1952, was recently published by Rowman & Littlefield. 

The book was inspired by an oral history he recorded on alumnus Robert Gitler ’31, who went to Japan in 1950 to found the country’s first college-level school of library science.  Buckland felt that there was more to the story, and on and off for the next twenty years, he continued to explore the context and the characters involved; he found that many roads lead back to the I School. 

At the time, although the Japanese populace was extremely literate and publishing flourished, the role of the public library was underdeveloped when Gitler went to Japan. “Library services, ordinarily publicly funded, reflect the cultural values and political priorities of their context,” Buckland said. “Japan before 1945 had a highly centralized government run by a fascist militarist regime, a conformist and culturally homogenous society, little social mobility, and education dominated by preparation for examinations and admission requirements. In this environment, so different from the emphasis on local government, individual self-improvement, and democratic ideals in the USA, public libraries and independent learning received little support.”

“Library services...reflect the cultural values and political priorities of their context.”
— Michael Buckland

Two alumni in particular were key players in this story: Philip Keeney and Paul Jean Burnette. Keeney was a supposed Soviet spy, and he proposed replicating the California county library system in Japan. Burnette was a specialist in the use of libraries to influence opinion in foreign countries. Buckland’s investigation of their stories provided the added benefit of serving as case studies for examining the complex social forces that shape the design of information services.

In this new work, Buckland examines the role of libraries in diplomacy, California’s library history, and this School’s contributions. He was assisted by Professor Masaya Takayama, former Director of the National Archives of Japan, and a former I School visiting scholar. Takayama is both an alumnus and an emeritus professor at the School founded by Professor Gitler in Japan.

Professor Buckland has served on the faculty of the School of Information since 1976 and was the dean of the school from 1976 to 1984; during his deanship, he oversaw the renaming of the school from the School of Librarianship to the School of Library and Information Studies. From 1983 to 1987, he served as the assistant vice president for library plans and policies for the nine-campus University of California system. Buckland and Professor Clifford Lynch continue to lead the I School’s Friday afternoon Information Access Seminars, which they began in 1991 and are open to the entire community.

If you’d like to order a copy of Professor Buckland’s book, orders from within the US placed directly through this link will receive a 30% discount using this code: RLFANDF30.

Last updated: December 15, 2020