Knowledge Literacy: Making Sense in the Workplace

By Joshua Salmans

Parts of this life on our little blueberry we call home can be heartbreaking. Hate, misunderstanding, and myopic systems of thinking have time and again resulted in the senseless loss of life. I want to express my heart-felt dismay and sadness at the events that precipitated on Sunday—where 49 people in the LGBT and Orlando community were tragically taken from us. May love, peace, and continued education help eradicate such hatred and violence.


“I sit in the White House and what I read…and…see is the sum total of what I hear and learn. So the more people I can see, or the wider I can expose [my mind] to different ideas, the more effective [I] can be as President.”[i]

—President John F. Kennedy

Ted Sorensen, Kennedy’s special counsel and primary speechwriter, once observed that Kennedy “treated us more as colleagues or associates than employees.”[ii] Sorensen further described Kennedy’s rapport with his staff as “informal without being chummy, hard-driving but easy mannered, interested in us as people without being patronizing.”[iii] Unlike previous administrations, this informal rapport with his staff gave Kennedy the ability not to rely so much on the official channels of information within the mechanisms of government.

Kennedy considered the function of the President was to serve as a stimulant, making information move with more speed without too many hindrances from codified and outmoded systems of information flow. He did not trust unanimous committee recommendations as they often presented screened decisions that appealed to the “lowest common denominator of compromise” through strict structures of seniority and protocol[iv]; consequently, he only held general Cabinet meetings as necessary for internal communication rather than a tool for decision-making. Continue reading “Knowledge Literacy: Making Sense in the Workplace”

Turn the Tide We Must: Information Literacy and the Refugee Crisis

By Joshua Salmans

“[It]…will not be easy…Wishing it, predicting it, even asking for it, will not make it so. There will be further setbacks before the tide is turned. But turn it we must….” [i]

–President John F. Kennedy

This post is dedicated to my dearest friend and travel companion—her heart, humor, and love are the sincerest of any I’ve ever met, allowing her empathy coupled with active engagement to swell without inhibition for those who are seeking safe haven from the horrors of this world.

The Crisis

Feelings of trepidation and helplessness are increasingly inescapable as constant reports of people seeking refuge perishing as their overcrowded boats capsize in the Mediterranean Sea. Last year alone, more than a million people seeking refuge crossed this sea in order to make it to countries in the European Union (EU). This year has seen more than 190,000 people risked their lives to reach its shores.[ii] In addition to Syrians, Afghanis, and Iranians, those seeking asylum are from Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East, including Iran, Morocco, Eritrea, Somalia and Congo.[iii]

Even more disheartening are the conditions that await those who survive and can make long treks by foot, bus, or through smugglers to find refugee centers and then asylum. Reception by EU countries has been unfortunately mixed—some countries have closed their borders out of fear. Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia have all taken drastic measures to prevent people seeking refuge from crossing their borders even to get to other EU countries.[iv]

Centers for people seeking refuge are often overcrowded and barely meet standard humanitarian needs—lack of food, dirty water, and insufficient blankets as well as overflowing garbage and sewage that seeps into sleeping areas.[v]

My friend mentioned above relayed to me some of the horrific accounts of several families she met while volunteering at a camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. Their stories of hunger, nights spent hiding in forests, and brutality at the hands of authorities while traversing through neighboring EU countries are sobering. One family of ten unbelievably made this arduous journey with a grandmother who has cancer and other medical needs. I don’t have space here to relay their stories, but features some similar accounts that will grapple with your hearts. Continue reading “Turn the Tide We Must: Information Literacy and the Refugee Crisis”

Not because it is Simple, but because it is Complex

By Joshua Salmans

Here it is! Perhaps you haven’t been on the edge of seat waiting for it, but I myself have struggled to produce my first blog post after almost a year of pondering its possible existence. I am a 34-year-old graduate student at the University of South Carolina (USC) who has frequently struggled to find voice on this small blueberry we call home. My journey to find voice is probably the responsible agent for my curiosity and passion for information literacy in librarianship.

I shall avoid boring you with the ramblings about my adult journey other than to express how often I felt alone when seeking information about complex things this world throws at us. In my experience, librarians (I might add teachers here as well) were one of the few in a constant state of readiness on the front lines of information literacy.

Archibald MacLeish, the poet Librarian of Congress during World War II, once exhorted librarians to be more than “patented machines” for delivering books to the user—rather, they should be “champions of a cause.”[i] This cause, he speaks of, is not an easy task, but one to be reckoned with: creating an intellectual learning space for a democratic electorate to flourish as an informed citizenry.

Some 76 years later, David Lankes, the new and upcoming Director of the School of Information and Library Science (SLIS) at USC, reminds us of this powerful impetus in his vlog post, “Rocket Science is Easy.”[ii] He makes a case for librarianship maintaining relevancy by focusing efforts on solutions to its community’s complex issues. Continue reading “Not because it is Simple, but because it is Complex”