Alumnus Greg Borman Publishes Article About Rural Libraries

Community Profile

Borman’s article, “Rural U.S. libraries: Serving populations and meeting challenges,” appeared in the August 2009 issue of Library Student Journal. The process of expanding and revising his 15-page research paper so that it took the shape of a traditional research study was “at times very involving,” Borman said, but the hard work paid off upon publication.

“The Library Student Journal peer reviewers provided feedback emphasizing that I had written a well-researched paper about a unique topic in librarianship, but they also pushed me to include more responses from the professionals I surveyed, clearly articulate a thesis, and address the definition of ‘rural’,” Borman said.

Borman, who earned his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from the San Francisco Art Institute, previously focused his publishing efforts on reviewing contemporary art exhibits in the Bay Area. While earning his MLIS degree, Borman also reviewed Art and China’s Revolution, a book covering 20th century artistic developments in China, for ARLIS/NA Reviews, an online selection aid maintained by the Art Libraries Society of North America. While Borman values his MFA degree, he has found librarianship to be an excellent match for his abilities to organize information digitally and physically and help people with their reference needs.

During his time at iSchool, Borman completed internships at the University of San Francisco’s Gleeson Library/Geschke Center and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco’s C. Laan Chun Library Center. He also worked for the California State Library, Sutro and a personnel placement firm focusing on law and corporate libraries.

Researching and writing about rural libraries, the majority of which were public, was something of a departure from Borman’s coursework focus on special libraries. He was inspired to investigate the topic in part because of a family member’s sociology work, which has included studying urban Appalachians in Ohio and Kentucky.

To research his topic, Borman sent out questionnaires to numerous U.S. rural librarians and members of organizations that support them, eventually selecting roughly 15 responses to use for his paper. Borman noted that “the librarians and organization members were incredibly helpful – a number of them forwarded my questionnaire to peers or alerted others via listservs.”

After finishing his paper for Prof. Ziming Liu’s class, Borman sought out venues for publication and discovered the web-based Library Student Journal, which describes itself as seeking to “publish the best papers from LIS students worldwide.” As soon as his article was posted online, he notified many of the rural librarians he interviewed and was enthused by their positive reactions to his writing and research.

“This project ended up being a really good way to broaden my knowledge beyond special and academic libraries,” said Borman, who finished his iSchool course work in December 2009. While fine–tuning the article required hours of work both during and in between semesters, “it was definitely a valuable experience.”