In an effort to do this before I forget...
For the next panel, the group I want to study is.... LIBRARIANS! Do you all think this works? I'm not sure in exactly which way I should be looking at this, because it is very flexible. The degree for someone wanting to go into the library field is called the MLIS: Master in Library and Information Science, but you can also get an MSLIS: Master of Science in Library and Information Science. Whoa. So that should be both science and information right there, right? But not only that, it's the science of information.
But from there, I could also look at librarians and gender. I'm thinking along the lines of....
From http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/08/03/, found via the blog http://li843.wordpress.com/page/3/
It would also be incredibly easy to look at some of the technology librarians use including subscriptions to databases software to manage digital collections for departments such as Special Collections. But I could probably talk about that for the whole class... LIS is a pretty broad field. Maybe my group would be better focused to librarians with degrees in LIS who work in college/academic libraries. ....Is that too specific?
So now onto the questions:
When did they flourish? Where did they flourish, and in what context? Well the first library school was started 1887 at Columbia University, but of course librarians have been around much longer than that... Library of Alexandria, anyone? But I think anything that constitutes as an organization of information counts as a library (including private libraries). But I think now is a time when LIS is really flourishing, and possibly even more so in the future. One field that has become increasingly more important is the field of digital humanities. What do you need for the digital humanities? Digital librarians! According to the U.S. World and News Report via Wikipedia, LIS was ranked as one of the "Best Careers of 2008." And although we need different kinds of librarians to handle the new type of information being produced, we still need librarians who are specialists in special collections or archives ("old" information). Because after all, digital information needs a way of being preserved and cataloged so that it can become archives.
Who was their audience? Anyone who needs information or help! In the case of a library within a college, this could be students, faculty, staff, friends or relatives of any of the above, or the general public, depending on the services needed.
Why do they matter? Librarians help organize information and resources in order to make it accessible to their audience. Tools such as search databases (or card catalogs, back in the day) list the information the library currently has access to. This includes access to some online databases, which our library database Tripod has available in within the search function. Another tool available to help the accessibility of information is ILL or inter-library loan. Without librarians, it would take so much more effort to compile information. They can be especially helpful in terms of academic libraries with things such as Special Collections or Rare Books where you might not be able to afford to look at the pieces without the intermediary of the library.
I think that covers the questions? Let me know if there's something I'm missing/if something I've said is unclear