Tuesday, July 7, 2009

250 Words: Librarians as Teachers

Libraries are strange, mysterious places. The older a library is the greater the possibility of hidden treasures, materials sequestered away, available while remaining unavailable. Not hidden in corners or cabinets or closets, but in books and magazines and databases.

It is essential Librarians be teachers as well as explorers. Knowing a collection means knowing how the collection is arranged and what it contains. Librarians do not want to hide what is in the collection but show people how to find what is there. To do this the Librarian must have an understanding of the tools needed to find what is there and a creative approach to using those tools. Sometimes, we need to make those tools from scratch because the ones available are inadequate.

Generally, we teach one-on-one, as those seeking ask for direction. Some of our instruction becomes rote, saying the same thing over and over; click here, type there, press Enter, look for this, do that. How mundane for us. But for the person we're teaching it's an adventure. Watch your attitudes, folks.

However, it is becoming necessary to teach larger groups, especially the how-to's of using electronic databases and the Internet. Two things are needed for this kind of teaching: an intimate understanding of what is available and how it changes - sometimes daily, and a teaching style bordering on entertaining. Capture their attention and make them do something they will remember.

Most Librarians don't have these traits. Some do, but don't want to teach groups.

Gerald F. Ward

No comments:

Post a Comment