Winter 2023 Blog Post 1

What does it mean to be a teaching library from the Reference & Instruction perspective? How do your experiences thus far, the readings, and tasks inform your sense of a library that participates in the teaching mission of the college?

Through readings and my small amount of experience I’ve had so far in Reference & Instruction, I’ve already learned so much about what it means to be a teaching library. Saunders & Wong’s article “Instruction in Libraries and Information Settings” was my first exposure to thinking of librarians as teachers. Even though I’d had librarians come into my classrooms before and was told to contact R&I librarians if I needed help finding information, I didn’t process that the one-shot style of instruction as opposed to repeated instruction was a form of teaching. Conceptualizing librarians as teachers makes total sense to me, and it rightfully gives credit to the important work of increasing information literacy in students. This is done both through one-shot classroom instruction, as well as providing support at the reference desk, creating and maintaining helpful online resources, and holding events like collaborations with TRIO to give information to students about the library’s resources.

It was also interesting to learn about the shifting language around teaching libraries and how the role of libraries in teaching changed over time. In the article “How We Got Here”, Ariew discusses how language shifted from “bibliographic instruction” to “information literacy” over time, along with shifting attitudes that took a broader approach of students understanding information rather than the more focused approach of print-bound bibliographic instruction. In the modern day, information comes in so many forms online, so knowing how to navigate and evaluate different types of sources is emphasized. This goes along with the shift from the original ACRL’s Standards, which were considered by some to be too simplistic and “one-right-answer for all” (Ariew, 215), to the currently-used Framework for Information Literacy for Higher EducationReading the Framework gave me a lot of insight into the ways in which libraries contribute to the teaching mission of the college. I noticed that I had been using many of the frames in my own studies and have developed a better understanding of them throughout my college experience, so it was nice to see them listed and defined as a goal of teaching libraries.