29 July 2008

Immersion: Day 1

Whew…what a day. What kind of day was it? The kind of day that makes my brain feel like it is on fire. My synapses are firing even after 13 hours of Info Lit. I guess we could say that is a good, good sign.

The day started off with the Opening Plenary. Both the Teacher and Program tracks met together for the morning to talk about the different lenses of information literacy. A lot of this session focused on readings we had done ahead of time, particularly Christine Bruce’s article, “The Seven Faces of Information Literacy.” Personally, I love sessions that draw on readings but also combine a healthy dose of personal experience and philosophizing. I sat with a terrific group of librarians, all from different institutions: from a community college, one of the country’s largest research universities, an elite boarding school, a large state college. Coming from a small, private college library, I wasn’t sure if we would make a lot of connections. I need never worry about that again. Together, we talked about what resonated with us personally from the readings but also how the readings should influence our teaching and learning. Between my group and the contributions from the larger session, I gained an awful lot of insight into how people view the opportunities and challenges of info lit. One thing that really stuck with me though was some key tips from the Immersion faculty:
1. Be Human.
2. Be Playful.
3. Have Fun.
It seems so basic but I think that when we are faced with those challenges and opportunities, it is easy to lose sight of those important qualities and focus only the work or the program or the outcomes or the meeting. Good advice.

The afternoon included an interesting and pretty enlightening session on leadership for the Program Track. I found out that I am a Symbolic Leader. Some characteristics include providing inspiration and exciting people through enthusiasm and stories. That certainly sounds Sheck-like. But I also learned a great deal about the importance of other modes of leadership and the essentiality of balance and integrity in decision making and collaboration.

Finally, we met with our cohort groups to talk over case studies about our info lit programs. The feeling of working in our cohort was safe, encouraging, supportive, and constructive. For me, I walked out of there feeling two things:
1. Learning from one another and our efforts, experiments, successes and failures = Priceless.
2. I have wonderful colleagues in the library, in the faculty, in the administration. I have such a supportive and open minded director. I work at an incredibly innovative, creative, progressive institution.
I often feel this way when I read blogs from librarians but today, I felt it acutely in part because I listen to others’ experiences and they are not always as positive. And in part because I know that the lessons I learn at Immersion and from the people here will be lessons my colleagues will be eager to hear and grow from as well. And that is pretty special.

One final word: every time I go to library conferences or events, I am astonished by the creativity, intelligence, devotion, and vision of librarians. Immersion is intensifying that perception. The people I am meeting here are wonderful. They are fiercely committed to the betterment of our students, our faculties, our institutions but also higher ed and society as a whole by creating more aware, critical, and prepared users. It is exciting and inspirational.

Needless to say, I am exhausted, as you must be if you read all the way down here. My pillow calls.

1 comment:

Von Burkhardt said...

Wow 13 hours? That quite the day. I liked the tips, especially the part about having fun.