17 April 2012

What are you busy about? Post LILAC thoughts.

Coming home from conferences are often frustrating for me because reentry into work is so overwhelming.  Perhaps because I am about to transition to a new position (more on that later), I am taking a bit more time to reflect on LILAC Glasgow.  The thing that keeps coming to mind is that I find myself thinking about a different set of questions than when I come out of ACRL or ALA conferences.  Rather than thinking about what I can try in the classroom, I am thinking about what I can do for information literacy on a broader plane.

I am specifically thinking about Drs. Geoff Walton and Mark Hepworth's presentation, "This house believes that librarians and their services are the barrier to information literacy."  The workshop's provocative title snagged me right off the bat.  But I was glad when the presenters asked the delegates to break up into groups and identify what barriers we see to the success of information literacy. The group responses were excellent but it was actually something small that Geoff said that really stayed with me.  He talked about "marginal gain" and defined that as small differences in small steps that eventually becomes a large step and will change the world.  This has continued to work on me: What are the small steps that I am taking to change the world that I inhabit: the library, information literacy, pedagogy, inquiry, higher education, learning?  Do the questions that I ask and the work that I do consistently propel me further towards change?  This reminds me of a quote by Throeau that I write on my to-do list, my whiteboard, my notebooks, "It is not enough to be busy; what are you busy about."

This is really the crux of my argument when I talk about "Real Deal Information Literacy" or about teaching identity.  There are hard questions that we need to be asking about the work we are doing for our students.  And some of those questions strike a tender chord because they challenge what the role of the librarian is.  The best example I can give, and the one I hope to write more about, is do we want our students to know something about libraries or something about information?  Do we want them to have skills for the information environment, or just our information environment?

So, as we work with our colleagues, our students, our faculty, what steps are we taking and towards what end?  What are we busy about?

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