The Organic Library

I interviewed the children’s librarian at Mundy Library yesterday for a class project. When we were talking about the resources her library offers to the community, she mentioned that they have a social worker on staff a few days each week. We began talking about the need for other people as resources in the library and I mentioned one of the ideas from the reading was “checking-out” experts, for example a lawyer, a nurse, or an accountant. These professionals would donate their time to come in and consult with patrons on a one-on-one basis (p.67).

I think this is an amazing idea for many of the library’s in the area. What if each library were to host a different professional one or two days each week. First off, the expert would be able to connect and market their skills to a unique group of people. Secondly, this would not be limited to one population of members; it would be a draw for the surrounding areas as well. I know around tax season I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to consult with an accountant, for free, to answer a few questions I have about filling out those forms.

Despite the great advances we have had as a society, the common perception is still that a library is that place with all the books. Why can’t it be that place where I was able to answer some question or the place where I created something? One of the big movements in library’s right now is the idea of the Makerspace. Fayetteville Free Library has created an amazing space for members with their Fab Lab. What I like about this is the space is not limited to the 3-D printer (although that could warrant its own area), but also brings in sewing machines and other resources to allow the entire community to utilize the Lab and see its value.

Another reimagining of the role of the librarian and the library is the idea of “production librarians” (p.67) who would, beyond their roles producing for the library itself, work for members who need a “production assistant” to implement their project. These individuals and others would help us redefine what a library is for the general public by making us (as librarians) the expert and our skills more accessible (or easily identified) to our members.

The idea of a library is organic and grows from the community it represents; by limiting the offerings of a library, we are in affect stifling the community and their opportunity to develop.


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Creating Lifelong Learners

The idea of creating lifelong learners is certainly not a new one in the field of education. You can commonly see this phrase used in mission statements of schools and teachers, but what does it mean? I was reading for one of my classes at SU and was really caught by a definition of information literacy the ALA wrote in 1989.

“To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information… Ultimately, information literate people are those who have learned how to learn… They are people prepared for life-long learning, because they can always find the information needed for any task or decision at hand.” (p. 227)

While many teachers would no doubt agree with this statement, I know it wasn’t one that I read when I was forming my ideas on how I would reach my students. The some of the key knowledge which was imparted to me on how people learn was in the Constructivist model, which says that people are active learners. Teachers can facilitate a students learning, but they can’t simply impart their knowledge and expect student will learn the information.

Information literate people are better able to work within the world because they have learned how to evaluate the information they are presented with, how to find further information on the topic, and how to utilize that information to achieve their purpose. Furthermore, because of their self-propelled quest for knowledge, information literate learners are also independent learners. They are people who work to improve the community they belong to by sharing the information they have learned. (p. 226)

All that sounds like something to aspire to personally and for students or library members. Therefore, the goal is to reach our students and the community through activities and exercises that allow them to learn and implement the skills of information literacy.

Hinchliffe, L.J. (2011). Instruction. In R.E. Bopp & L.C. Smith (Eds.), Reference and information services (221-260). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, LLC.


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Creating Knowledge

I just finished reading the second thread in “The Atlas of New Librarianship,” which is about the importance of conversations in the process of creating knowledge. Now, my first thought on this was, well of course they are. You ask questions to learn and the answers of those questions help you to deepen your understanding of a topic. What I didn’t consider was that sitting here in front of my computer I’m having a conversation with myself while writing this. Yeah, I’m talking to myself. Not to worry though, it’s all happening inside my head (this time). Oh by the way, while reading this so are you… creepy huh?

The main argument in this chapter, in my opinion, is that a book can’t teach you. What it can do however, is help you teach yourself by causing you to ask yourself questions about what you read. Huh? This is something pretty important for educators to consider when working with learners. You can facilitate their learning, assisting them in processing the information (more conversation). You can also encourage them to ask themselves those questions (like for example by keeping a journal). These questions clarify the information and lead the learner to make new connections for themselves.

Everyone has knowledge and that knowledge is not the same as any other persons. Through experiences, your worldview, you interpret facts and information in unique ways. Engaging in conversations with other people enables more questions to be asked, even if one of the participants is an expert on the topic. There are always new ideas that can be incorporated into existing knowledge.

Lastly, I’d like to point out that knowledge is the lowest order in the original Bloom’s Taxonomy ( The real question is what are you going to do with that knowledge?

PS. Are you talking to yourself again?


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Crafting a Mission

According to R.D. Lankes text, “The Atlas of New Librarianship,” “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.” This statement is broad and encompasses the entire field of librarianship, from public to academic, from schools to special collections. Additionally, the definition of a library is currently evolving to incorporate more diverse collections of materials. Perhaps the solution for a librarian, whether new or invested in a position, is to have a personal mission statement.

I first encountered the concept of having a personal mission while I was pursuing my teaching degree. At Le Moyne, one of the tasks for preservice or student teachers was to develop a brief statement that encompassed our goals and who we were as teachers. I created the following statement at that time to summarize my views:

“My mission as a teacher is to help all my students succeed by providing them with every possible learning opportunity. I will strive to achieve this goal by teaching in ways that meet all of my students’ needs. As an adult and authority figure, I will apply the rules consistently and universally to my students. I will endeavor to treat all of my students with respect individually and culturally.” (Brown 2008)

Now, while my ideas have changed, I still view this exercise as critical to my development as a professional. Within my current viewpoint as a new library student, drawing on the new librarianship mission and my prior views, I would like to share the following as my new and evolving mission as a librarian:

 My mission as a librarian is to facilitate access to information for all the diverse members of my library community as they each pursue their search for knowledge. I will work within my community to improve the state of our society by providing services and programs that my members need to foster their journeys. I will strive to create a welcoming environment for all community members. I will continue to grow and expand my knowledge in the field of librarianship to better serve each of my members needs.

While this certainly doesn’t address all of a librarians responsibilities, I believe that it does sum up their intention or purpose. I imagine that if you wrote your own mission it would differ from mine and that’s to be expected as each person is unique. I would however assume that they would all have something in common, some theme that would tie them all together. I hope you will be inspired to create your own mission and apply to your current role or use it as a guide to your continued development in the field.

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This blog is beginning as a school project to share my experiences as a new library student at the iSchool at Syracuse University. Additionally, it is a forum for discussing and clarifying opinions I have developed through the readings and classwork. I encourage readers to comment on my posts, argue, and share their own opinions.

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