Information literacy, teaching library, learning library…The focus of my daily work and of that of my visit as 2012 “Librarian in Residence” is sometimes difficult to explain. “We work with college and high school students on how they can attain the information they need” is a simplified version, but it no longer comes close to the reality of teaching libraries and of library information services. The US is known as the country that originated the teaching library, so what could be more obvious than to go there? So I begin my stay, as one of two 2012 Librarians in Residence, at the place where the teaching library originated.
The Library of the University of California, Berkeley, which established the concept of the teaching library as part of its curriculum and training, is the ideal place to begin. But today, when many libraries, also in Europe, have refigured and expanded their training as teaching libraries, one has to look long and hard at the homepage of Berkeley’s Moffit Library to find “teaching library”. Instead, there’s information on chat rooms, workshops, tours, and much more. What new developments and ideas have occurred here? What has happened? So the first question I ask is not: What’s going on at Berkeley today and how can we carry it over to Germany, but rather: How is information literacy talked about in the US in 2012 and how do teaching libraries deal with it? Have the teaching libraries dissolved into workshops, media centers and information commons? Berkeley is the starting point for me of a trip into the complex information literacy world of the US, with discussions on developments, controversies and social contexts. But I’d also like to discuss the concrete details of everyday librarz work life in the US and Germany -- methods of assessment and conveyance of media literacy, for example.
The second part of my stay, in New York, will also be devoted to concrete issues. As leader of the teaching library team of a regional library I’m confronted with very concrete questions, which I’d like to focus on while in New York: How do libraries handle their balancing act between research library and public mandate? For a regional library such as mine, a broader perspective is very valuable – a “basic” transmission of university library concepts would not take into account the heterogeneity of library patrons and media. In the US, larger public libraries often fulfill educational and research-oriented objectives. So what I would like to know is: what services, in terms of research and educational needs, does a public library offer, in the areas of information literacy, information services and place of learning, that don’t simply mirror what a college library offers? How are the interests of high school students addressed? And how are those who do not belong to any target group and who use the library for diverse private or professional reasons included in target group-oriented services? How is the heterogeneity of library users dealt with?
My concern as a 2012 Librarian in Residence is, on the one hand, to discover unanticipated concepts in the field of information literacy, and on the other, to keep in mind the diverse elements of the field of information literacy and its contact points with almost every other area of the library. For this reason I wish to find out more concerning places of learning, web services and such that extends beyond concrete information literacy services.
Ideally, the teaching library as learning library effects not only learning on the part of the user –so, too, do I wish to be a learning librarian in Berkeley and New York, and return home with a backpack full of ideas, points of discussion and impressions!