Now that I’m back at home, I’ve looked back on the past weeks and started sorting the many impressions. Not only did I learn a lot about the transmission of information literacy in libraries, but I also spoke with many people about topics as diverse as technical lectures, continuing education, budget allocation and organization, strategic planning, website design, places of learning, events programming and much more. Such a broad range of opinions and libraries don’t let themselves be easily summarized under one conclusion.
So, I return to my initial question at the beginning of my residency: “How is information literacy discussed in the USA in 2012 and how is it applied in the place of learning that is the library?”
I only rarely saw the term “information literacy” applied. Academic libraries focus primarily on “instruction” and consultation, both of which are naturally encompassed within the broad spectrum of ACRL standards. With the strong integration into seminars and course-specific offerings, libraries have positioned information literacy as an indispensible research method for academic studies.
Public libraries, on the other hand, think about literacy in many different forms. “Literacy” is defined quite broadly and is no longer restricted to a component of the library business. Literacy includes many different themes from “citizen literacy” to “media and digital literacy” to “financial literacy” in regards to the current financial crisis. This broad interpretation is made possible through the engagement of volunteers, cooperation with other institutions and businesses, as well as the continuing education of the staff. None of these diverse programs struck me as arbitrary. The strategic alignment with and integration of urban and societal developments (in particular through intensive monitoring of demographics) is quite advanced.
My question if “teaching libraries have been replaced by workshops, media centers and information commons“ can be answered with both a yes and a no. Yes, because teaching libraries are rarely called that anymore and include a very broad spectrum of activities. No, because concrete and didactic training with a main focus on information literacy standards still belongs to the core business and future of libraries.
My first conclusion is that it makes sense to rethink various library departments and strategically combine them around the themes of “user interaction” or “communication and interaction”. This goes beyond coordinating a “library use department” and fundamentally asks if and how each of the library’s service offerings dovetails with the goals of the library. Regardless if one is redesigning a website or a new place of learning, using social media or giving reference, offering cultural programming or training in information literacy – the library’s intentions, the continuous inclusion of its users, and its reactions to current events must be clear, transparent and recognizable for not just the staff, but for all users as well as the general public.
Wednesday, 17. October 2012
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