I’ve been working at my new job for less than a month, but already I’m raising some eyebrows. And for once, it’s not the piercings or tattoos.
And, no, it’s not even the shelf of new books (wildly popular new books, I might add) that maybe kinda sorta definitely have some risque content.
I’m not even talking about wiping out the library reservation system our teachers knew and loved with one fell swoop.
So what am I doing that’s so controversial?
Direct instruction to students was a vital part of my GSLIS school library teacher program, most notably my practicum experience and the internship I worked just before and after I graduated. From our required coursework on instructional strategies and curriculum frameworks to planning a lesson to teach fifth graders how to evaluate websites, I’m pretty comfortable when it comes to library instruction.
But mention that I want to give bibliographic instruction, and you’d think I’d suggested kicking off the school year with a bonfire using Catcher in the Rye as kindling.
If recent conversations on Twitter are any indication, some–perhaps many–librarians firmly believe that bibliographic instruction isn’t a librarian’s job. From worries about time pressures to a more philosophical belief that librarians should help teens find information, not evaluate or use it, concerns about bibliographic instruction raise more fundamental questions about my role as a school librarian.
Are we really here just to help teens find information, and should we just walk away if they have questions about how to use it? When it comes to content that classroom teachers could or should be teaching (and when that content is research skills, that’s probably a conversation in itself!) do we decide instruction isn’t worth our time? And heck, do teens even need to know how to do bibliographies by hand?
Personally, I’d say the answers are no, no, no, and sort of–but what do you think? And does it make a difference if we’re school librarians or public librarians?