Information and the Future

This is the blog of the Information and the Future task force of the Rolfing Library at Trinity International University. The IF task force exists to explore the role of libraries in the future of Christian higher education.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Technology & Research - Continuing the Conversation

I would like to continue the conversation Rebecca and I have been having on technology and the future role of librarians. In a comment to a previous post Rebecca writes:
This takes it a step further to look at integration and use of the information. However, it makes me wonder about the librarian's role in this. (Always a blurry question with instruction.) It seems like this is something that fits with the professor's role in teaching the students to think more deeply about the topics they're teaching.

First, I think this raises an important issue - are (or should) librarians be considered faculty? I don't mean simply in rank but are or should there be similar expectations of scholarly expertise and expert level knowledge of fields beyond librarianship? Not perhaps at the exact level of the faculty but close enough that librarians can speak with authority on various disciplines. I think scholarly acumen used to be more commonly expected of librarians and perhaps we should reclaim the idea of librarian as scholar.

Second, I think there is a need to teach a basic literacy that moves beyond the content specific instruction of the university classroom. The helpful blog post, Academic Research a Painful Process For Students, points out that many students struggle with basic skills such as formulating a topic.

I think we can't assume that students have experience reading serious and lengthy books (and articles) and that the ability to do so is not a trivial accomplishment. Nor is this something likely to be covered in most classes. So I think librarians may have an opportunity to help teach the skills and especially foster the practices that lend themselves to understanding the world of books. Among those skills are:

Imagination
Concentration
Vocabulary
Grammar
Ability to understand metaphors
Ability to question written texts
Ability to persevere with a text
How and when to skim and how and when not too

This is all off the top of my head and I could say more but will stop for now.

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