Writer-scholar-teacher-librarian extraordinaire Barbara Fister gave the keynote presentation at this year’s LOEX conference in Nashville, TN. I encourage you to read the full text of her presentation, which she described in the following abstract:
Developing both the skills and the disposition to engage in inquiry is a ubiquitous if ill- defined goal of higher education. Libraries are a space, physical and social, where students practice a number of inquiry skills they can use after graduation to make a living – and, more importantly, to make a difference. But it’s hard to take the long view. Students are focused on completing assignments as efficiently as possible. Faculty want to cover content. Administrators want strong retention and completion rates. Who has time to think about what comes next? The information universe that librarians invite students to use is so complex that learning just enough to complete academic tasks saturates our instructional efforts, distracting us from a fundamental question: what experiences do we provide that support long-lasting and meaningful learning? How will what students learn in our libraries today help them make meaning in the information universe of the future?
In her presentation, Fister asks us to critically and honestly examine what libraries are for, what universities are for, and what knowledge is for, both within the context of higher education but also with an eye toward creating lifelong learners. She then offers six ”outlandish claims” about first-year instruction to help us answer these questions:
- Research papers should not be part of the first-year experience.
- We should stop teaching students how to find sources.
- Very rarely are citations needed.
- We should stop policing plagiarism.
- We should stop implying that “scholarly” means “good.”
- Librarians should spend as much time working with faculty as with students.
As you wrap up your work week and move into the weekend, I hope you’ll think about these claims. I know I will!