Last year, I had the most unlikely of revelations. After I stopped thinking about the creepiness of Javier Bardem in Skyfall (the part where he pulls his teeth out—yikes), I realized that, oh yes, there is a terrific analogy to library instruction in every. single. James. Bond. movie. We’re Q, and it’s time to embrace it.
In the universe of college teaching, especially when we’re coming at it from a student-centered perspective, the student is James Bond. They’re on a critical mission in every one of their classes: write an amazing research paper, master disciplinary content and methods, get an A.
That makes the faculty member M. She defines the parameters of the mission, informs our favorite super spy of the stakes, and James is ultimately responsible to her.
Our role as librarians, then, is as Q, the eccentric inventor who always shows up at just the right time with just the right tools that make Bond’s mission a success. Even though he only shows up for a fraction of the movie, no Bond movie is complete without a visit from Q (I mean, Q is what made Skyfall the best movie of the Daniel Craig franchise).
What does this mean for us in practice? As instruction librarians, we need to own the important role that we play in the college classroom. The information literacy concepts (and the important relationships they have with critical thinking) are crucial to student success, and that is where we provide expertise. When we meet with faculty members about working with their courses, this is what we have to get across: That we bring something important and unique to the conversation about student success.
To extend this metaphor even further, librarians, like Q, show up at the most opportune moment. Or, at least, we should. The skills that we teach are most effective when they are tied to an assignment, giving students the motivation and opportunity to apply what they’ve learned. We can position ourselves as an ally to students; we have no stake in grading, and our sessions (either in class or one-on-one) are aimed at improving their final product. If we show up right when they need resources for their paper, then basically we’re magic.
I actually think we’re really lucky to be in this position—it’s one of strength, once we successfully convey the value of our work to our institutions, liaison departments, etc. Which, of course, is often a challenge, but the potential payoff is huge. So it’s pretty excellent to be Q, even though sometimes it can be frustrating not to be Judi Dench in a power suit.
And, well, Q has the coolest toys. Who doesn’t want a bagpipe flamethrower?