Taxonomies of Denial: Ways We Subtly Reject Evidence-Based Practice (Pt. 2: Individual Denials)

Following up on yesterday’s post on denial:

The next couple deniers tend to be more personal in nature. This is maybe more the kind of thing you may see on the ground.

For example, you may run into:

The Know it All: The know it all just KNOWS something won’t work, whether there’s compelling evidence for this or not.

For example:

“This won’t work. I tried something not really similar to this at all under a completely dissimilar set of circumstances in 2004; therefore, this thing you’re doing now won’t work.”

You may also have occasion to someday encounter

The Mind-Reader: Similar to the know-it-all, the mind-reader already knows something, but it’s about what other people think.

For example:

“Faculty don’t want us to [x.].”

“Oh, have you tried talking to them about [x]? I’ve actually done it several times and have gotten really great feedback. And I actually got the idea from a really cool recent study in Reference Services Review.”

“Well no, I just know they don’t like it.”

The Mind-Reader.

One may also come to encounter:

The Librarianship Gatekeeper: The librarianship gatekeeper maintains there’s some things that JUST ARE important for librarians to do, even if there’s no real evidence that these things actually continue to be important in any measurable terms of helping connect users with quality materials that matter to them.

“The reference desk is important. We must staff the reference desk with full-time librarians at all times, even during UNC-Basketball games – no, ESPECIALLY during UNC basketball games.”

“But we haven’t gotten an actual reference question since Jordan played for UNC.”

“It doesn’t matter. The reference desk is important. It’s what librarians do. Sit at the reference desk and wait for questions. Besides, right before MJ hit the game-winning shot against Georgetown someone asked how to check out reserve materials. I directed them to circulation.”

The librarianship gatekeeper.

Similar to the librarianship gatekeeper is

The Boundary Preserver: The boundary preserver has clear boundaries for what counts as librarianship and what does not, and anything falling outside these boundaries, even if it successfully helps achieve traditional librarian goals, is dismissed as “not librarianship.”

Example: “Why should librarians read educational literature? We’re librarians, not teachers.”

The Faculty Worshiper: The faculty worshiper thinks that a faculty member requesting their services more than one time is evidence that they are delivering successful instruction and that their instructional approaches are the best ones they could be adopting to help students learn.

“I know I stood there for 50 minutes and talked about where to locate the peer-reviewed article button in 132 different databases, but the faculty member liked it! S/he invited me back to do the same thing next semester … I’m a great teacher and my students must be learning a lot!”

The Lit Skeptic: The lit skeptic thinks that the library literature is weak, lacking in evidence, and poorly argued; therefore, they never have to look at any of it.

“I read an article once in 1996 that seemed to me not very good; therefore, I don’t really care what the library literature is saying now on topic [x]”.

The Library School Savant: The library school savant knows that everything worth knowing is something they would have learned during library school.

Non-Savant: “This thing seems cool, huh?”

Savant: “They didn’t teach us that in library school.”

Non-Savant: “Well I’m we should definitely do it then!”

The Genius: The genius already knew everything there is to know about how to be an effective librarian a long time ago; therefore, anything the literature now says about student learning, librarianship, or anything else, is pure bullshit a bunch of young people are doing to destroy the profession.

Non-Genius: “N.C. State seems to be doing some really cool stuff with maker spaces to connect with students. Check this out.”

Genius: [Eye-roll]. “I”m going to go place some orders for the print reference collection.”

I”m sure there are others. I invite readers to let me know what I”m missing.



Filed under Bibliographic Instruction is Dead, Education, Library Instruction, On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, The Library Game

3 responses to “Taxonomies of Denial: Ways We Subtly Reject Evidence-Based Practice (Pt. 2: Individual Denials)

  1. I’ve met all of these, but there’s a special place in my heart for the lit skeptic, especially after I read yet another CR&L News where every.single.article. is about yet another aspect of facilities management.

  2. Correction: I’ve never met a library school savant. In fact, I’ve rarely met anyone who would swear that their LS education was in any way helpful to their practice….

    • Kevin Michael Klipfel

      Richard, sorry this is like … oh, six months later.

      One version of the ‘library school savant’ I’ve come across is something like this:

      Person who went to library school in the 1970’s:

      “(P1) When I was in library school, we had an assignment where we collected 1,492 print resources and wrote an annotated bibliography about them.

      (P2) At least some librarians who graduated from LIS programs in the 2000’s/2010’s did not have to do this.

      (c) Therefore, all librarians who graduated from LIS programs in the 2000’s/2010’s are radically deficient in their LIS training compared to librarians who graduated in the 1970’s.”

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