Teaching in Libraries: A Recommended Reading List

Last week, a colleague asked me for a few reading recommendations about library instruction. It was so fun putting together this list of things that I’ve enjoyed and that have influenced me, and a couple other folks have asked to see it, so I thought I’d share it here, lightly edited. Hope you might find it useful, and I’d love to hear about your favorite reads as well!

Library Instruction Literature

I recently read Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think about Information, edited by Troy A Swanson and Heather Jagman, and found it really useful for contextualizing the bigger picture of library instruction. I especially liked every single essay in the first part, so think it’s worth your time to read through them all!

Char Booth’s Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning blew my mind in library school as the first evidence-based library instruction book I encountered, and it’s an A+ introduction to instructional design for librarians.

I was really inspired by Anne-Marie Deitering and Hannah Gascho Rempel’s “Sparking Curiosity: Librarians’ Role in Encouraging Exploration” piece in In the Library with the Lead Pipe recently. Their coordinated approach to thinking about research as an exploration made me excited about instruction all over again.

I love everything Veronica Arellano Douglas writes about instruction, and if you aren’t already reading her blog, please do: https://veronicaarellanodouglas.com/

Pretty sure that we’ve recommended Sara Fine’s “Librarians and the Art of Helping” here before, but I’m going to recommend it again. It’s about the reference desk, but reference and instruction are really on a continuum, and there’s lots of important ideas here about question-asking and how we talk to our learners.

Barbara Fister on everything is so great: https://barbarafister.net/

I’m not the hugest fan of tooting my own horn (though I’m trying to be better about it, thanks to the encouragement of some fabulous colleagues), but I actually think you could do worse than this article that Kevin and I wrote about some concrete strategies from the cognitive science literature for library instruction.

General Teaching Literature

While this book by educational psychologist Daniel T. Willingham is meant for K-12 teachers, it’s a great and accessible intro to the science of how people learn. I own two copies, and they are both loaned out at the moment to librarian colleagues: Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions about How the Mind Works and What It Means for Your Classroom.

bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress is a classic for a reason. I’m the director of a “new” Teaching & Learning Department, and I’ve come back to this several times recently in thinking about what our community of teaching practice can and should look like (see Chapter 3: Embracing Change and Chapter 10: Building a Teaching Community).

Do Learners Really Know Best? Urban Legends in Education” is a fun and eye-opening read. We read it as a department this quarter and it led to some really fruitful and interesting discussions about challenging our assumptions about learners.

I really enjoy and value books aimed at K-12, because there’s a lot to draw on for our work with older learners too, and I recently found The Gift of Failure to be really helpful for thinking through a process-orientation to research, and how we might model that in the classroom and reference desk.

Kevin (of course) pointed me to “Engaging students in learning activities: It is not autonomy support or structure but autonomy support and structure” and I think about this literally every single time I plan a class now.

A few blogs that I follow pretty closely: Benjamin Doxtdator (http://www.longviewoneducation.org/), Hybrid Pedagogy (http://www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/), and Hack Education (http://hackeducation.com/).

…anyway, that’s my little idiosyncratic list. Let me know what you would add!

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Filed under Bibliographic Instruction is Dead, Library Instruction, Posts by Dani Brecher, The Library Game

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