Huge congratulations to my friend and fellow UNC SILS library school alum Alex Carroll for his award from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the MLA
for Professional Excellence by a New Health Sciences Librarian. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving librarian or a better dude. Next Pappy on me when I see you brother.
Students of the game, we passed the classes. Nobody could read you dudes like we do.
The librarian doesn’t tell me what to read, doesn’t tell me what sequence of reading I have to follow, doesn’t grade my reading. The librarian trusts me to have a worthwhile purpose of my own. I appreciate that and trust the library in return.
Some other significant differences between libraries and schools: the librarian lets me ask my own questions and helps me when I want help, not when she decides I need it. If I feel like reading all day long, that’s okay with the librarian, who doesn’t compel me to stop at intervals by ringing a bell in my ear. The library keeps its nose out of my home. It doesn’t send letters to my family, nor does it issue orders on how I should use my reading time at home.
The library doesn’t play favorites; it’s a democratic place as seems proper in a democracy. If the books I want are available, I get them, even if that decision deprives someone more gifted and talented than I am. The library never humiliates me by posting ranked lists of good readers. It presumes good reading is its own reward and doesn’t need to be held up as an object lesson to bad readers….
The library never makes predictions about my future based on my past reading habits. It tolerates eccentric reading because it realizes free men and women are often very eccentric.
My awesome colleague George Thompson passed this along to me. I think it summarizes nicely what, to me, is probably the most fundamental thing to keep in mind as a librarian, educator, or human being more generally: that genuine connection with other human beings is at the core of everything we do.
I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
I was having a passing conversation the other day with our new library dean and another librarian at my university that all of the sudden involved me pontificating (a rare occurrence, to be sure) on the nature of education. I’m leading a project at my university where we’re creating a formal information literacy curriculum with written outcomes, modules, and assessments, and several librarians are involved in the process.
At any rate, as I said, we were talking kind of in passing after the meeting about whether there are things, objectively speaking, that “students should know.” I think this is a common view in libraries and in education. Let’s call it:
The Objective Importance View: There’s just some things an educated person should know.
This is, I think, probably uncontroversial on the face of it. After all, what the hell are we doing here, if not educating students about stuff they should know?
But here’s the thing. I actually think The Objective Importance View is false. More colloquially, I probably think it’s controlling bullshit.
“If you just sit down and say, ‘I’m going to learn this thing until I do,'” he says, “there’s not really much out there that you can’t figure out eventually.”
Interesting little story, basketball fan or not.
Home was the place where I was forced to conform to someone else’s image of who and what I should be. School was the place where I could forget that self and, through ideas, reinvent myself.
Bell Hooks, Teaching to Transgress, p. 3.
[…] the pleasure of teaching is an act of resistance countering the overwhelming boredom, uninterest, and apathy that so often characterize the way professors and students feel about teaching and learning, about the classroom experience
Bell Hooks, Teaching to Transgress, p. 10.