Category Archives: The Library Game

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

The Information Behavior of Librarians: A Super-Scientific Study

Based on about four years of periodically checking this blog’s traffic, here’s my super scientific impression of the percent of people who click on various kinds of links when I link to something on this blog.

Pictures of me or Dani: 99.9%

Any anecdotal thing I’ve said about threshold concepts that I thought about for less than three seconds: 92.4%

Ryan Gosling memes: 72.3%

Links to personal websites of guest bloggers: 68%

Links to persons, places, or things I just insulted: 49.6%

Papers we’ve authored: 19.1 %

Articles I think are extremely important for people in our profession to read: <1%

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Filed under Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, The Library Game

Opposing Viewpoints

I don’t generally comment on what other people in the profession are writing or blogging about (ironically,  I suppose, I don’t read any library blogs), but on my esteemed co-blogger’s twitter I came across and enjoyed this post by Lane Wilkinson on “Dealing with Both Sides in Your Library.” I liked it not just because I tend to agree with its general sentiments :re folks with morally repugnant and intellectually indefensible positions, but also because I haven’t seen a ton of discussion (though I haven’t really looked) about how dumb it is to think that “pro” vs. “con” or “for” and “against” is at all an interesting or nuanced way to think about research, debate, or anything else that is not a sporting event.

This has come up in a variety of professional contexts for me (e.g., at one job I had I was against showing freshmen the “Opposing Viewpoints” database because, well, there’s just evidence for or against a particular claim, not “opposing viewpoints, which aversion was met by horror for some other librarians) and it’s nice to see someone explaining why it’s not all that great.

More controversially, perhaps: I really like the tone (at least in this post) Lane writes with, and am glad to have people who conduct themselves that way publicly in the profession.

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Filed under Education, Library Instruction, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, The Library Game, Uncategorized

First Review of “Learner-Centered Pedagogy”!

Our publisher just sent over a link to the first review of Learner-Centered Pedagogy and it’s … a good one!

An excerpt:

Fusing theory with practice, this handbook is exceptionally organized and presented, making it a valuable and very highly recommended resource to help every practitioner connect with learners more effectively. Enhanced with the inclusion of a eight page bibliography (Directions for Further Reading) and an eleven page Index, “Learner-Centered Pedagogy: Principles and Practice” is an unreservedly recommended addition to college and university Library Science collections and community library staff in-service training supplemental studies reading lists.

Here’s where you can read the whole review in full, Mom.

(*Small correction to the review, if anyone cares: I’m not, as the review suggests, currently a lecturer in moral and existential philosophy at Virginia Tech – that was a past life. I’m the Instructional Design and Assessment Librarian at the University of Southern California Libraries).

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John Stuart Mill on Individuality and Conformity

In our times, from the highest class of society down to the lowest, every one lives as under the eye of a hostile and dreaded censorship. Not only in what concerns others, but in what concerns only themselves, the individual or the family do not ask themselves—what do I prefer? or, what would suit my character and disposition? or, what would allow the best and highest in me to have fair play, and enable it to grow and thrive? They ask themselves, what is suitable to my position? what is usually done by persons of my station and pecuniary circumstances? or (worse still) what is usually done by persons of a station and circumstances superior to mine? I do not mean that they choose what is customary, in preference to what suits their own inclination. It does not occur to them to have any inclination, except for what is customary. Thus the mind itself is bowed to the yoke: even in what people do for pleasure, conformity is the first thing thought of; they like in crowds; they exercise choice only among things commonly done: peculiarity of taste, eccentricity of conduct, are shunned equally with crimes: until by dint of not following their own nature, they have no nature to follow: their human capacities are withered and starved: they become incapable of any strong wishes or native pleasures, and are generally without either opinions or feelings of home growth, or properly their own. Now is this, or is it not, the desirable condition of human nature?

-John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, Chapter Three, “Of Individuality, as One of the Components of Well-Being,” 1859

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Filed under Education, On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, Quotes, The Library Game

Vulnerability in the Classroom

It is an intriguing comment on our educational system that it is assumed that only under the most dire circumstances would a professor reveal himself in any personal way […]

I have almost invariably found that the very feeling which has seemed to me most private, most personal, and hence most incomprehensible by others, has turned out to be an expression for which there is a resonance in many other people. It has led me to believe that what is most personal and unique in each one of us is probably the very element which would, if it were shared or expressed, speak most deeply to others.

-Carl Rogers, from “This is Me,” in On Becoming a Person. (pp. 3 and 26, respectively).

This chapter is a great read – full PDF available free online.

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Filed under Education, Library Instruction, On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, Quotes, The Library Game, Uncategorized

Congrats, Kevin!

Major congratulations are in order for my friend and co-blogger, Kevin Michael Klipfel, who is starting a new gig this week at USC as the Instructional Design and Assessment Librarian! A little over a year ago, Kevin and his wife moved to Los Angeles to live out their SoCal dreams, and now Kevin will be joining one of the great SoCal university libraries, and I couldn’t be more happy for him. Can’t wait to see what you do in this new position, K!

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Filed under Posts by Dani Brecher, The Library Game