Why Libraries?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked why I want to be a librarian. Why would you want to do that? Who even goes to the library any more?  And for a long time I would honestly tell people to picture Google with no search bar. How would you find what you needed? Would you just wonder around Google.com hoping you stubble across the information you needed? What do you do if you’re not clear on what you need to know? Someone needs to organize and keep track of all the information so that you (users) could find the information you needed. Someone needs to help you focus your search and help you find information that meaningful to your need. Those people are librarians.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend class this week ( although I’m sure the discussions were great), but the readings and videos assigned are very interesting. This blog would be ridiculously long if I tried to share my thoughts on everything, so I’m just going to focus on the text readings from  How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. 

I took this quote from the first chapter because it really stood out to me:

 “As Nobel laureate Herbert Simon wisely stated, the meaning of “knowing” has shifted from being able to remember and repeat information to being able to find and use it (Simon, 1996).”

This quote really explains why most people don’t understand why libraries are important, but it also explains why librarians are so important. Most people thing that the internet has made all information easily accessible; in some ways this is true because people aren’t going the library anymore for “reference-ready” information like census facts or information on a  person. Those are quite simple to look up on Google. However simply being able to find information isn’t enough, you also need to know how to use it; and this is where librarian trump Google every time. Merely clicking links isn’t the same as having someone who can assist you in understanding the information and how to make connection between different pieces of information.

It’s similar to reading the text for a class verse actually going to class. Yes you will understand the readings but you wouldn’t get the depth of the information without the professor and classmates to help you make connections. Majority of courses just require the student to memorize and restate facts. Which is not very effective. With the current way people find information, there’s less emphasis on memorizing information because they know its regularly available on the information; but what good is knowing where to find it if it has to real meaning to you?

One thing that really captured me in chapter one was the concept of metacognition. Metacognition refers to the process of assessing ones abilities and making prediction on how well they will understand things

“Teaching practices congruent with a metacognitive approach to learning include those that focus on sense-making, self-assessment, and reflection on what worked and what needs improving.”

The book Fish is Fish is a good way to help people understand that their perception and past shape how they understand new information. How you understand something new relies heavily on what you already know and how you process new information.

“Since understanding is viewed as important, people must learn to recognize when they understand and when they need more information.”

This is a new concept to me but I find it extremely interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever taken to time to trace how I came to understand something and when I knew I had understood. How do you really know when you’ve gone from a novice to an expert? Experts have acquired a great deal of knowledge about a subject and they understand and notice things that a novice to the subject may not. However I think its interesting to look at people who are considered experts in information and technology, because to me these fields are changing so rapidly how could one person keep up with it all.

For example, the analogy of a Chess master who has studies Chess so well that they can quickly make meaningful patterns and understand the other players tactics. That’s logical for a game that has set rules. But imagine if someone decided to change the rules, add a new chess piece or an extra row to the board. What then? While the chess masters knowledge is still meaningful, it nothing if they aren’t flexible enough to accept the new rules and adapt.

Last semester in a programming course I took, there were several times when the professor would get stumped by a student question. Not because that professor isn’t skilled or knowledgeable but because sometime a novice may notice or question things in a way that the expert may not. That’s what I think makes information science such an appealing field, there always a different way you could try to understand or present a piece of information. It’s difficult at times to try to understand how or why we learn things the way we do. Its easier to just tackle a task in the form it was given to you. But I think if I took the time to analyze how I understand the task and ways to solve it, I’d spend less time stressing out. I will definitely strive towards being an adaptive expert in the LIS field from now on, using what I know and paying closer attention to ways to learn and teach new things effectively.

Till next week…. SHHH!

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2 comments

  1. I really like what you picked up from the readings, especially when you were comparing expert and novice thought processes. I completely agree that experts might start to forget what it was like to be a novice and so won’t see things the same way. I really liked the idea of the “accomplished novice” in that they have some of the expert thought processes in place and yet they still remember what it was like to be starting out and trying to understand new concepts. For me as a future educator, it’s crucial for me to focus on how a newbie might understand and interpret information and how I can help to make sure they make a complete understanding. And the mental flexibility or new perspectives of novices that you were writing about is really important too; new blood is how a field can be revitalized. I’m hoping that this is what we as new librarians can be, by bringing in a different view of the world to a profession that is undergoing major changes.

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