Monday, November 8, 2010

Using media center skills in the public library

In my library courses, I am focusing on school library courses as much as possible.  I have taken courses that were not (Public Library; Youth Services in Libraries; Intellectual Freedom) but this semester I'm taking Reference (with school librarians and those seeking school library certification) and Librarianship in School Communities (as well as an IT course).  But I'm working in a public library, and finding that what I'm doing is interesting but not wholly transferable to the public library environment.

But with that said, I've been thinking what I'm learning could transfer to the public library with a little creativity.  This weekend, I've had three students ask for help finding sources for a school project about the history of our city.  My default response is to answer the question - we need to go upstairs to look at the local history section - but couldn't I take this as a teaching opportunity?  I could say, "What sort of resources were you thinking of?"  "What do you think would be the best type of resources for this project?"  "Where else are you going to look for information?"  I'm learning about the Big 6 information model, and there's a lot there I could implement in a situation like this.

 I guess I do a little bit of this already through the reference interview (the task definition), but I think I could do it a bit more formally.  When I don't ask the patron (child or adult) to do that part - define the information problem; identify information needed - I may misunderstand what is needed and waste time and effort.  But the second part of the Big 6 - determining all possible sources and selecting the best sources - I should lead the patron to this without doing it for her.  And I could ask the patron what other sources in town are they going to - the city government's website, the city history museum, etc.  Then my job in the public library is #3 - location and providing access - and that leaves them with #4, #5, and #6.  But I could remind them of those before they go.

I wonder if it would be apropos to suggest we make up a little bookmark with the Big 6 method to give to student patrons when they come looking for guidance?  Is the whole thing copyrighted and you can't call it those things if you don't pay the licensing fee?

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