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Ryan P. Randall

Instruction & Outreach Librarian at the College of Western Idaho ∴ Literary, media & cultural studies ∴ Web Editor at In the Library with the Lead Pipe ∴ Sous les pavés, la plage ∴ We are, as always, stubborn, stoked, and petrified - GY!BE

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Read of the Week

As an Instruction & Outreach Librarian, one of the things I’m currently trying to do is revamp our fliers and other materials that broadcast what we can do for instructors. Our current materials were written before the ACRL Framework came out, so I’m trying to update them with a snappy, compelling, & brief description of “critical information literacy.” While I haven’t found one yet, I am quite glad that this search led me James Elmborg’s “Literacies Large and Small: the Case of Information Literacy.”

Besides packing a number of insights into few pages, I appreciate how widely this piece ranges—approaching library work in terms of knowledge practices and a librarian ethos enables the connecting of dots often held apart by title or department. He identifies a “fiduciary fallacy” along the lines of Freire’s sense of the banking model of education; he describes how the reference interview operates most felicitously when questions hew to already-established disciplines and their established ways of organizing knowledge; he links Bakhtin’s account of the roles people play in “speech genres” to a plausible explanation for library anxiety, putting the onus for change on librarians rather than unfamiliar patrons; he refers to Hope Olson’s critiques of subject classification; he calls for approaching the library’s holdings as a “library-text”; he recognizes the materiality of the library and how it makes librarianship different from many other disciplines.

I’m being somewhat breathless here, intentionally trying to convey how invigorating it felt to read something that bursts with ideas. For the moment, this is currently my favorite #critlib read and one I’d suggest to academic librarians or anyone interested in reference or information literacy.

I always appreciate when people share their processes, so reading Ryan McRae’s Ultimate ADHD Guide to Time Management made my day. Videos are low on my ladder of preferred ways of engaging, so I haven’t watched them, but the rest of the post has a lot of tips to offer. If you’re like me, different approaches to time management work according to my mood or the tasks before me, so hopefully this will help you along if you’re looking for ways to keep focused on doing what you want to accomplish.

Cecilia Gaposchkin published a nice article at the Conversation on liberal arts and STEM which reminds us that historically, many of the things now considered STEM were viewed as liberal arts. More importantly, she asserts that a “liberal arts education (STEM-based or otherwise) is not just about learning content, but about knowing how to sort through ambiguity; work with inexact or incomplete information, evaluate contexts and advance a conclusion or course of action.” Her whole article is well worth a read.


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