Reflections on class #4

We librarians like our jargon.

I mean, I think information professionals in general like it. (I have never been around more acronyms than when I started here: “Yeah, I’m going to SI to get my MSI in LIS and maybe in PI, too.”) But for some reason, librarians love making up their own jargon.

Which is why I find transliteracy an interesting term, and also why I’m glad we discussed it during class. It’s a buzzword that doesn’t really seem to have a concrete definition. I come from a background in comparative religion where people spend their entire career coming up with a definition of (a)”god,” (gods, entities…well, I’m just proving my point), but we librarians want a concrete definition because that’s who we are. I had never heard of transliteracy until a few weeks ago, and when I was doing my search, I didn’t come across it at all. (Perhaps because I was looking into public libraries?) Transliteracy, as was stated in class, is a “bucket term” and we were asked what it meant to us. I’m not certain I know what it means to me yet, to be honest. I think too broad a definition is harmful to it being useful, but too narrow of a definition threatens to make it useless as well. I think I may have to mull on it for awhile. Certainly, the profession is going to have to because no one seems to have come up with a “blanket” definition yet, and there very well may never be one. I wasn’t too sold on Sue Thomas’s definition because it’s too broad, and as we were saying, her definition just really defines communication. But it’s truly hard to put into words what the ability to distinguish what the text is saying versus what the picture is depicting actually is.

We also talked about different models of learning. I’ll be honest about Carol Kuhlthau: I never really thought very extensively about her research before, even when it was introduced in 647. This is not a good thing, because Carol Kuhlthau is about as famous as a librarian can get, and her research is pretty fascinating. But before, all I really thought was that I know in my research process I go through a variety of emotions (anxiety and triumph are basically the two), and so I always figured other people did, too. End of story. But what really stuck out to me about our discussion was at which point in the process librarians can intervene so as to have the most impact in a person’s information search process. In Stripling’s inquiry model, investigate is where we’re probably going to have the most impact, and in Kuhlthau’s model, we’re probably intervening at exploration, too. I think knowing when to intervene is important because if you, as the librarian, come in too early, you may be a detriment to the process (perhaps not…perhaps you can help the student or user narrow down a topic), but if you come in too late, the damage is already done, so to speak. I think the key time is, like Kuhlthau and Stripling suggest, when a person is researching and exploring ideas and we can help lead them in the most helpful direction as possible.

One last point that I want to bring up is that in class, someone was quoted as saying, “Even if we didn’t have libraries, we need librarians.” I think the fact that so many librarians are working outside of libraries is evidence of that;  good librarians have all sorts of great skills that can be useful outside of libraries. I don’t really have a lot to talk about on that phrase, but it just sort of illustrates to me that we’re a special breed of people and it reminds me why I’ve always wanted to be a librarian.


2 thoughts on “Reflections on class #4

  1. I think that our discussion on the place where it is best for librarians to help people in their research was beneficial in one regard, that is to say that we know when we can best help people. But I think that in the field getting to interact with people at that particular stage can be a definite challenge. Professors often bring classes to the library at the beginning of the term, before they even have an assignment to do, and expect the librarians to “teach” the class all about the library resources available to them. And of course we know that at that point, no one is really listening. They may pick up one or two things from that session to file away for later, but it’s hard to help at that stage. It would be so much better if professors would assign projects and then come to the library for help on that particular assignment.

  2. I am still lost in the UMSI jargon. LIS, PI, HCI, ARM…. referring to classes by number rather than title…. it’s so easy to get lost in the jargon. Then I find myself using it with family members… and they just look at me blankly.

    The place for librarians to best help people in their research is definitely at the start– before frustration sets in about not being able to find the answers for which one is searching. It is very hard to reach people at this stage and seems to be getting harder all the time as people move more and more often to Google and other search engines. Maybe, then, a good place to start would be requiring students to take some sort of “how to research” class that starts in the early grades (maybe even as early as kindergarten) and continues throughout a person’s academic career, with each subsequent class building on the class before it. This would also serve the purpose of getting students into the library where librarians are more able to help. A bit of a pipe dream, I am sure.

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