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'Neurons' by MikeBlogs via Flickr

What’s the best balance between insider status and outsider status for librarians in academia?

The In the Library with the Lead Pipe article I mentioned in my last post points out how librarians in academia can benefit from their position on the periphery of a discipline, and I agree that one of librarianship’s strengths is the ability to serve as a connector between and among disciplines. On an interpersonal level, librarians can take on the mantle of tutor when working with students who need a coach or a guide, not another teacher to report to.

This week’s class discussion on embedded librarianship dovetailed with another conversation I had this week regarding online reference and librarians’ duty to “go where the user is.”

So, I’m struck by these twin poles: Do we (always) go where the user is, right down to an office in the user’s home department? Or do we maintain enough distance to provide perspective?
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"Laboratory" by tk-link via Flickr

As students practice inquiry-based learning, they are also learning to enter into the discourse of a new discipline. They learn to think like a scientist, or like a mathematician, or like a historian, as we read in this week’s chapter from How People Learn (2000). This book never ceases to thrill me with engaging snapshots of classrooms where teachers lead these forays into a new epistemology.

Yet the book’s emphasis on pedagogical content knowledge (p. 155) has me wondering what that looks like for librarians who teach.

In short, do we also want students to “think like a librarian” as they learn information literacy skills and dispositions? Why do I feel reluctant as I type that? Why does this phrase not carry the same cachet as learning to “think like a scientist”?

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