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"Jell-O molds aplenty" by flyheatherfly via Flickr

Anytime I think I’ve gotten closer to defining “information literacy,” I realize how slippery this concept is. It feels a bit like sparring with a bowl of Jell-O.

Now there’s a metaphor for you. I almost said “Jell-O wrestling,” but I caught myself.

Inspired by the recent chatter among my colleagues taking a user experience research methods class this term, let’s play “personas and scenarios” for information literacy.

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“If the library were reimagined as a socially constructed artifact of our culture, it could become a laboratory for learning the ways in which we engage in knowledge construction, instead of being seen as a peculiarly organized storehouse of ready-made and infinitely reusable knowledge” (Fister, qtd. in Birmingham et al., p. 19).

We’ve talked already this semester about the shifts taking place in librarianship, especially the rise of librarian-as-educator, librarian as a partner in the creation of knowledge.

Isn’t this what we’re really talking about when we debate library spaces? We want to balance digital media labs and makerspaces that actively advertise the library as a hub of knowledge creation — and we don’t want to lose the contemplative spaces where ideas coalesce in quiet.

The readings I chose for this week on information literacy tease out the nuances in the theme of librarian-as-educator, and provide an exciting challenge for librarians and their faculty or instructor counterparts.

I would point out, though, that the quote I presented at the start of this post — which certainly feels like a modern vision for libraries to me — was written in 1995. This concept of libraries seems to float on the edges, though it is not new. I think we are moving forward, though. It is perhaps no coincidence that “Library Lab” may be the new name of an ALA-Boing Boing collaboration currently under way (exciting!).

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