I facilitate three sections of an information literacy class for a local career college. I have been doing this for a year now. The curriculum is pretty set in stone — my time as a facilitator is spent helping explain the concepts the best I can in an asynchronous online classroom environment, grading students’ work, and filing reports. Today I was asked why I ever got into this. It was an interesting question considering the source (my new boss).
I like helping people find information. I really do. I don’t care if it is someone’s next great mystery novel or a teenager’s five required sources for their research paper. It is fun to get to peek into people’s lives and help them along in their pursuit of information. This class is sort of like 60 reference transactions spread out over the course of 12 weeks. As a librarian I rarely ever just look up a book that is requested and hand over a slip of paper with a call number on it. It is an ongoing quest to question the patron to find out exactly what it is they are wanting to find out, what restrictions are present on the format of the information that they require, how much time do they have to get the item in, and so forth. When I turn to the computer to start digging for the answers, I explain what I am doing with the hopes of teaching the patron how the information is being sought so they could maybe do it themselves the next time or at the very least feel confident in the results that we come up with.
Teaching college students how to find, evaluate, and cite sources is pretty much exactly the same experience. It has been rewarding. While I might have applied for the job initially based on needing some extra cash, it has become something I enjoy. Some students hate the class, no matter how hard I try to reach out. But… there are a few each quarter who really “get” it and are the better for having learned the skills I had beat them over the head with all quarter long.
I am hopeful that with each new technique that I implement each quarter that I increase that number who appreciate and push themselves to learn just a bit more and get all they can out of this class and the opportunities it holds.