Thursday, 28 October 2010

Librarian as Teacher: moment of revelation

So, I'm a bit slow on the uptake sometimes. It's nothing to be ashamed of (I tell myself): we all have our blind spots and occasionally take a while to cotton on to the most obvious of things. I've heard a lot about the Librarians as Teachers network over the last few months, and each time it came up I've thought, 'What a lovely thing. A shame it's not relevant to me'.
I've had a lightbulb moment... (Photo from morgueFile)

Not relevant, eh? I spent Tuesday running and helping to staff a public exhibition of literary rare books and manuscripts in the College Old Library. I spent the day answering questions about manuscript production, palaeography, language change, the book as object, architectural history, and so on, and so on, and so on. In the past I've run sessions at which families learned how to build their own model astrolabe. I've shown school groups a copy of Kepler's diagram of the heliocentric solar system and talked to them about cosmological theories.

Not relevant?

I don't know what I was thinking: I do library outreach for a living. If I worked in a museum, it would be called 'education', not 'outreach'. Maybe I'd have got the message more quickly then. It's not necessarily the 'teaching' that you might first think of a librarian doing: information literacy rarely features on my 'curriculum', but it's certainly teaching of a kind.

I've joined now. Better late than never, eh?


  1. Of course it's relevant - I think there's a problem with the assumption that librarian as teacher = information literacy tutor. Most library posts I've held/seen have involved teaching, some more than others of course. Welcome to the network!

  2. Thanks Niamh. I really can't work out why I didn't twig earlier, given that at least one of the advertised posts that I was interested over the summer actually wanted a teaching qualification. I suppose it's probably because I'm pretty clear that I don't want any involvement with traditional school classroom teaching (see previous conversations about what to do with a music degree...), and those views have tainted all my opinions about teaching. D'oh!

  3. Hi Katie
    There has been a big discussion in the school library world on librarian as teacher. In both US and Australia you need a teaching qualification as well as a library one to work in schools. It may eventually come here. I have done courses on teaching skills that have been very useful when doing library lessons.