You see, I don’t believe that libraries should be drab places where people sit in silence, and that’s been the main reason for our policy of employing wild animals as librarians.
— John Cleese (Chairman), “Gorilla Librarian”, Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Education should be a preparation for life. Our culture has not been very successful.
— A.S. Neil
Academic librarians should be examples of intellectual curiosity. This curiosity can only be fostered in an environment where not knowing the answer is normal. As college students encounter complex challenges, their comfort with developing and testing multiple solutions must be encouraged. Successful people don’t know everything; they know who to ask, where to look and what to do with the information they gather. Instruction librarians have the powerful opportunity to be wrong along side the students and end the class with confident and engaged students who know how to figure it out, not just what the answer should be.
Library instruction, no matter what specific subject is being taught, should always apply to more than one assignment, course, or subject and be an example of collaborative work and valuable input to academic discourse or the community at large. It should teach students the skills needed to asses the root of a problem, to figure out what steps are needed to solve it and to figure out what resources to use along the way. Library instruction can show students how to be self-reliant and independent adults, how to engage in the world around them and how to be citizens of a more thoughtful future.