Bibliographic Instruction is Not a Home Run Derby

From the Pegasus Librarian:

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, though, it’s been that I am not there to teach the students how to find, evaluate, and use information. I tried that with a couple of courses, and it failed. Miserably.

No, I’m there to do two things: to give the students a couple of skills they need right now, and to spark their imaginations about what could be possible if they decided to make a habit of this research stuff.

To go into another metaphor for what Iris has written, bibliographic instruction is not a home run derby. It’s not a matter of trying to get everything in one swing. You just want to get the person on base and tell them how they are in scoring position. It’s not your one and only chance to reach people, but it is the first chance to tell them about what you have to offer. Time is limited, so pick the basics and give them a preview of what else is out there. Leave the door open for those who want to know more about what else they can learn.

As the old showbiz adage goes, “Always leave them wanting more.” With bibliographic instruction, the same entertainment advice holds true.

3 thoughts on “Bibliographic Instruction is Not a Home Run Derby

  1. Back in undergrad, I saw my BI goals as such:

    1) Show them something REALLY COOL that they never would have found on their own. In my BI sessions in Michigan, I was teaching people who were not university students, so they all got a kick out of the Michigan E-Library’s free database access from home with their driver’s license numbers. Do your research from home! Wowza!

    2) Repeat, as many times as possible: REFERENCE LIBRARIANS ARE YOUR FRIEND! THEY GET PAID TO SIT AROUND AND WAIT FOR YOU TO ASK QUESTIONS! They will answer the phone, answer your chats, talk to you for an hour with an appointment, wash your car, take your dog to the vet, they will willingly repeat everything I just told you that when you inevitably forget tomorrow afternoon, etc etc.

    I think my philosophy still holds.

    • At the end of my mini-BI sessions, I will always encourage people to take one of our calendars. Not because it has our events on it, but because it has our phone number and hours on it. Depending on the situation, I might comment on the content of the calendar and maybe chat up a few things. But I always say they can call us for what they need. That just makes sense.

      I do like the “wow” factor and try to capitalize on patrons when they are impressed. I try to leave it in a state that they would give us a call or visit because they might be surprised if we can do something else on their behalf.

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