Thursday, January 08, 2009

creativity in libraries, 3

All this is about 'creativity in learning in libraries', really.
But we've got some handicaps, from the start.

Library systems aren't built for wandering; libraries happen to be brilliant places to wander and bumble and bump into unexpected things -- but the systems of organization were not designed for wandering.  They were designed to minimize the need for wandering.  They were designed to move seeker to sought with zero wander betwixt seeking and finding.

Now our digital aides (and content) have inherited this interest in decrease wander.  Catalogs online, databases, these are built on the notion that the seeker knows what he's seeking.  Sure.  Helping people get to the info is the goal.  Libraries (well, good libraries) aren't antagonistic to wandering -- but if they were designed for it, there'd be no classificatory systems at all.  So.

We've got a heritage of 'get to business' here.  That's useful.  How, now, do we introduce the elements necessary to make folks feel like they can turn up and bumble without getting barked at by a crab (old, punk, or other)?  Mixed metaphor there, but.

You know -- welcome to the library, come in, ask questions if you want -- we don't care if you put the book down in the wrong place.  We don't care if you fall asleep reading.  We don't care if you write on the tables. (crabs note: these are simplified ex. of shift in attitude, not suggestions for policy.  and they're questions.  they're wonders.)  I wonder -- there's a 58 year old HVAC repairman in looking up info on 9/11 because his damn cousin was rattling off a bunch of hockey she heard on the Alex Jones show, and he wants to get some newspaper articles to prove her wrong... I wonder how to make a space that visibly and immediatley demonstrates it's okay to sit down and start TRYING THINGS OUT b/c he's not going to BREAK ANYTHING.


and then: how to bring such ambient cues to the direct and pointed activities of bibliographic instruction...

1 comment:

Spencer Smith said...

I think you are leaving out a major aspect of classification systems (as used in libraries). They take into account wandering. Co-location is a major aspect of successful classification systems and libraries that use them. They make, after the searcher thinks they've got the answer they are looking for, the searcher see other materials on the topic. I think browsing is something that is inherent in libraries and learning.

I was thinking about this and instruction, and the first thing that's come into my head is this:

The instructor would have to send the learner after an answer, but only after pointing him to a resource that doesn't actually hold said answer, but is close- forcing them to browse and search.

I know this is beside the point, and I can already hear the complaining. "This book doesn't say!"

Oh well.