Sunday, November 9, 2008

Turning Passive to Active

Leaves: no longer on the trees

Continuing what I started a few weeks ago (different types of computer users), I've been worrying that librarians end up investing most of their energy into group #1 -- the group least comfortable with computers. What I originally wrote was oversimplified, though, because I failed to include motivation as a variable, so I'm going to take that on now.  

The thing is, students seem to find the motivation to approach and solve all kinds of other problems, but I sense that when it comes to using the library for school work, they are less inspired. Obviously I'm not accusing students of laziness, but I do wonder why librarians have to baby students by teaching information literacy when they should be equipped to learn its lessons independently. I wonder if this has to do with passive (those who want to be told what to do) versus active (those who will try and discover solutions independently) students, and I wonder why the library must spend so much attention on the passive ones rather than making advanced tools and assistance for the active ones. (In truth we do both things, but it seems like more time is spent on the passives.) It probably has to do with the fact that we interact more with the passives -- we interact most frequently with students who approach us needing basic assistance. 

There may be no solution to this -- there may be no way to convert passives into actives -- but I hate to think so. The question becomes, how do we continue to serve the actives while also serving the passives by pushing them toward becoming more active? Luckily this is not a job for librarians alone. I hope to develop an extensive bag of tricks in the coming years. I'll report back here! 

Also, I posted to ACRLog this past week, so please read & comment!

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