One of the big issues facing libraries today is making people actually use them. I recently watched this presentation by university librarians Char Booth and Brian Matthews: http://tametheweb.com/2012/06/01/understanding-the-learner-experience/. It is worth the hour of your time. However, here’s a quick summary: Booth and Matthews were talking about how libraries could integrate themselves into the curriculum and help students at the university level. Matthews focused on threshold concepts, which are key concepts that are integral to a student’s development in their chosen field. Matthews commented on the realization that different learning styles affect the paths students take; it is important for libraries to integrate themselves into the community and curriculum at points that effectively reach students. Booth presented a potential way for libraries to achieve just this. She proposed curriculum mapping, which takes tools and builds a concept map around the materials. The point of using such tools is to help libraries be liaisons and help to integrate into the university.
I found this presentation very inspiring. As a student of library sciences, one of my interests is academic libraries. One of my questions is always “how do academic libraries make themselves useful? How can we understand the students and coursework?” I think creating and using these curriculum maps is a good opportunity, for both libraries and universities. Librarians need to prove the worth of libraries and, by using the tools at our disposal, we can create things that allow us to help those in our community. Additionally, I think that this presentation made some important indirect points on learning and scholarship. I am of the opinion that Americans need to evolve our education, to encourage different perspectives and approaches. We have so many tools–we just need to use them more effectively. I think libraries can help with those goals, and I saw suggestions to accomplish those goals in this presentation.