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Inspired Information Literacy: Learning from Museum Educators to Engage Minds in Library Instruction

Guide to accompany IFLA Information Literacy Poster.

The Theory

Gurian’s provocative article, written in response to the economic downturn, encouraged an expansion of social services in museums to make them more essential: “Museums need to welcome more, share more, and control less” (83).  Several public libraries, especially, offer a broad array of social services. Memphis Public Library highlights services including job resources, legal assistance, small business resources, teen media tools, community information, and more (website pictured below) .  The challenge, should we choose to accept it, is how to incorporate this into library instruction.

Gurian, Elaine Heumann. 2010. “Museum as Soup Kitchen.” Curator: The Museum Journal 53, 1: 71-85.

Visitors or Objects?

What do we as library instructors value more, our users or resources?  Traditional bibliographic instruction often prioritizes the resource over the  learner.  Gurian discusses  school-and-museum collaboration and recommends working together to generate assignments.  

  • By working closely with instructors to mesh their objectives and our goal of transferable learning, we put the visitor ahead of the resource. 
  • Information literacy instruction may include a demonstration of a particular database, book, etc. However, the instruction should focus on ensuring that the students have opportunities to engage, interact, and construct meaning.