Learning to Learn: The Librarian’s Charge


Amidst unprecedented technological change, library staff are faced with an uncertain future but a landscaped filled with rich opportunities. One response has been a focus on continuing education and current awareness programs related to these shifts. Faced with these evolutionary transitions in research and learning, Library and Information Science professionals, are seeking new ways to quickly expand their own knowledge and expertise. LIS professional development (PD) environments such as Learning 2.0, 23 Mobile Things, and their many global adaptations indicate an increased desire for expanding knowledge and skills. Research by the author on the two learning programs yielded positive results: via surveys with program participants in Australia, Denmark and the United States,  findings offer evidence that  these participatory PD programs have a positive effect on participants and their confidence and ability to use technology within their professional and personal lives. (Stephens, 2013, 2014) Via these programs, librarians have discovered that their own learning can be playful, self-directed and connected.

A program based in Ireland brings many of the trends and technologies identified above together for an all-inclusive learning experience. Rudaí 23 (2015) is a self-directed, online course for information professionals created by members of the Western Regional Section of the Library Association of Ireland. This program emphasizes technological trends and also  includes weeks devoted to reflective practice.

The emphasis on reflective practice points back the the human-centered approach of the hyperlinked library model. Booth (2011) emphasizes this concept, also called “reflective action” as a soft skill librarians should utilize as continuous learners and teachers. The attitudes of reflective action highlighted in an article by Grant and Zeichner (1984) include open-­mindedness, responsibility, and wholeheartedness. Approaching the technological changes outlined above with open-mindedness means librarians are “all in” all of the time, not just when convenient, taking responsibility for decisions and changes to services, sometimes bucking the status quo to do the right thing at the right moment. It also means owning our actions as professionals. A whole-hearted approach solidifies the humanist aspects of what one might call the “Hyperlinked Librarian:” simply: the heart guides change.

Looking to the Future

In A New Culture of Learning, Thomas and Brown write, “Where imaginations play, learning happens” (p. 118). Concepts such as play, peer to peer collaboration, and learning by exploring should define library services for now and in the future. Intelligence, user-sensitive planning, and insights from research will guide the creation and implementation of physical and virtual library spaces that function as creative and playful environments. Unprecedented and exponential new technological capabilities are allowing people to connect socially and this has changed how people can learn. Libraries can be the integrating place hyperlinking learning where these interactions can be facilitated.



Booth, C. (2011), Reflective teaching, effective learning: Instructional literacy for library   educators, American Library Association, Chicago, IL.

Grant, C.A., & Zeichner, K.M. (1984), On becoming a reflective teacher. Preparing for    reflective teaching. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Rudaí 23 2015, Available from: http://rudai23.blogspot.ie (accessed October 27, 2015).

Shirky, C. (2010), Cognitive surplus: creativity and generosity in a connected age. New York, Penguin Press.

Stephens, M. (2013), “Exemplary practice for Learning 2.0”, Reference & User Services Quarterly, Vol. 53 No. 2, pp. 129-139.

Stephens, M. (2014), “23 Mobile Things: self-directed and effective professional learning,” Library Management, Vol. 35 Iss: 8/9, pp.582 – 593.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011),  A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a  world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.


Post new comment