Friday, August 27, 2004

Learning-Centered Libraries: Implications from Research. This is by Barbara K. Stripling, Director of Library Power. It appeared in School Library Media Quarterly, (SLMQ), Volume 23, Number 3, Spring 1995.

From the site:

How many research studies on school library media centers does it take to influence practice? Researchers in this field do not generalize about practice from a single study, nor probably even two or three studies. Practicing library media specialists do not have the time to translate research findings into daily, in-the-trenches librarianship and then to share results with the field. But outstanding research is being published, and school library media specialists have an obligation to rethink library programs based on the findings of these studies.

One such research study is the dissertation of Judy M. Pitts, titled Personal Understandings and Mental Models of Information: A Qualitative Study of factors Associated with the Information Seeking and Use of Adolescents.(1) As a researcher, Judy Pitts would not have generalized from her study to suggest broad implications for practice. A library media specialist, however, has the freedom to interpret research findings, translate them into changes in a library program, implement the changes, assess the results, and modify the program as needed. This article offers both interpretation and translation of Judy Pitts' work.

The implications for practice from her dissertation touch many facets of the library media center program, but most specifically the instructional program. The overarching implication is that library programs must be based around learning, not around libraries. One small example from the dissertation demonstrates the effect of making library media programs learning-centered. Judy Pitts discovered that students (and teachers) often had a mental model about finding information in magazines that led them to pull bound volumes of right-sounding magazines from the shelf and browse the tables of contents to find relevant articles. If we want students to be able to use magazines in their information search, and if we recognize their mental model, we will have to overcome our library definition of indexes as reference books and move the indexes and instructions for use into the physical path of magazine access.

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