Venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki authors the blog Signum Sine Tinnitu, a popular blog that often delivers good ideas and solid advice. He has some great tip lists on things like schmoozing and presenting with PowerPoint. Just recently he offered some interesting advice for students in a post titled “Ten Things to Learn This School Year“. The essence of the post is advice for workplace survival, from how to communicate with the boss to surviving meetings to explaining things in 30 seconds. It’s an interesting set of skills, none of which are really taught in our institutions but are valuable for workplace success.
Kawasaki lists one skill in particular that struck me as one that the academic library should be teaching students. Number four on his list is “how to figure out anything on your own”. I think that many of us are making an effort to teach students to research independently, as well as how to effectivey evaluate information that they find. Here Kawasaki says “armed with Google” students need to force themselves how to learn to figure out anything. Being able to find information independently is great, but it can also be a huge time waster when it’s done poorly. Kawasaki says “There are no office hours, no teaching assistants, and study groups in the real world”. Unfortunately, he doesn’t point out that there are libraries and librarians, some providing special research resources for alumni, out there waiting to help. We should help our students develop the independent search skills that will enable them to figure out anything on their own – but they should also understand that there are times when doing so will cost more time than it is worth. Our students also need to know when it makes good sense to consult a professional.