Breakfast of Librarians

I feel guilty that I haven’t posted in a while. Weekly deadlines for Library Journal columns have kept me hopping. I should take notes on how Steven Bell manages his deadlines. He’s the ultimate kept-up librarian.

But I thought I’d share something fun we’ve been doing this spring at my library – we started a journal club. A couple of times a month, we gather for breakfast in the college cafeteria on a Friday morning to discuss a common reading chosen by one of us. These include preprints of College and Research Libraries articles, articles from Communications in Information Literacy, or (most recently) the Taiga Provocative Statements coupled with the Darien Statements.

We’ve been joined by an intern, who brings a fresh perspective from a student who is about to go to library school but is still close to the undergraduate experience. (Maura, we’ll miss you when your internship is over!) We also have recently-hatched MLS who has a sharp mind and has been an excellent sabbatical replacement. (Anyone looking for a top-notch young librarian? Let me know.)

These have been such fun conversations, and they have been productive, too. Out of one of these informal get-togethers, we come up with a plan to hire and train some peer tutors to work at the reference desk between ten pm and midnight. Because we’ve had a lot of interest from students in doing internships, and we have a good example of peer tutoring in our Writing Center, we think we adapt some of our materials for interns into training, and provide some reference service at a time when the librarians are ready to call it a night but our students are finally getting a stretch of time when they can concentrate on their research.

Our journal club has proven to be a low-stakes, simple, and fun way to do a bit of professional development. Are there things you do at your library to foster good discussions among the librarians or share new ideas? Do tell.

(photo courtesy of arvindgrover)

Author: Barbara Fister

I'm an academic librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Like all librarians at our small, liberal arts institution I am involved in reference, collection development, and shared management of the library. My area of specialization is instruction, with research interests also in media literacy, popular literacy, publishing, and assessment.

3 thoughts on “Breakfast of Librarians”

  1. We took a leaf from the Intentional Teacher track of Immersion and started doing Jigsaws (a fancy name for basically what you’ve described, minus the breakfast time slot). Once a month one of us starts a discussion on an article that they’ve read; they usually provide a one-sheet summary with leading questions. The only requirements are that the topic be instruction-related and that the article be based on actual research (qualitative, quantitative, or both), not a “how-I-run-my-library-good” article. Response has been very positive. We like being able to have a meeting to just talk about what we do!

  2. We don’t do breakfast but we do lunch. We have the First Friday Lunch, and although the talk is usually more personal than professional there is usually some discussion about a conference session someone attended (we’ll probably hear from folks who went to CIL). With respect to sharing ideas from the literature, that’s more likely to happen via email. But I agree that taking time to discuss the professional literature with colleagues is a great idea and a real stimulus for innovation in the library. Now back to meeting some sort of deadline for something.

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