Higher education, at its best, not only prepares individuals for advanced research and occupational / professional success, it also provides a strong foundation for self-realization and a lifelong love of learning. My teaching philosophy is framed by a pedagogical model based on the ideas of John Dewey and Maxine Greene. As adult learners, higher education students thrive when they are provided with opportunities to discover ideas and information through inquiry-based curricula. What begins with a curiosity, piqued through introductory knowledge and study, can become an intensely focused, intrinsically motivated investigation. This type of learning depends on excellence in both teaching and information services, responsibilities shared by teaching faculty and library professionals.
I am very interested in the notion of engagement with information and resources as a fuel for intrinsic motivation and discovery. I have witnessed the wide-awakeness—the “aha! moment”—that students and workshop participants experience when something that has sparked their curiosity comes into contact with some particular idea or bit of information gleaned from a book, an article, a sentence, an image, or even something a colleague has discovered and shared. Such moments become the catalysts for expanded curiosity as new realizations alter the course of, or prompt new, lines of inquiry.
Within an institutional culture that endeavors to set the stage for student success, and in collaboration with an excellent teaching faculty, library professionals may serve several roles in effective learning. Librarians select, acquire, and provide access to resources that are of high quality, varied, relevant, and interesting. These standards hold true for both traditional and electronic resources, whether purchased, licensed, or freely available. Librarians provide reference services and instruction that are not merely excellent—they effectively nurture users’ processes of inquiry. Librarians can become careful curators of information, providing a range of resources and information that will allow adult learners the means to find and follow their own interests. And, finally, librarians also take on the role of explorer, following trends in education, resources, and technology, and working with colleagues to plan the library’s and the institution’s future.