Hello and welcome to Stacking Up, a blog for the "modern" librarian! The great thing about today's librarians is that we are so diverse: different ages, backgrounds, personalities, looks... this blog is here to share this diversity with ideas, insights, stories, experiences and opinions for anything and everything having to do with being a librarian!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Information Literacy: APA Citation and Format

I know, this sounds like such an exciting topic right? Well, here's the thing: I graduated from SU's library school last May and then this last October I was hired at a small satellite campus for an adult-education college for the position of "Reference & Instruction Librarian." So, I knew that "instruction" was going to be a major part of my new job, and I can remember at the interview I was asked how I felt about teaching classes. Of course, I said that I didn't mind (which I didn't, I was just kind of nervous about it). I figured that once I got the hang of it, it would be fun.

Last night I helped teach a half-hour instruction session on APA citation and formatting for student papers-- we try to make it as "riveting" as possible. APA, after all, isn't really all that fascinating, but it is something that all our students need to know for citing sources in their papers, and oftentimes to be honest, they are really horrible at it. That's not to be mean, they just don't know where to go to find the right way to cite-- I didn't know it all that well when I started using APA either. So our session went well, but I still do get pretty nerve-racked right before any instruction session, no matter how short it is, or how many times I do it. Not sure if that is something you just "get over" eventually. (As a side note, I have put together an Online Library Guide for APA that our faculty and students have found to be pretty useful-- if there are any academic librarians who need to know the same stuff.)

It has been my personal experience that library school did not prepare me at all for information literacy instruction. I don't even remember professors or others from the school recommending an elective in it- like teaching just wasn't something we needed to worry about. And I am not trying to bad-mouth my school-- Syracuse was an amazing library school and I got an awesome education there-- but I am not sure that there are many library school students who have been sufficiently trained in teaching, considering just how big a part it is of many kinds of librarian jobs.

What has been your experience? Were you offered any electives in instruction (like putting lesson plans together, learning best-practices of library instruction, doing assessments, etc)? I know we did a lot of presentations, but to be perfectly honest, there is a BIG difference between presenting something to get a good grade and actually being expected to teach a bunch of people something they need to know. I really think that library schools need to focus more on preparing their grad students for this kind of work, since it's not just school media librarians involved in teaching! I know I would've greatly benefited from a class in information literacy instruction.


  1. I wish I were a librarian, or a collage grad… for that matter; a person who listened in high school.

    Maybe then I would have a comment here.
    Either way, you make it sound interesting, and a little fun.

    Thx for sharing.

  2. I agree that library school did NOT prepare me for instruction. There wasn't a single class on it. You are completely correct, presenting something for a grade and teaching a class something they need to know is completely different. Thankfully I was a reference intern at the university library, and I had a few classes on instruction through that. Everything I learned about instruction came from the wonderful librarians in that library. However, the bulk of my learning about instruction has come on the job at my new library. I do get nervous before some classes. It really just depends on how prepared I feel for the class. I really did enjoy your blog! :)

  3. I think that's probably how most of us new librarians are getting our preparation for teaching-- jumping right in! Thank God we both had support from other librarians to show us the ropes! :)