The Library Instruction Cookbook

The Library Instruction Cookbook by Ryan L. Sittler and Douglas Cook.

I had a really hard time getting into this book because the format makes it so difficult to take it seriously.  They took the cookbook analogy way too far in my opinion.  Every lesson plan as a part of a meal?  Each lesson is formatted as a recipe complete with:

  • nutritional information (learning goals)
  • cooking time (length of session)
  • ACRL information dietary standards addressed (was it really necessary to change literacy to dietary?)
  • Main cooking technique (type of session, i.e. group activity, independent work, etc.)
  • Main ingredients (what you need to complete the class, i.e. classroom with projector, PPT, handouts, etc.)
  • Preparation
  • Allergy warnings (challenges)
  • Chef’s note (anecdotal info from the librarian)

While going through the book I kept thinking about how libraries try too hard to be cool.  There is way too much talk about the image of librarians, how we are portrayed in the media, stereotypes, etc., and it really just pisses me off.  Focus on what’s really important – your actual job.  I asked RJJ if scientists ever get together to talk about the perception of scientists in the greater world; his response?  “Uh, no.”  Do scientists at conferences have “wardrobe discussions” or fashion shows?  “What?”  Exactly.  Scientists are too busy saving the world to care about what other people think about them.   Yes, it’s a shame that most people in the world don’t understand what it means to be a librarian in the 21st century, but librarians are just trying too hard.

I digress.

While the format of each lesson plan was silly, it did lay out each format in a very organized, easy to understand way.  In general, I found that many of the activities were inappropriate for college students, and that again, librarians are trying too hard to be cool.  But there were some good ideas in there.

I particularly liked “The Coffee Can Appetizer,” which helps students visually understand the difference between Google and library databases.  Google was represented by a trash can, and databases as coffee cans.  It’s an interesting idea that I might manipulate to work with the VCU Library Search, databases, Google, and Google Scholar.


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