Friday, January 16, 2015

My task list vs. my job

One of the great questions of philosophy is the relationship between the one and the many. This is also the conflict between the universal and the particular. This has real practical importance in how you understand life.
Every day I go into work and perform a set of tasks. These include turning on the lights, checking in books, switching the server tape back-up, sending reminder emails, and requesting and supplying interlibrary loan. I can add more to this task list, but the task list is not my job.
Instead, my job is to help fulfill the mission of the library through circulation services. The Library’s mission is to instruct, facilitate, and mentor individuals to develop personal learning environments, find and evaluate information they need to thrive, and empower themselves to be lifelong learners. This mission provides information literacy instruction. Information literacy is my job, as a component of theological education and spiritual formation. Information literacy provides the ability to move from a lack of knowledge to competency to express previously unknown knowledge or skills to others.
Everything I do should relate back to telos, the goal, not merely checking items of a list. There are four components of information literacy according to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). This organization defines information literacy as:
A spectrum of abilities, practices, and habits of mind that extends and deepens learning through engagement with the information ecosystem. It includes
·         understanding essential concepts about that ecosystem;
·         engaging in creative inquiry and critical reflection to develop questions and to find, evaluate, and manage information through an iterative process;
·         creating new knowledge through ethical participation in communities of learning, scholarship, and civic purpose; and
·         adopting a strategic view of the interests, biases, and assumptions present in the information ecosystem.  
I will come back to information literacy in another post, but it is easy to confuse a task list with a job. When the task is separated from the job, the task becomes irrelevant. The task list can easily appear to be the job. The particulars can envelop and obscure the universal.

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