I spent the Friday afternoon of my ALA Annual trip to Las Vegas last weekend at Inquiry Summit II, an event hosted by ABC-CLIO and facilitated by Senior Acquisitions Editor at Libraries Unlimited, Sharon Coatney. This was an afternoon of questions, discussions, and careful thinking about inquiry in libraries and school communities.
The first Inquiry Summit was held two years ago prior to ALA Annual in Anaheim in June of 2012. As Sharon Coatney wrote of the first Summit,
“The importance of inquiry in education cannot be emphasized too much. With the push for 21st-century learning skills and the advent of the Commons Core State Standards (CCSS), students must know how to learn and how to think. And, teachers and school librarians are being asked to integrate an inquiry approach into their teaching, which has not always been included in educational training or previous teaching experience. Because of this, school librarians have a unique opportunity to become the ‘go to’ person in the school and help educators learn how to integrate instruction and change the culture of the school.”
(In “Zeroing in on Inquiry” by Sharon Coatney, School Library Monthly 29, no. 4, 2012, page 6)
The Summit, like a good inquiry experience, offered not only new information but new questions. This is the first of a few blog posts that I’m happy to share about the Summit.
This year’s Summit began with the question, “why are you here?” — a question that I thought might frame an information search in the library, too! (Can you envision some questions along this line of thinking? Maybe– why am I here, sitting in front of this library computer/search engine/database/iPad/bookcase? What am I looking for? What am I trying to accomplish in this moment, and how does it fit into my bigger inquiry process?)
Many of the participants’ responses about why they were there shared a theme of lifelong learning and a desire to know inquiry more deeply. This was my reason: I teach inquiry to graduate students and pre-service librarians, and I need to (and want to) build my understanding of the complexities of facilitating inquiry.
One attendee’s especially memorable reason for attending was to keep working on ways to “be a part of kids’ heads when they are not with us.” I liked this phrase. I’d say that instilling inquiry habits and dispositions that students call upon regularly, beyond a particular research task or experience, is a competency of the most effective school librarians. The opportunities for information decisions happen all the time when they’re not with us, across nearly countless spaces and formats.
Our next task at the Summit was to rotate around three question tables with a small group of colleagues. I’ll share our questions and discussions that I shared with colleagues at the Summit in my next post!
The attendees included school librarians and former school librarians, university faculty, school library supervisors, and ABC-CLIO/Libraries Unlimited staff. Please see the full list of attendees and read more about the Inquiry Summit at the Building a Culture of Collaboration blog, pictured below.