The authors point out the need to reevaluate traditional library instruction, and they encourage an interface between classroom faculty and librarians that is closer than an invitation to do the occasional course-related guest lecture. In a sense, this book is preaching to the choir if it is read only by individuals in our profession. Given the chronic insufficiencies of professional staffing and budgets in most academic libraries, the level of curriculum involvement that the authors encourage, with the time and resources such involvement would require, may seem unrealistic to some librarians. How can academic librarians best facilitate this learning process? Why should college administrators and classroom faculty include librarians as part of the learning facilitation team? In, future Teaching Roles for Academic Librarians, Editor Alice Harrison Bahr has found three academic librarians and three nonlibrarians involved in higher education to describe rationales and practical suggestions for addressing these issues. The emphasis is on old-fashioned, face-to-face interaction between faculty, librarians, and students as partners in learning. Indeed, Arizona State University Professor Howard L. Simmons spends a good portion of his chapter, Librarian as Teacher: A Personal View, reminiscing about librarian mentors during his own high school and college years, demonstrating the positive influence those in our profession can have on.
As librarians active in user education struggle to keep up with ever-changing information about retrieval techniques and technology that must be taught to students, it may be difficult to remember that instilling these skills is not our ultimate goal. Technology and techniques are not ends in themselves but simply media for information. What students must learn goes deeper than finding information: they must acquire and assimilate knowledge to use in their personal and professional lives and learn how to make their own unique contributions for expanding and improving their fields.
Here and there in many of the chapters, there is a sense that these authors are not dazzled by the possibilities of the virtual library. The advent of the paperless library is acknowledged, but there are warnings about the dangers of emphasizing technology and delivery over content and knowledge.