Untangling the World of Books, Technology, and Instruction

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Too Big to Know


In Response to the book: Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room is the Room by David Weinberger

As a new librarian, I struggle some days with what exactly I call myself and where do I fit – librarian, teacher librarian, media specialist, technology integrationist. After reading Too Big to Know, I have a better sense of what my focus should be.  The author discusses the concept of information and knowledge with regard our digital society. We have an overload of information from the Internet and other digital resources.  Alone, information means little, however, if we are able to take information and create knowledge, we have also found learning.  Information itself leads only to a low level of thought (Bloom’s Taxonomy). By creating knowledge from information, we move up the Bloom’s pyramid to authentic learning.  I learned that there is a huge difference between information and knowledge, and librarian’s can be the guide through the murky waters. This also fits with the concept of transitioning students from consumers of information to creating information of their own. It is also central to understanding who we are, how we got here, and what comes next. 
Too Big to Know impacts library service by guiding librarians in supporting patrons in their own information endeavors.  According to the author, libraries are blazing trails in information access, use, and transformation to knowledge.  We need to be able to discern what is good information and what is useless and guide our patrons in the same process.  The internet is a massive collaborative space where anyone can contribute.  This creates a problem with the accuracy and reliability of what we find.  We first have to determine what is useful, what is to be believed, and what is discarded.  I know my students do not always understand this concept. They do believe if it is on the internet, it must be true. 
Librarians have always been leaders in the information process. Today, we have found ourselves not only guiding patrons through the information deluge but supporting them in the climb from data and information to knowledge and wisdom.  Finally, my favorite passage from the book follows. “There’s obviously plenty of data in the world, but not a lot of wisdom” (Location 159). As a librarian, I hope I am guiding those who I serve toward wisdom. 

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