During my undergraduate experience at Humboldt State University, I was a shamefully—especially for being an English major—infrequent user of the Library. In the moment, I attributed my lack of time spent at the Library to (1) minimal free time outside of my full-time schedule of classes and part-time job at a local coffee shop, and (2) not having a library card because there wasn’t an option to have student ID pictures taken on campus. Now, however, when reflecting I see a much different reason: the absence of services that are relevant and/or engaging to students who are seeking to learn life skills outside academia’s ivory tower of quintessential library services. I didn’t feel the need to attend SkillShops for research-related needs or resume writing help, and, honestly, didn’t think much more about the Library—or why I spent so little time there as an English major—after discovering the limited services which were available.
It wasn’t until after viewing, “Infinite Learning: Learning Everywhere,” that it all became clear: the HSU Library is in dire need of services that are geared towards life literacies—not just information literacies or digital literacies (Stephens, 2020). Despite being an academic library with a relatively small budget, especially in comparison to its sister CSU campuses with higher enrollments, the HSU Library has the potential—and most importantly of all, the community—to create services that will support students beyond their scholarly endeavors. The implementation of services that promote life literacies will provide students with additional opportunities to learn skills that will help them in their day-today lives—both during and after their undergraduate studies—as well as enable them to make connections and network with like-minded individuals who are seeking to expand their skillsets.
Humboldt State University—and the surrounding community of Humboldt County—is continually make efforts towards helping people live a more accessibly-sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. The farm-to-table movement and local Farmers’ Markets events are wildly popular, but not every patron has the means to attend or pay for fresh produce. Perhaps, the HSU Library could draw inspiration from the University and greater community to create a bi-monthly event in the Library will help educate patrons on how to start an at-home vegetable garden. Even those who don’t have enough space to create their own personal garden space could attend the Library’s gardening events to learn basic principles that could be applied elsewhere. There is even a Community Garden on HSU’s campus that the Library could partner with to potentially expand and create more in-depth, high-level gardening events.
There are endless opportunities for libraries to support learners, and as Dr. Stephens sagely notes in The Heart of Librarianship: Attentive, Positive, and Purposeful Change, “[p]roviding opportunities to gain knowledge—either formally within networked courses delivered across multiple channels by the university, or via services, collections, and access made seamless and available to anyone wherever they may be—is key for both LIS professors and librarians,” which demonstrates the ongoing need for the implementation of unconventional library services to support people in as many varying wats as possible (2016, p. 125).
Academic libraries shouldn’t limit their scope of library services to those that directly relate to the scholarly endeavors of students. Libraries are supportive hubs for those who seek information and limitations shouldn’t be placed on the types of services that can be created to help people become more literate—in whichever way(s) that may be. Information and digital literacies are important to master, however, they aren’t isolated from—or useful without—life literacies. The implementation of programs that are based on life literacies (e.g. introductory cooking, garment care (sewing and laundering basics), travel tips, etc.) support people in all areas of their being, proving that libraries are an essential component of the global classroom and that learning truly is everywhere.
Stephens, M. (2016). Learning everywhere. In The heart of librarianship: attentive, positive, and purposeful change (pp. 123-125). Chicago: ALA Editions.
Stephens, M. (2020). Infinite learning: Learning everywhere [Web Lecture]. Retrieved from https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=e38d4a22-9626-4b29-a038-aaef0124ee52