This book is about the ability to search for information. The target audience is librarians, and as claimed by the two authors, Ulrike Hanke and Wilfried Sühl-Strohmenger, it is the first textbook addressing the subject of “how to teach users to become information literate.” It should be mentioned that the book is in German. That might put some off. However, if you have a fairly good knowledge of German grammar and vocabulary, you can easily read the book.

   In my opinion, the reason why it is worth your time is that the information literacy movement demands new challenges of librarians who teach. Bibliotheksdidaktik helps you meet those challenges. The book presents a didactic model based on knowledge about information literacy linked with psychological theory and learning theory. Besides elaborating learning theories in relation to information literacy, the authors give useful practical advice and examples from library settings.

I got hold of the book while writing an assignment for a course in didactics. During the last five years, I have taught information literacy to college students, and I have read quite a lot research articles on the subject. Most of them have contributed to my knowledge of information literacy, but few give didactic advice. My course in didactics was not in a library setting but among schoolteachers. I had the experience that educational activities of librarians and schoolteachers are somewhat different. The point is that Bibliothekdidaktik combines knowledge of information literacy with learning theory. Hanke and Sühl-Strohmenger intend to show librarians the need to familiarize themselves with learning theory, and I could not agree more. I find their analysis of Wolgang Klafki’s five questions with regard to planning lessons in information literacy inspirational. Hanke and Sühl-Strohmenger use Klafki’s five questions on a range of different target groups, such as citizens, schoolchildren, students, graduates and postgraduates. Hanke and Sühl-Strohmenger have a point indicating that librarians need to acquire knowledge about what motivation is. To keep learners on track, teachers need strategies to motivate and engage students throughout the course. The book contains a chapter presenting motivational and psychological theories. You can agree or disagree on their choice of theorists (Lewin, Deci & Ryan, Bandura), but they address a topic relevant for many of us who teach young people. Motivating students is one of the major challenges I face, and it has great impact on their learning and behavior.

In the end, Hanke and Sühl-Strohmenger present a model consisting of seven building blocks. Although they state that information literacy should be seen from a situated perspective, they present a rather generic model. Below you can see the Bibliotheksdidaktische rahmenmodel. As you can see, motivation (positive Atmosphäre sichern) is a substantial and integrated element.

The role of the teaching librarian has become much more complex by the information literacy movement. Short orientation courses are not sufficient any more. This new role is challenging for librarians and will have an impact on (or influence) library organization as well as library culture. Bibliotheksdidaktik illuminates the challenges in the process from “instruction librarians” to “teaching librarians.” If you want to develop your role as a teacher, I believe that you will find the book instructive and relevant.