At the recent conference on ‘user education’ it struck me that there was a tendency in librarianship as a whole to see courses of instruction in isolation and to look upon this work done by the librarian as the sole teaching that he or she does. I come from an average Polytechnic and run fairly conventional, even orthodox, formal courses on library use linked with a rather bureaucratic compulsory library tutoring system for dissertations.
Seen in isolation such courses can be given an exaggerated importance when they are, in fact, only a minor part of the process. Supporting and acting as a vital example to such tuition is everything from an initial orientation tour through to information work, to literature guides, to stock selection and relegation policies, indeed the whole library. The long term objective of a Polytechnic Library must be about introducing and promoting an ‘eyes open’ approach to information-seeking in the real world beyond the educational institution. The question that should be asked is, “Is the Polytechnic Library as a whole conceived in such a way as to be as relevant as possible to its prime objective of educating its users — or is it there because-it is there?”