When introduced to threshold concepts, librarians usually ask “How do I use them?” Yet this question hopscotches another: “Do I understand threshold concepts and how they relate to information literacy?” Threshold concepts are themselves a threshold concept. They are transformative, integrative, irreversible, bounded, troublesome, and – importantly – they take time to traverse. With ACRL’s shift toward more conceptual teaching in the new Framework for Information Literacy, our profession needs to take time to deeply understand what this kind of teaching and learning is all about. We’ll talk about the theory of threshold concepts and making incremental moves towards conceptual teaching and assessment, including how to incorporate the work that instruction librarians already do in this arena and why traditional bibliographic instruction still has a place in our teaching repertoire.
Amy R. Hofer is Reference & Instruction Librarian and Assistant Professor at Portland State University. She received her MLIS from San Jose State University and her BA from Brown University. By night she is a fiddler and square dance caller. Amy lives in Portland, OR, with her cat Calvin, who likes to hear his own name (“Caaallllvin”).
Silvia Lu is a Reference and Social Media Librarian and Assistant Professor at LaGuardia Community College, a CUNY institution. Silvia holds a BA in Literature and Government from Claremont McKenna College, a MLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a MA in English Literature from the University of New Mexico. Silvia likes story-based radio, growing vegetables, and telling too many stories about her dog, Watson. She lives in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Lori Townsend is the Learning Services Coordinator for the University Libraries at the University of New Mexico. She holds a BA in History from the University of New Mexico and a MLIS from San Jose State University. Lori is a fan of elaborately-constructed sci-fi novels, visually-compelling design (she makes our slides!), and mid-day snacks. She bridges the divide in Team TC by being both a dog and a cat person. Lori lives in a brightly colored Victorian in the East Downtown (EDo) neighborhood in Albuquerque.