Framework Spotlight on Scholarship: “Toward a Kairos of Library Instruction” by Drabinski

This week’s Spotlight on Scholarship features Emily Drabinski’s article “Toward a Kairos of Library Instruction” [paywall], published in the Journal of Academic Librarianship in Volume 40, Issue 5, September 2014, pp. 480-485.

This article, published in 2014 while the Framework was being developed, uses the historical moment of revising the Standards into a Framework as an opportunity to offer an alternative lens through which to approach students’ needs in and through library instruction: kairos. Kairos refers to the timeliness of things that always come after what precedes them, and as a result are always contextualized. Drabinski argues that the Standards, and to an extent the then-imminent Framework, are by design abstracted from the present context in which we meet students in the library instruction classroom, whereas a kairos of library instruction centers always the immediate needs of the particular students we are working with in any given moment. To do this, the article first introduces the concept of kairos including its origin in the art of rhetoric in ancient Greece, then reads the history and emergence of the Standards through the lens of kairos, thus contextualizing their functional purpose within the profession. The article goes on to develop what a kairos of the classroom looks like, building on the development of kairos within composition studies, with the goal of envisioning what this deeply contextual approach to instruction could look like in the library instruction classroom. It concludes with a reading of the revision process that resulted in the Framework as a kairotic moment that is responding to the various critiques of the Standards’ fixedness that came before. Through this article Drabinski challenges library instruction practitioners to acknowledge the historicity of the Framework and in so doing engage it critically and contextually as we incorporate it into our practice.

Emily Drabinski is Coordinator of Library Instruction at Long Island University, Brooklyn.

The “Framework Spotlight on Scholarship” column is a weekly post series highlighting scholarship that uses, builds on, critiques, or responds to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.