Distinguished Visitors: Five Library Directors from Georgia Visit CUNY

March 18, 2013 | News

Learning about library education in the U.S. attracted delegates from five of Georgia’s academic libraries to visit CUNY’s Office of Library Services.  The five library directors, accompanied by two interpreters from the U.S. Department of State Department, arrived on January 31st, 2013, to exchange notes on librarianship, in Georgia and the United States.

The meeting began with presentations from CUNY librarians on emerging trends in information literacy instruction at CUNY. Stefanie Havelka (Lehman College) spoke about the success of the Mobile Information Literacy course that she teaches at Lehman College. She said that “M” learning is transforming the social role of teaching and learning, and making learning more collaborative. “M” learning is effective in engaging students because it is attuned to students’ attitudes and behaviors. “This generation of users is hyperconnected,” she said, “and we as educators need to be where the students are.”

Scott Sheidlower (York College) asserted that the medium for transmitting learning is less important than the skills students learn. “I’m not sure this adds to the students’ knowledge database,” he said. “Professions and media change. In five year, you might need to transfer these skills. We must teach students to be independent learners.” Robin Brown (Borough of Manhattan Community College) said that both online and onsite learning delivery systems are needed in higher education.  “I am passionate about e-books, but they tend to be mainstream.  If you have written anything radical, left-of-center, published before 2001, it is not an e-book.”

The subject was one of interest to the Georgian librarians. In Georgia there is no information literacy instruction in the American sense of the term, in which a librarian has instructional responsibility for a course or a workshop. Rather, students learn research skills from subject faculty in the classroom and by consulting librarians and conducting research.

Professional education for librarians was another topic of discussion. One of the reasons for the trip, said Teona Kavelashvili, director of the Ilia State University Library, was to explore the possibility of establishing a library science degree program or major in Georgia. Georgia does not yet offer a library science degree or courses in library education. All of the library directors visiting CUNY hold advanced degrees in other subject areas.

The Georgian delegation’s visit to CUNY was part of a strenuous 20-day tour of the United States included visits to libraries in Utah, Minnesota, DC and New York City. The group was travelling under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Besides Ms. Kavelashvili, the Georgian delegation included Giorgi Chichinadze (Akaki Tsereteli State University Library); Lela Turmanidze (Shota Rustaveli Batumi State University Library); Nana Karaulashvili (Telavi State University Library); and Zurab Gaiparashvili (Tbilisi State University Library).

Curtis Kendrick, university dean for libraries and information resources at CUNY, noted that while visits from foreign librarians contribute to the shared store of knowledge, “the emphasis is on cultural exchange,” he said, “and that helps us learn from one another.”