Inquiry and Research: A Relational Approach in the Classroom. By Michelle Reale. Chicago: ALA, 2019. 122 p. Paper $57.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1784-8).

Why do students seek information from academic libraries? More often than many librarians and other educators might hope, their goal is box-checking, finding the required number of resources of the prescribed type to fill the mandatory bibliography to get the assigned paper finished (and forgotten). Librarians risk reinforcing this mindset when we treat the research process mechanistically, as a sequence of steps to be executed: learn these tools, enter these keywords, apply these limiters, click here to save results—check these literal boxes. In Inquiry and Research: A Relational Approach in the Classroom, Reale proposes that librarians instead view their interactions with students as opportunities to encourage a “spirit of inquiry.” Begin, Reale proposes, by pausing the hunt for immediate answers in favor of helping students learn to ask interesting and worthwhile questions. Value curiosity and thoughtfulness. Seek opportunities to center students in their own learning, and help them reflect throughout the research process.

The book is organized into ten chapters that outline different aspects of inquiry and discuss how it applies to different contexts. Each chapter concludes with a list of suggested strategies for implementation. Some of the recommendations are for specific actions (e.g., “Let students know you are available for individual consultations by ending each classroom session with your contact information”) (p. 104). Others are much less concrete, having instead to do with the attitude or mindset with which librarians might approach instructional encounters (e.g., “Understand the power of conversation and articulation of ideas in the inquiry and research process”) (p. 105). This is in keeping with the tenor of the book overall, which is as much conceptual as practical. Although it can be read in barely an hour, this title nonetheless has the potential to encourage librarians to think about our teaching more ambitiously.—Molly Strothmann, Library Collections Strategist, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma


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