Review: Humor and Information Literacy: Practical Techniques for Library Instruction

By Dina Hornreich - Posted on 15 June 2012

Vossler, Joshua and Scott Sheidlower. Humor and Information Literacy: Practical Techniques for Library Instruction.  Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2011. 145p. Paperback, $45.00 (ISBN: 978-1598845327)

Reviewed by
Marcie Beard
Colorado Mountain College

Humor and Information Literacy states right up front that it is not a book about how to construct and present a library instruction session based on the ACRL guidelines.  Instead, Vossler and Sheidlower focus on ways to make library instruction sessions interesting.  They submit that, although the evidence is inconclusive that humor actually benefits learning, using humor in the classroom makes an instructor more approachable, and thus more available for patron interactions later on.
The first section of the book is a literature review that looks at the use of humor in the classroom in four different ways: in a library instruction session, in education, in psychology, and in stand-up comedy routines.  This section solidifies the argument that humor can be beneficial in the classroom if it is used in conjunction with the information being taught, not in place of the information being taught.
The second section is what makes this book worth reading.  Split into six different categories, this section provides fifty different scenarios real librarians have tried to make their library instruction sessions more interesting.  Although not every suggestion can be used in every situation by every librarian, this book made me think a lot more about my own presentation skills and what could be improved. 
While I won’t be attempting any cartwheels in the next instruction session I teach, I will be cracking more jokes.  Recommended for academic and school instruction librarians who are looking for a new way to breathe life into what can sometimes be a monotonous and repetitive presentation.