Friday, November 2, 2012


Serendipity: the faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident
I’m afraid it’s becoming a lost art in Libraries. PDA aside (see last week’s post), I think there’s much yet to be discovered in our print collection. I know it’s incredibly convenient to have the world at our fingertips through our online catalog and our GALILEO databases, but what about those books you never would have looked for, but were incredibly interested to find? Does it ever cross your mind to just wander in the library stacks to see what it is that those crazy Physics (or substitute another discipline, as far from yours as possible) folks find to read to stretch their minds?
It seems to me, that the purpose of a Liberal Arts Education is to get a broad foundation in all sorts of fields of knowledge. Can you really study Da Vinci’s art without reading about his life in Science (The Dictionary of Scientific Biography REF Q141 .D5) or  to learn about all facets of his creativity? What is creativity? (See Creativity: from potential to realization). Do you forget names? Maybe The Cognitive Psychology of Proper Names could shed some light. What discovery might you make on a wander through the shelves? Are you stuck in your own discipline and need a little ‘broadening’?
Try this for me….pick a section of the library with a topic you know very little about, and wander for a while. (Here’s a guide to get you started). I think as little as 30 minutes invested could yield enormous gains and expand your world view. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself still wandering the shelves several hours later!

Come see us at the Lewis Library for a dose of Serendipity!
**This post authored by Mary Lou Dabbs

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