BYU librarian shares importance of wisdom, curiosity and patience to cultivate information literacy

Rachel L. Wadham, a senior librarian at the Harold B. Lee Library, addresses students and faculty during a devotional on June 28. Wadham shared how cultivating wisdom, curiosity and patience can help the BYU community to be more information literate. (BYU Photo)

Rachel L. Wadham, a senior librarian at the Harold B. Lee Library who has worked at BYU for 26 years, addressed the campus community during a devotional on June 28 and shared how cultivating wisdom, curiosity and patience can help the people become more information literate.

Wadham began her address by relating the story of “The Judge: An Untrue Tale,” a book which tells the story of a skeptical judge who learns that several people he put in jail were telling the truth about a monster coming to destroy him. After ignoring the information given to him, the judge is eaten by the beast and the jailers are set free.

According to Wadham, the judge’s mistake was not validating the information given to him to make an informed decision. Wadham told the audience about the importance of building skills which will help to sift through the wide range of information people encounter everyday and to make informed choices.

“Like a beautiful bounteous garden, these skills are not things we can get or acquire immediately,” Wadham said. “They can only be developed through diligent, careful practice and nurturing, thus they must be cultivated.”

Wadham said she works everyday to help people understand how to sort through and evaluate a vast amount of information. The process requires more than just wisdom and it takes knowledge, experience and insight.

“Cultivating wisdom allows us to enrich and broaden our understanding of so many topics from biology to religion,” Wadham said. “​​I contend that critical information literacy skills can help us better navigate our world in ways that can make us better human beings and better saints.”

Wadham also stressed the importance of building wisdom over time, being patient in the process and knowing it will not happen overnight.

“It is important then to give ourselves a little grace for knowing that we may not be wise now, nor may be wise in all situations or at every moment,” Wadham said. “The point is to cultivate wisdom over time.”

Wadham then shared the importance of curiosity in becoming more information literate, describing how her parents growing up taught her to be curious, and about how her own home was an environment where she felt she could explore. 

“Curiosity urges us to ask questions, to seek out a range of resources and perspectives to seek answers to those questions and to critically evaluate our experiences as we synthesize all information into a new understanding,” Wadham said.  “These skills allow us to open our thoughts and experiences to new ways of thinking.”

The librarian shared it was her curious nature which led her to her profession. Even as a child, Wadham said she dreamed of a life sitting in a chair surrounded by books and answering people’s questions.

“I’ve found my dream job because I just love questions, I love answering them but I also love asking them,” Wadham said. “I’m always the one who wants to know more and the number of questions I have just keeps growing.”

Finally, Wadham addressed the importance of being patient in the learning process.  She explained how patience can be humbling and allow people to become more like Jesus Christ.

“It allows us to be more like our Savior who was our greatest exemplar of gentle, calm, peaceful loving patience,” Wadham said. “But patience is more than social. There is also an important part of patience when it comes to learning and growing, what I term intellectual patience.”

Wadham shared her own experience with patience as she struggled to learn piano because of a learning disability which affected her ability to read four lines of music at once. Over time and with practice, Wadham was able to learn to play and now plays both piano and organ at home and at church.

“Today I challenge you all to think about what powers you need to cultivate that will help you right now, into tomorrow and forever. As I have found in my own life, you will be all the better for the effort,” Wadham said. 

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