The key to lifelong learning is that it should be just that—life long. As a living being, humans are always changing and with that comes advanced personal knowledge that can be used internally and to interact with the world. The hitch is that our lives are designed to learn when we are young. Despite the fact that our brains are most pliable when young, we are capable of learning at any age as long as we possess sufficient health. How then do librarians promote life long learning for adults or people when their lives no longer involve school and the expectation of constant learning?
A librarian has many tools at their disposal and yet the one that might be most useful for lifelong learning is free and requires no expenditure on supplies—the booktalk. We work amidst books, making bookmarks, creating bibliographies, offering tutorials on using OPACs and more, forgetting we are a conduit between the books purchased to live on our shelves and the patrons that walk in our front doors. In essence we are a greeter, making introductions between people and books so that relationships can be formed and friendships made.
In that moment of introductions, lies an opportunity of great import. It is the opportunity to turn the introduction into a booktalk, signalling to the patron what the book can truly offer them and showing how the book can offer an avenue into a new learning potential in a friendly and unassuming manner. Learning can be anxiety inducing and that is where the librarian has the potential to help a patron start over the hurdle by talking about how enjoyable and readable a book is on a topic a patron might show interest in but hesitancy in reading. Bringing the book to the patron and showing how easy and enjoyable it would be for the patron to read can start a new spark of learning that a patron might not kindle on their own. In this way, the booktalk becomes a vehicle for lifelong learning right at the library with the neighborhood librarian.