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Information literacy instruction in libraries is organized by the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards. Currently under revision, these Standards define a set of external, abstract learning objectives that have been productive of a teaching role for librarians. Simultaneously, the Standards have generated a substantial critical literature that contests the objectives as a “Procrustean bed” that distracts from the particular teaching and learning contexts. This paper offers an alternative organizing heuristic for instruction in libraries. Kairos is an ancient Greek theory of time married to measure. Used by both Plato and the Sophists to understand the emergence of truth from context,kairos has been deployed by composition studies to gain a critical perspective on teaching student writing. Used to understand the context that generated both the first set of Standards and their revision, kairos can usefully direct the energy of teaching librarians toward their particular students and classrooms.


This is a pre-publication version of "Toward a Kairos of Library Instruction," Journal of Academic Librarianship, 40(5): 480-485.