Getting Over the Cognitive Gap
I said this before and I say it with confidence again – Information is powerful. Whether we realize it or not, we use information to solve our problems. Librarians and information professionals like to call the absence of information in the wake of a problem a ‘cognitive gap.’
Here is a classic example of the dissolution of a cognitive gap at the library reference desk. By the way, this is a very true story that has happened several times.
An elderly lady approaches me at the reference desk. Before saying anything, the expression on her face reads exhaustion, confusion and melancholia. It is clear that she is not feeling well. When she begins to ask her question, it is also clear that she is having a hard time finding the words to speak, so I ask her the simple question, “How are you?”
I discovered that her life-time partner, friend and husband passed away and she needed support materials to help her deal with grief. So I asked her if she is looking for personal stories, psychology/self-help books, and social support groups. Her facial expression appeared instantly brighter as if she saw a glimmer of light nearby. Although she did not say it, I could tell that she was fascinated by all the information and social supports available for her. It was almost as if she knew the materials were there to help her cross the ‘cognitive gap’ so she could restore her well-being.
By the way, she comes to visit ever so often to remind me how grateful she is. She even participates in our senior programs and has met some new people in the neighbourhood. Here are some books that touched her: