Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Information Literacy's Connection to Reading/Literacy

Many librarians love to read. Many also like to promote reading and ignite an interest in reading among others. Perhaps that's one reason Jennifer Burek Pierce's article "Inspiring Young Readers: There's more than one way to capture hearts and minds" finds such a welcome spot in American Libraries. She quotes Elizabeth Hardwick:
The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.

Reading introduces people to new ideas, which can help people in all the information literacy ways: understanding your information need, accessing information efficiently, evaluating information critically, and applying information ethically. Cracking open a book and thinking about its content will help people develop skills just listed.

If you are interested in the issue of reading, you might begin searching for other articles that Jennifer Burek Pierce has written. You might consult some of the articles she references.
  1. McDowell, Kate. "Surveying the Field: The Research Model of Women in Librarianship, 1882-1898." Library Quarterly 79.3 (July 2009): 279-300.
  2. Motoko Rich. Students Get New Reading Assignment: Pick Books You Like:[Series]. New York Times. (Late Edition (east Coast)). New York, N.Y.:Aug 30, 2009. p. A.1.

I appreciate reading Jennifer Burek Pierce's articles in the American Libraries magazine. She taught my reference class while I attended the University of Iowa's School of Library and Information Science.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Big6 & Info Lit

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Today I shared this presentation with high school teachers in Idaho who participate in the Early College Program here at Idaho State University. We talked about information literacy, including pathways for accessing the many ISU resources, and how to promote more significant learning among our students.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Helping Students Evaluate Sources

Students balk when it comes to evaluating sources. Perhaps it is because they do not have a lot of experience doing it. Maybe they think it is just another irrelevant academic exercise, but it can really help them begin to develop their critical-thinking skills if they take it seriously.

In library instruction sessions I have given, I like to use "Evaluating Information--Applying the CRAAP Test." It has worked rather well. Introducing the concept with a reference to the first Spider-Man movie grabs students' attention at least for a few minutes. When Peter Parker takes his photographs into the big hot-shot editor at the newspaper, the editor calls each photo "crap" as he flips through them. Then he makes his offer to the young Peter Parker, but Peter knows that his work is worth more than this offer. I explain that Peter understands the criteria of a good photograph, because he has done his homework and legwork to make high-quality photos. He stands to leave. Then the editor makes a better offer, because Peter did not fall to his bluff.

Students can also become experts in understanding sources by applying the criteria for good sources.

  1. Currency
  2. Relevancy
  3. Authority
  4. Accuracy
  5. Purpose

Mary George's book The Elements of Library Research: What Every Student Needs to Know writes about evaluating sources in her last chapter, "Insight, Evaluation, Argument, and Beyond." She sympathizes with the novice student researcher:
But how is a novice supposed to figure out anything other than how current a source is and whether it points to other sources? I think it is absurd--not to mention frustrating--for you to apply these criteria on your own. Instead, the wise way to evaluate sources when you are new to a field or topic is to relate each item you are considering to your research question, keeping in mind the types of relevant sources you imagined when you brainstormed. (134 emphasis included)

It seems like most students would do this automatically, but experience sometimes shows that they take the first source(s) available, since they are crunched for time.

George goes on to explain some of the basic evaluation criteria researchers can apply to their sources. These "factors" are:
1. Date of the source
2. Author's credentials
3. Sponsor's reputation and intent
4. Leads (134-36)

Using her paragraphs in a classroom setting might be useful for educators as well as students. Dividing a class into groups to discuss what she has written regarding the criteria could produce some good discussions. Groups could summarize, ask questions, think of examples, and report on their discussions to the class.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Power of Information That is Freely Available

A colleague from my library-school program shared this on Facebook, and I thought it would be useful to post here: Effects of introducing Internet at a village public library in Ukraine. President Barack Obama officially announced October to be National Information Literacy Awareness Month now. Take a look also at the National Forum for Information Literacy.

The power of information is immense, and the ability to access, evaluate, apply, and share information ethically is even more powerful.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How can I Find Book Reviews

While at the reference desk today, someone called and asked for help in finding book reviews. As a librarian I was a bit embarrassed to suggest first. It came to mind first, because I use it frequently in my collection-development duties. There was a book review for the title she needed; however, it was not lengthy enough or fit her criteria.

Next, I thought to search for the New York Times Book Review in our A-Z Journal List, so we searched within EBSCOhost's Academic Search Complete, but not book review could be found for her book.

As a last result, and somewhat reluctantly, I suggested we conduct a Google search. By placing quotation marks around the words in the title, plus the words "book review" we succeeded in finding at least one book review that satisfied this particular student's needs. Interestingly enough, the first result was link to the Amazon entry we had looked at first, but the second looked more legitimate as it had a .edu domain.

Anyway, it should not surprise me that book reviews are freely available on the internet, since book sellers want people to find out about their titles to increase sales.

Out of curiosity, I searched our Library's website to find out if we had a guide for finding book reviews. We do. With the straight-forward title "How to Find Book Reviews," you can find out which resources in the Eli M. Oboler Library system contain book reviews. Print titles are mentioned, such as Book Review Index [Reference Collection: Z1035.A1 B6] and Book Review Digest (which we only have in paper copy [Ref. Coll.: Z1219 .C96], but a lot of the full-text reviews are in materials that we can get to with our A-Z Journal List). A colleague of mine tells me that when she was in MFA school, they were the standard references/indexes for finding quality book reviews and citations, and she still uses them on occasion. Additionally, they also relied on Contemporary Literary Criticism (Ref. Coll.: PN771 .C59).

Still, the internet seems to be the easiest way to find book reviews. Where they come from and how useful they may be is a different question, though.

Searching Tips: Limiting or Reducing Your Results

Searching Tips
The next time you Google information, try using the “+ Show options…” feature. After you have conducted a search it returns thousands or millions of results, look for a link that says “+ Show options…” A menu bar will appear on the left-hand side with options to limit your search to various mediums (videos, news, blogs, books, forums, & reviews), time periods, different views (wonder wheel, timeline, or related searches), as well as options for fewer or more shopping sites.

The wonder wheel lives up to its name; it's pretty cool. Choosing it will take you to a spider-web graph with links that allows you to choose among various subcategories of the topic. At any time you can select a hyperlink to web pages listed along the right side. For someone interested in history, the timeline option looked interesting as well.

Various databases, including library catalogs, have incorporated built-in functions to limit searches into their interfaces for many years. It has been one thing that I have faulted Google for in the past. Most searchers find it useful to utilize prompts that show how they might sift out the wheat from the chaff. Library catalogs sometimes allow users to limit their results to specific time periods, locations within the library, publishers, languages, formats, mediums, places of publication, etc.

More Tips
Many databases also offer limiting options, such as full-text articles, newspaper articles, scholarly articles, time frames, subject categories, author, title, etc. Did you know you can search more than one database at once? Within any of the EBSCOhost databases, select “Choose databases…” to find other databases that might be useful for your search (it's a link above the basic search box). Not sure which databases will be best? Look at the little quotation balloon or look at the “Resources by Subject” pages. Each database indexes a different set of journals, newspapers, and other sources.

Of course, the old standbys for limiting a search should not be forgotten. Adding more keywords to a search and using the Boolean AND will also reduce results. A search on the ubiquitous "gun control" topic could be limited to a specific geographic or demographic population, such as Idaho or Caucasians respectively. Searches can be limited by time period with a keyword such as "nineteenth century" or "Reagan era," for example.

It seems that many college students have not seen many of these search options, so at present it seems like a good thing to point them out, so they can benefit from using them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Creating Significant Learning Experiences in Libraries

Last week I attended and presented at the Idaho Library Association's 2009 Annual Conference, which was held in Burley, Idaho. The theme of the conference was a cowboy/western theme: "Round 'em Up in Burley."

In recent years I have been interested in the scholarship of learning. In fact I have been reading L. Dee Fink's book titled Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach. It has been interesting to think about how people learn and that certain kinds of learning augment and increase other kinds of learning. Learning how to apply knowledge shores up a person's foundational knowledge in that sphere of knowledge.

Take a look at his Taxonomy of Significant Learning. It shows how interconnected learning methods can be. Students that work in groups to solve problems often increase their knowledge, their application skills, and their understanding of others in the process. The synergy can really be quite powerful.

One value of asking students to reflect on what they have learned and how they might learn more about the topic could be that they become more capable and motivated life-long learners.

Do any librarians ask their students to reflect on their learning?

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

For those interested in finding criteria for evaluating information take a look at "Evaluating Information--Applying the CRAAP Test."

PDF version of L. Dee Fink's Taxonomy of Significant Learning.

The last two questions on the slideshow come from Thomas Angelo and Patricia Cross's Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers 2nd Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.

I also like Mel Silberman's Active Learning: 101 Strategies to Teach Any Subject. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1996.