Notes by Fran Zedney
I feel very fortunate to have participated in the Best Practices
Conference. I am indebted to Carol Hansen and Joan Hubbard for inviting
me to be part of the conference and to Kathy Payne for supporting my participation.
It was a wonderful experience for me to become much more familiar with
the many issues involved in the topic of information literacy. Teams of
up to five members each from ten institutions were invited to participate.
Invited institutions were
Austin (Texas) Community College
California State University--Fullerton
Elmhurst (Illinois) College
James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA)
Minneapolis Community & Technical College
Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
University at Albany--State University of New York
Wartburg College (Waverly, Iowa),
Zayed University (United Arab Emirates)
Weber State University.
During the many discussions we had on the topic of information
literacy, it became apparent that regardless of the type of institution,
the challenges of teaching library and research skills to students have
striking similarities across the board. Common problems included faculty
buy-in, problems with faculty "illiteracy," and debate over
the terminology (information fluency rather that info literacy, for example).
Our goal was to review and revise the draft of the ten "Characteristics
of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices."
NOT an easy assignment when you have nearly 50 people trying to reach
consensus on what constitutes best practices!
Some interesting ideas and comments were made during the
sessions. Following are some that I found especially thought-provoking.
in response to the question "Must information literacy
programs be driven by librarians?" : Is it
important who does it? Faculty have to realize their students are
not skilled information seekers and the ways we may have learned in
the past by trial and error doesn't work any more.
Librarians will probably be the driving force in developing
info lit programs
Information literacy must be totally integrated in the
curricula, similar to Write Across the Curriculum Program. This means
information literacy experts (librarians) must be involved with faculty.
in response to the question "Can information literacy
programs be outsourced?" : Outsourcing may not be practical since
programs must be tied to mission, etc. Integration with curricula
Appeal to faculty with powerful ideas. Faculty develop
courses with a set of information goals in mind. Information literacy
can expand on that and make it more open-ended.
Don't think of information literacy as electronic literacy.
Think of what do I need to know, what format do I need, how best delivered?
Are we promoting our programs and what we are doing?
He thinks we need to publicize!
When working with faculty, don't start with aspects
of the library. Approach them with how we can help their students
learn new sources, etc. Involve other campus groups, such as Student
Affairs, etc. when implementing your program.
Information literacy HAS to be institution-supported,
not just librarians working with certain faculty. Also has to
be ongoing so it doesn't wither if an individual leaves.
ACRL wants to develop standards for subject specific
Michael Bell, Vice-President for Academic Affairs at
Elmhurst College, stated that Best Practices has to be useful. Faculty
don't care about students who are information literate--they want
students who can effectively research in their discipline
Teaching is not learning. We had some discussion of
how librarians can become more effective teachers. Some suggestions
included having teaching education staff present a session on effective
teaching strategies, incorporate teaching techniques, read books on
college teaching, and videotaping a session and discussing how
to improve. Keep students the focus of teaching and assessment.
"Seize the moment" when you remodel or build
a new library. It's a really good time to reach out and do PR.
Michael Bell suggests looking at the following web pages:
the PhD and Preparing
Someone suggested that we read College Teaching. It
is full text in Education Full Text and Academic Search Elite.
Someone suggested a program called
qarbon to create tutorials at a reasonable price. Library at
North Dakota State University used it. You can see their online tutorial
for info literacy here.
Ideas for reaching out to faculty (subject specific instruction)
"Are you happy with the quality of your students'
papers? We can help students write better citation, evaluate web sites,
find research articles, etc."
"Let us help you update your syllabus."
If departments have a listserv, be sure library liaison
is on the list
Encourage faculty to come to the library with their
students for orientation--to model behavior
Include faculty in the class session. Example: "Dr.
Jones, why do you want your students to use scholarly journals?"
Do a competency list for EACH class and handout to students
If faculty member hesitates to bring class to library
because of lack of class time, suggest that he have students come
to the library on their own as part of class requirements. Library
staff could offer several sessions as needed.
Each of the ten institutions did a brief presentation about
their information literacy program. Some of them included handouts which
I have in my office. If you would like to read them, just let me know.
Submitted by Fran Zedney
July 9, 2002