Sunday, November 9, 2008

What can we do as librarians to help?

Thomas Jefferson said of information, "Information is the currency of democracy." As librarians we must promote this idea in any way we can including educating people so that they are Information literate. Some ways in which we can do so are by offering resources to educators (of all grades/levels-early intervention is key) and our patrons, which includes passing out helpful brochures and conducting workshops. Humes (2002-2004) stated, " The goal is to prepare students early on to "learn how to learn" and carry these skills into other areas of their lives so that they can be independent seekers and consumers of information throughout their lives."The Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT)- a roundtable of the ALA, advocates for "library instruction and information literacy as a part of lifelong learning. LIRT supports librarians engaged in library instruction and information literacy in all types of libraries." They have many resources for educators and librarians which would be useful. Visit them at : The Detroit Public Library (as do a lot of other libraries) offers several free public access workshops for using the internet. These include workshops on how to conduct searches in the catalog or on the web and how to find jobs. For descriptions and schedule, see: The Florida International University Libraries developed a selective bibliography on information literacy. Check it out : There are also other organizations which have created selective bibliographies as well; the ALA is of course one of them. These are just a small number of the organizations/associations in which plenty of relevanet and useful sources are available to librarians and eucactors and students. We can pass this information out in pamphlets or we can direct individuals/patrons to certain websites or organiztions which help give them tips or hands-on training for becoming information literate. In addition to this we, as librarians or educators, can opt to implement specific models such as the Big6 (see: ) in teaching information literacy. As mentioned libraries can also conduct free or low cost workshops as well.

Do you think that passing out pamphlets which contain selected bibliogrpahies on information literacy for the general public/college students is appropraite and useful? Or should those only be for the librarians to use as catalysts in teaching Information literacy ?

As a librarian what approach would you take to teach information literacy?

Do you think that Librarians have an equal role in teaching information literacy or is it the main responsibility of teachers to do so?


Library instruction Round Table. (October 9,2008.) Retrieved Novemeber 02,2008, from,

Humes, B. (2004). Understanding Information Literacy. Retrieved November 9,2008,from,

The Big 6 Information & Technology Skills for Student Achievement. (2008.) Retrieved November 1,2008, from,

Technology, Literacy, and Career Center. (2006) Retrieved October 31, 2008, from,


Liz Drewek said...

I think it is important for librarians to help their patrons utilize the Internet in such a way that they are getting accurate information. In addition to reviewing and critiquing print resources that the library has or is interested in purchasing, I believe it is the job of librarians to review and critique websites. Providing pamphlets or pages on the library website that lists credible, accurate, and reliable websites that patrons can visit to find information is one way to ensure that they are getting the right answers to their questions. While this may not exaclty be teaching them information literacy, it will at least provide them with correct information which is all some people want. You cannot force a person to learn how to use a database or how to evaluate resources, but you can provide them with the best resources you have found. There are some people who simply want the right answer, they do not want to know how to get it themselves.

To teach patrons information literacy, another idea would be to provide a link on the page listing reliable, librarian reviewed websites that tells patrons how to evaluate the websites they are on. Teach them how to check for authors, when they were posted, any affiliations, and everything else that goes into reviewing a resource. This would be a valuable resource for teachers of all levels as well as public librarians who are helping both with homework and with questions from adults. Actually instructing groups of people is a wonderful idea but you have to understand that there will be people who can't/wont come so providing this information to them in another way helps to reach patrons and increase their information literacy.

Nate Palmer said...

It is important for libraries to be involved in information literacy. As for the style and means of sharing this information it depends upon the community in which the library is located. Librarians, have the ability to evaluate websites and other resources and compile that information into pathfinders for patrons to use. Brochures and pamphlets can be used as a catalyst, for the patron. It will depend upon the subject. For example, the library may have a pathfinder that gives basic information on tax forms, but they may have a disclaimer somewhere that would tell the patron for more in depths questions see a tax accountant. Other information the library might be able to provide more in depth help with, such as local history information.

Librarians in many ways are teachers. They take this role on in their daily duties. It may not always seem obvious, but libraries help educate society through many venues i.e. computer training, subject research, etc.

Anonymous said...

Great point about the librarian reviewed websites. That would be a really great project to "pilot" in a library if the library never had a resource like this. Actually, "How to evaluate websites" would be a good concept for a tutorial similar to the one at University of Texas at Austin.

Jeehan said...

Nate, I completely agree that much of what libraries should or should not use is a matter depending on the needs of the community. When I watched Abram's video I remeber him emphasizing that. There is no-one size fits all approach for libraries in teaching info. literacy to their patrons. There is also no one size fits all approach to anything else when it comes to libraries. Each library is unique in its own ways and the services the offer will differ according to the needs and wants of the community. Passing out information which will assist other in becoming information literate might be appropraite for one community and yet another community might need and want hands on services such as workshops in which librarians guide them to becoming information literate.

Casey Bolton said...

Actually, I think pamphlets would be a great idea! In addition, I'd love to see some sort of programming implemented to make patrons aware of what constitutes good or bad information and some key techniques they can use to identify it.

I know a lot of Public libraries offer the computer classes for Microsoft Office and some basic literacy requirements, but I haven't seen many that provide information identification classes and I think it would be a huge asset for either Public or Academic Libraries were these opportunities to be offered to library clients.

As time goes on and the level of basic computer literacy goes up, I believe libraries will have to re-tailor their "basic" computer knowledge courses to compensate for the fact that most patrons know how to work a mouse and so on, but lack the Net savvy to navigate the huge amount of information available to them via the World Wide Web.

LaurieC said...

I once thought teachers were really up on info literacy. But, I have seen first hand that this is not always the case. Many teachers are sadly behind the times with using the library catalog, finding books and using web 2.0 tools. I believe it is vital that librarians teach these skills, as we are situated to be at the forefront of being knowledgeable and understanding of all things library & techish. Librarians can truly make a difference in the lives of every person, young or old, that is provided this vital toolbox of information- for a lifetime.

Stephanie Y said...

I think that pamphlets are perhaps the best way to teach people about information literacy, especially when it comes to the use of the web. I stated this also on the discussion board, but to repeat myself, if the library provided patrons and students with tips on identifying illegitamate sites, an overall improvement in information literacy cold be possible. I think that librarians do have the responsibility to be advocates of "IL", as they are responsible for providing reliable sources, they have the responsibility of teaching their patrons to do the same for themselves.

Tracy Carlton said...

In many ways library and librarians are a form and source of community education. Providing pamphlets and educational brochures is one way, I also think providing an organized website with vetted and accurate information that patron can access easily is another way. Knowing how to evalute internet resources and information in a skill that is learned and providing tools that can assist in that education is a community service that librarians should be actively be involved in.

Alicia Dyer said...

The first statement of this post is very thought provoking--"Information is the currency of democracy." That is a brilliant quote and one definitely suitable for the topic of information literacy. We use information very much like currency when you think about it. It is tradeable, it is worth something (and can be extremely valuable or not so much). But I think we could all agree that information is needed in a democratic society. It helps fuel equality among us.

As for using brochures to help promote information literacy, I would think it could be beneficial, particularly with all the changes in technologies. It is important to keep up to date and valid in regard to the information out there. I believe it was Judith Field's article/interview with Nettie Seabrooks in which she said we should aim to become lifelong learners. I think that is what many of us want--so why wouldn't it be appropriate to promote this?