Posts Tagged ‘ information literacy ’

Listening to [Google Generation] Users #erl13

The ER&L 2013 conference began with a great intro by ER&L founder Bonnie Tijerina who provided her personal theme for this year — bridging our community with other communities and cross-pollinating ideas. Introducing the keynote speaker, it seems an apt theme, as we aim to continually bridge the ER community with our user community.

Michael Eisenberg (University of Washington Information School) provided an overview of the Google Generation (1993-2013) and their information seeking habits informed by the results of the Project Information Literacy. Reminding us of the “stack of needles” information environment in which we and our user find ourselves, Eisenberg offered insights and possible responses to the information needs of this generation. He also offered some interesting projections for the ??? (to be named) Generation of 2013+, like GoogleMS (a Google Microsoft merger) and brain-controlled environments (Google glasses, as a start).

Project Information Literacy (PIL) has to do with questions of how people find information, what they do with it, and what problems are encountered along the way.  Eisenberg presented the findings of the study and provided an excellent worksheet with one column outlining all the results, and another (blank) one for the takeaway lessons for libraries.

The results may not surprise librarians or teaching faculty.  These users have expectations for perfection, and yet believe the best approach is Google.  Their course research sources are limited, but do include course readings, databases, instructors, and, yes, Wikipedia — ignoring faculty recommendations to avoid it and just intentionally not citing it. Their personal research, however was quite different.  Here users start with Google and Wikipedia first.  Don’t you?  Takeaway: Librarians should consider Wikipedia as another social media resource for being where their users are.  Begin reviewing, updating, and writing content here — where users can find it!

Other results of the study emphasize that there are legitimate reasons for all-familiar user procrastination, including multiple jobs, studying, and extra scholarly-curricular activities. Takeaway: Have we changed our thinking and staffing and services to accommodate this or are we just judgers?  Their needs change across the academic year for which opening later hours at crunch time is insufficient to address.

The study also shows these students are in fact applying evaluative criteria to online resources and are asking for help, but still they are not asking librarians.  These users consider librarians as assistants with resources.  Given the stack of needles, they don’t need help with resources.  So what do they need?

What the Google Generation needs goes back to a generation-ago of LIS research — formulating research questions, understanding the research process, and the ability to assess themselves through it!  Carol Kuhlthau anyone?  While K-12 prepares students in writing techniques alone, it is lacking in the steps of the research process. Helping users understand the development of research ideas and managing the process/project of research is a critical need for which Eisenberg challenged the audience of mostly ERLs to think of solutions beyond one-off instruction.

Another interesting portion of the PIL study results was the handout (faculty syllabi) assessment.  [Six out of ten – not sure of this stat, but most!] handouts refer students to print resources and almost none to relevant databases.  Takeaway: Librarians should offer to faculty help with updating these.   At my institution, I attended a new faculty luncheon in which “front loading” course design/content was recommended again and again, especially for new faculty.  So that you “do it right the first time” and recycle/tweak the content in ongoing years.  This and these PIL results continue to make me wonder how the library can help the front loading process both from a distributing the workload and “getting it right” perspective.  This is a big opportunity area for the library to play the role it talks about playing in outreach, course design, copyright, information literacy, etc.

Another surprising finding  was that the library desktop/laptop was seen as a valuable tool in how it helped avoid distractions in ways users’ own technology might not.  This continued a more tried and true notion of the nature of focus and an emphasis on the library as place (they liken it to a monastery). Users used terms like “IT fasting” and noted it requires planning ahead (with parents, with peer expectations, etc). Takeaway:  All of this would be good marketing and outreach ideas.


What was great about this keyonte, besides the useful data shared, was Eisenberg’s approach to put it back on librarians.   This included an actual audience participation in completing the sections of  the PIL results/Library Lessons handout.   My group had the result:  “Defining the task and assessing the process are harder than finding the resources”  One tool my library uses to help with this is an assignment planner tool  (which could use a new name, maybe).  Another interesting suggestion was to use information literacy language that makes sense to user, like using the term credit vs cite, or calling it an article search engine rather than a database.

All of this also supports of the oft-repeated concept that we are transitioning the librarian/library from content to service — which was also highlighted in the closing session, The Courage of our Connections: Thoughts on Professional Identities, Organizational Affiliations and Common Communities by Rachel Frick (well-played ER&L, well-played).  So, have we told our users about all this?  Have we trained our librarians?  Have we adjusted our library spaces? Takeaway: What are we going to do about it?  I would encourage you to find out more about the Project Information Literacy research, and share with your communities what you’re doing about it!


truthberry pick of the week

And for a super nerdy and way smarter version of my conclusions in that ‘confessions‘ post: 

Brainpicker tweeted Explore’s discovery of the The New York Times’ Annie Murphy Paul explores the neuroscience of your brain on fiction 

(take your pick)

Journal 09-25-03

Well, this is probably a strange journal overall.  Some entries I typed from free writing and others I wrote straight onto the computer, either by adding on to discussion topics or creating an original entry.  So, it probably lacks consistency overall.  But, I guess if it isn’t clear in other entries, I can say it here, that I do feel more confident about the issues we’ve discussed in this class.  Whereas at first I was completely overwhelmed by the multiplicity of areas that the information sciences cover, now I feel I can approach it with a growing curiosity.  I am still overwhelmed in as much as if I get going on a topic I tend to be more impassioned than intelligible.  But I think I’m learning more and more.

An article I read recently really takes a bite out of all this realm of our profession.  Rich Lowry in an article titled “The ideological librarians” would have us bottom feeding (as  the joke goes) with the lawyers of the world.  He doesn’t seem to have liked that we’ve let our hair down and become impassioned about civil liberties.  Instead, he seems to be more in a state of shock, revealing a bit of fear of abandonment, as he reflectively defines librarians by the books he learned to read as a kid.  This is just what John Ashcroft also did in his statement regarding the ALA “hype” over the Patriot Act.

My initial entry essay to this degree program was filled with excitement precisely at the fact that it was so obvious to me that the library profession is changing, that we’ve “come unbunned”.  Though I had no idea to what extent I would become involved in this, I am no less confident about this evolving mission.  I do have to wonder, after reading articles like these, if I am (we are?) too isolated in this vision when all around people outside the profession don’t seem to have a clue what librarians do.

To Lowry’s credit, he does bring issues to light that we have discussed in class, especially in the area of fashionable librarians’ and libraries’ social service bent (e.g. the homeless) while contrasting that to the majesty of the more traditional library (e.g. Library of Alexandria).  He also raises questions that I have not yet answered for myself (e.g. Internet access filters).  If nothing else, I think the rising voice of the ALA to these and other issues of public concern is a dramatic statement to our changing role.  So, I guess it is to be expected that it takes people by surprise.  Lowry’s opinion will not stop the change, and perhaps his voice is a diamond in the rough if it causes people to see a little bit of the revolution at hand!

Journal 09-03-03/09-22-03

Man, do I want to believe in the idea that school libraries should be  as “free access” as possible, or maybe as public libraries…but in line with the professor’s “no fines” philosophy.  My gut tells me that until the school gets on board with those kinds of ideals, the library will not thrive in such an environment.  I had a similar frustration as a music teacher in the public schools.  The other teachers and the administration are all about their love for music and how supportive they are of the music program and how much the kids love music.  But when it comes to implementing and providing support  for what works, what makes the music program survive, the structure is just not there.  It is a huge problem rooted deep in the public education system itself, I think.  Who in class was saying they wanted to go into school administration?  That sparks my interest as well.

I had this fantasy that the public school library’s role in the school would have to dramatically change in the direction of “information commons” giving it a central role in the school itself.  No more library” visits”.  Rather, classes, lectures, workshops, cooperative teaching.  I think even academic libraries (like the one I work in) are still dreaming about this and how to connect the faculty with the library in new ways — not just for their personal research, but for research and academia as a whole.  Imagine what it is going to take to convince the community to buy into this for our youth.

Maybe a wedge in the crack would be for school libraries like this to provide more resources in the library for teachers in addition to students (like at academic libraries) by providing their curriculum tools, relevant literature and media, current issues facing the education profession, ec.  Maybe also, have workshops for teachers on teaching practices or using media.  Move conference rooms into the library for teacher meetings. Make the library the main domain for all information literacy aspects of the school.

Even thinking about marketing this is exhausting.  But I wholeheartedly think it necessary to be marketing and educating our bosses, the administration, etc.  A relative of mine — a former curriculum developer in public schools administration — had no idea what I would be learning to do at library school.  Where do we begin?

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