I’ve been doing a lot of reading.
Several times a week, I check my mailbox and find a small package from a publisher, containing a book to be read in consideration for the Stonewall Book Award. There’s a growing stack of colorful books by my front door and, most days, I try to squeeze in a few more minutes of reading during my train commute. ALSC confidentiality rules (as irksome as they may be) preclude me from sharing or discussing my thoughts about these books outside of the committee. Reading books and NOT being allowed to talk about them is a pretty good way to torture a librarian.
For most of last week, my nose was buried in articles about peer observations of information literacy instruction. If I wasn’t reading, I was furiously typing–I wrote a 4,000-word document outlining procedures for a new peer observation of teaching program for my department, complete with a table of contents, several pages of rubrics, and a long list of references. If you’re developing or revamping a similar program in your instruction department, I highly recommend this article by Loanne Snavely and Nancy Dewald from The Journal of Academic Librarianship.
On Friday, I received my copy of The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch and I’m nearly finished with it. It’s a dizzying, beautiful book, and I’m excited to see her read at the Tattered Cover in Denver tonight.
While I’m doing my best to remain focused on the enormous stack of articles I still need to read for my #100infolitarticlesin100days project, it’s tough when pre-prints like this one come out and send me into a frenzy. I am extremely grateful for the work that Jones and Salo are doing to question the conflicts between our professional ethics as librarians and the growing pressure to collect and analyze extraneous data about our students in the library. Their words made me feel less alone.
My husband and I drove to Santa Fe last weekend for his birthday. Well, technically, he drove, and I handled the stereo, fed him snacks, and read articles about the Framework. The drive between Denver and Santa Fe is six hours long, mostly flat, with few points of interest or variations in scenery (brown, some green, flat, some hills, more brown, a little green, and so on). At one point, somewhere south of the Raton Pass, Iain said, “Talk to me.”
“Anything,” he laughed. He gestured at the endless stretch of straight road in front of him. “This is pretty boring. Tell me about your articles.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, incredulous. But really, what choice did he have? It was infolit shop talk or fall asleep at the wheel. So I explained that I was in the midst of several articles about the transition from the ACRL Standards for Information Literacy to the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy.
“I’m actually reading an article by Kevin,” I said.
“What’s it called?”
“‘THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING,” I replied. “I think it has the best title of the bunch.” Then I added, summing up about a million dramatic listserv exchanges, “Basically it’s about how the Framework should inform teaching, because it’s more theoretical and conceptual than the Standards, which were more prescriptive.”
I kept going. “This part is really cool. Listen: ‘That means that a model of information literacy instruction which universally praises scholarly research and devalues alternative venues of information dissemination is no longer valid.'” (Seeber, 2015, p. 162)
Iain nodded, “Yeah, that makes sense to me. It sounds like how you teach, when you explain to students that there aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’ sources of information, just different types, and you have to think about how and why you would use them.”
“Bingo,” I said. Sometimes it’s really great to be married to a historian who wrote a dissertation about scholarly publishing. He cares a lot about information access and retrieval.
Then I got really nerdy and explained my great joy for Carol Kuhlthau. “So this article is actually from before the Framework was finalized. It was published in 2013, but Kuhlthau has been researching information literacy since the 1980s, and her big thing is looking at the feelings, thoughts, and actions of students during the research process. She has this model called the Information Search Process, ISP, which basically says that students start out feeling vague and uncertain, then they get a boost of optimism when they’ve picked a topic, and that plummets–” I dipped my hand, like a rollercoaster dropping down a steep incline, “when students start to actually explore their topic and they get more confused and frustrated. Then things get better once they use that new information to clarify their topics, get a solid direction going, and share what they’ve found.”
“So what does she say about the Standards?”
“Well, it’s a short article with three main points. She says that the Standards focuses too much on the process of extracting information, which is too simplistic, like cutting and pasting. She also says that librarians need to take a more ‘holistic’ view of student learning, so that’s her whole ISP thing, with thinking, feeling, acting as part of learning. And she wants to see a more holistic approach to information literacy that includes a bigger emphasis on inquiry and on affective processes.”
“What else have you read so far?”
“Well, there was this article about iPads.”
“What’s it about?”
“They used iPads to teach Information Creation as a Process, which is one of the frames.”
“It’s a little confusing. They did a bunch of different things. Part of it included the students watching documentary videos on iPads in groups, and talking about how those videos were created, and how those videos are similar or different from scholarly articles. The librarian also took a picture of themselves using the iPad, and then the class helped the librarian post that picture to Instagram, so they collectively decided on a caption and hashtags and stuff.”
“What do you think of all that?”
“I’m not sure, exactly. I like the idea of it. I’m not sure that iPads were necessary. The part that’s the most interesting is the fact that they had observers watch the instruction session and code the students’ participation and comments. I hadn’t considered that before. Sort of an interesting methodology, classroom observation of instruction.”
“Hmm, hmm.” Iain nodded in his agreeable, stiff upper lip, keep-calm-and-carry-on way. “Anything else interesting?”
I shrugged. “Just one other article, but they refer to students as ‘budding researchers’, which grosses me out for some reason. Like college students are in the puberty phase of their research habits.”
Iain laughed, and then the road opened up, the landsape got a bit more interesting, the sun sank a bit lower, and we found our little casita just a few blocks from the Plaza in Santa Fe. That night, Iain had a hamburger doused with green chiles, and the next day, he turned thirty-three.
Jacobson, T. E., & Gibson, C. (2015). First thoughts on implementing the framework for
information literacy. Communications in Information Literacy, 9(2), 102-110.
Jones, K. M., & Salo, D. (2017). Learning analytics and the academic lirary: Professional
ethics commitments at a crossroads. College & Research Libraries. Pre-print.
Kuhlthau, C. C. (2013). Rethinking the 2000 ACRL Standards: Some things to consider.
Communications in Information Literacy, 7(2), 92-97.
Seeber, K. P. (2015). THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING: Criticality and discussions of context in
ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy. Communications in Information Literacy, 9(2), 157-163.
Snavely, L., & Dewald, N. (2011). Developing and implementing peer review of academic
librarians’ teaching: an overview and case report. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37(4), 343-351.
Woxland, C. M., Cochran, D., Davis, E. L., & Lundstrom, K. (2017). Communal & student-
centered: Teaching information creation as a process with mobile technologies. Reference Services Review, 45(1), 79-99.