In conversation with my husband. (Day 43/100)

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.

My favorite pre-print of 2017.

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.”

“About what?”

“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.”

One last view of the mountains as we headed south to Santa Fe.

“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.”

“Uh-huh. How?”

“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.”

Jacobson & Gibson, 2015, p. 108.

“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.

Photo of author’s spouse, age 33, April 15, 2017. At Meow Wolf in Santa Fe.



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.

I choose to be amazed. (Day 25/100)

When I started my LIS graduate program, I was 23 years old and I had just finished my bachelor’s degree at Oberlin College less than a year before. By the time I was 25, I was an adjunct professor at a community college, and I had a tenure-track job by the age of 27. Did I have any idea what it meant to be a professor, or how to navigate faculty culture? Did I have a clue what it would mean to try to navigate my role when other faculty didn’t see me as a peer? Of course not.

Beyond my time volunteering in the public library as a teenager and working at the Circulation desk at Oberlin, I had no professional experience in libraries when I started my LIS degree. As a result, a lot of the theory in the scholarly articles we read in my foundational classes was abstract to me. I was also working full-time while I was in school–as an HR specialist, not in a library. So it was hard to place the concepts we were learning into practice.

For these reasons, I think it’s perfect that I started my #100infolitarticlesin100days project with a series of articles about the relationship between academic librarians and faculty in colleges and universities. The more I think about it, the more I realize that this is exactly the kind of topic that would have made absolutely no sense to me when I was in grad school. Now that I’ve experienced these relationships first-hand for the past five years, I have a much better sense of what the authors are trying to investigate.


I read 16 articles over the past three weeks. For those of you keeping count at home, this means I’m a little bit behind pace to read 100 articles in 100 days (my deadline is June 20). I feel like I’m making good progress, especially considering the fact that I spent a good chunk of March traveling, presenting, and going to spin class. (I’m also hopeful that I’ll get a considerable amount of reading done next weekend when we take a road trip to Santa Fe–10 hours in the car should mean lots of time to read articles, right?)

Okay, so what were the big themes in the articles I read about faculty and librarian relationships?

  1. Faculty think information literacy skills are important, but are unlikely to collaborate with librarians in teaching information literacy.

  2. Faculty see librarians as highly valuable providers of stuff–but not as not teachers or peers (and whether or not librarians have faculty status doesn’t seem to matter a damn bit).

  3. Faculty culture emphasizes content knowledge over teaching practice.

  4. Librarians don’t publish articles in spaces where discipline faculty will read them.

  5. Depressingly, not much has changed over time.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

1. Faculty think information literacy skills are important, but are unlikely to collaborate with librarians in teaching information literacy.

The common denominator in all of these readings was Larry Hardesty’s 1995 article, “Faculty Culture and Bibliographic Instruction: An Exploratory Analysis.” This article wasn’t initially on my reading list, but it was cited by several other things I read, so I knew I had to read it–and I’m so glad I did. Right away, Hardesty contextualizes the librarian-faculty relationship struggle within the long history of libraries. He includes quotes from 1940s and 1950s where academic librarians lament their collections going unused–because students didn’t know how to use them, and because faculty didn’t integrate library-related work in their courses (Hardesty, 1995, p. 342). Sound familiar?

Fast forward several decades. In the Spring of 2011, Sharon Weiner at Purdue University surveyed faculty to find out how they teach information literacy skills–by themselves, with a librarian collaborator, through a teaching assistant, or not at all (because students should already know). Weiner sent a survey to 2,554 faculty and received 299 responses which overwhelmingly showed that “faculty in the disciplines generally teach information literacy competencies to undergraduate students without collaborating with others on their campus” (Weiner, 2014, p. 5). Fewer than 10% of respondents indicated that they collaborated with librarians to teach any information literacy concepts in their courses (Weiner, 2014, p. 7).

2. Faculty see librarians as highly valuable providers of stuff–but not as not teachers or peers (and whether or not librarians have faculty status doesn’t seem to matter a damn bit).

Carolyn Caffrey Gardner and Jamie White-Farnham’s 2013 article, “‘She Has a Vocabulary I Just Don’t Have’: Faculty Culture and Information Literacy Collaboration” includes an anecdote about an angry instructor who “felt her classroom was being infiltrated” (p. 239) by programmatic information literacy instruction. In this case, the librarian (an information literacy coordinator) was a tenure-track assistant professor–but that didn’t have an impact on the course faculty who still felt boundaries were being crossed by the collaborative relationship. Atif Yousef surveyed faculty at Zarka University in Jordan and found that professors were most interested in collaborating with librarians…to provide input on collection development. Laura Saunders interviewed twenty-five faculty about information literacy as a student learning outcome, and one of her respondents openly doubted librarians’ ability to teach because they are “not trained” (2012, p. 231).

3. Faculty culture emphasizes content knowledge over teaching practice.

The lack of attention to pedagogy is a significant focus of Hardesty’s article. He writes at length about the fact that “teaching is not highly discussed among faculty” (Hardesty, 1995, p. 349). William Badke also acknowledges that librarians won’t gain much traction trying to change the teaching practices of course faculty, which is why he suggests that the path forward for librarians is to create our own credit-bearing information literacy courses and teach them ourselves. He is so optimistic about this. “True,” he writes, “it will take time” (2005, p. 78). It’s been 12 years since the publishing of his article and I’ve yet to see the dramatic growth of credit-bearing courses that he anticipated.

One thing that has changed, though, is the rapid expansion of teaching support on college and university campuses. My last workplace had a Center for Engagement and Excellence and my current university has a Center for Faculty Development. Both units specialize in encouraging faculty across disciplines to engage in discussions around pedagogy, learning, and instructional design. The tide may slowly be shifting to acknowledge that teaching requires an additional skill set beyond depth of content knowledge.

Bury, S. (2011). Faculty attitudes, perceptions and experiences of information literacy: a study across multiple disciplines at York University, Canada. Journal of Information Literacy, 5(1), 45-64.

4. Librarians don’t publish articles in spaces where discipline faculty will read them.

The librarians whose articles I read repeatedly expressed their irritation with the fact that librarians don’t write articles for audiences of discipline faculty. I suppose the underlying notion is that faculty will respect librarians more if we publish in their journals. Again and again, authors lamented the fact that librarians only write for other librarians…while publishing their librarian-authored works in library-specific journals. (For example, the first page of the article by Laura Saunders, published in The Journal of Academic Librarianship, includes a sentence that says, “The vast majority of writing about information literacy comes from the LIS literature, and is written from the librarian’s perspective” [Sanders, 2012, p. 226].) Apparently we have no sense of irony, either. If you look at the references below, you’ll note that most of the articles I read were published in library journals like The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Reference Services Review, and Reference and User Services Quarterly. There is one exception: Sharon Weiner’s article in College Teaching.

5. Depressingly, not much has changed over time.

There’s a reason that Hardesty’s 22-year-old article is so popular: it has staying power.

Hardesty, L. (1995). Faculty culture and bibliographic instruction: an exploratory analysis. Library Trends, 44(2), 339-368.

At the end of my information literacy instruction sessions, I like to use this reflective question: What will you do differently based on what you learned today?

I’m going to turn that question on myself: what will I do differently now that I’ve read these  16 articles about librarian-faculty relationships?

A few thoughts:

  • I see myself as a teacher, and I always will, even if I someday don’t work for a college or have the title of “professor”–it’s just who I am and what I do. But, after reading these articles, I have a better appreciation for the concept of “faculty culture” and how my teaching identity exists outside of the faculty ecosystem. I can’t expect other folks, especially discipline faculty, to understand that my role as a librarian and a teacher is intertwined. I think the long arc of my career will put me in situations where I’ll have to decide if it’s worth my time to try to prove myself as a teacher.
  • I am so in love with phenomenographic research. I know I read Christine Bruce’s phenomenographic research about the seven faces of information literacy when I was in graduate school but I definitely did not understand the importance of phenomenography as a methodology. Several articles in this mix used phenomenography, including Boon, Johnston, and Webber who do a particularly fantastic job of explaining the methodology. Cope and Sanabria use it very effectively in their 2014 article.
  • We are relentlessly optimistic. Every article I read, even if it confirmed previous (disheartening) findings, remained optimistic about the future of information literacy instruction in higher education. I feel like I have a much better perspective now on just how rapidly the landscape has changed. Consider this: Library Orientation Exchange (LOEX) began in 1971. “Bibliographic instruction” is now considered outdated term, but it was an emerging concept for most of the ’80s and ’90s. The ACRL Standards for Information Literacy were approved in 2000 and stuck around until they were old enough to get a driver’s license. Now it’s 2017 and we have the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, Google Scholar, SciHub, metaliteracy, Immersion, Library Instruction West, Twitter chats, critical information literacy pedagogy, and wild job titles like Pedagogy and Assessment Librarian.

Goodness, what a time to be alive. So, I could choose to look back at the articles I’ve read and feel bummed about the state of librarian-faculty relationships, or I could choose to sit back in awe, imagining what developments I might see in a lifetime career in information literacy.

I choose to be amazed.

Hot take: If you could only read three of these articles, I would recommend Hardesty’s 1995 original sauce, the phenomenographic study by Boon, Johnston, and Webber, and Bury’s 2016 article in Reference Services Review.

You can find the rest of my reading list here.

Boon, S., Johnston, B., & Webber, S. (2007). A phenomenographic study of English faculty’s conceptions of information literacy. Journal of Documentation, 63(2), 204-228.


Badke, W. B. (2005). Can’t get no respect: Helping faculty to understand the educational power of information literacy. The Reference Librarian, 43(89-90), 63-80.

Boon, S., Johnston, B., & Webber, S. (2007). A phenomenographic study of English faculty’s conceptions of information literacy. Journal of Documentation, 63(2), 204-228.

Bury, S. (2011). Faculty attitudes, perceptions and experiences of information literacy: a study across multiple disciplines at York University, Canada. Journal of Information Literacy, 5(1), 45-64.

Bury, S. (2016). Learning from faculty voices on information literacy: Opportunities and challenges for undergraduate information literacy education. Reference Services Review, 44(3), 237-252. doi:10.1108/RSR-11-2015-0047

Cope, J., & Sanabria, J. E. (2014). Do we speak the same language?: A study of faculty perceptions of information literacy. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 14(4), 475-501. doi:10.1353/pla.2014.0032

Cunningham, S., Carr, A., & Brasley, S. S. (2011). Uncovering the IL disconnect: Examining expectations among librarians, faculty and students. Association of College and Research Libraries Conference.

Gardner, C. C., & White-Farnham, J. (2013). “She has a vocabulary I just don’t have”: Faculty culture and information literacy collaboration. Collaborative Librarianship, 5(4), 235.

Gullikson, S. (2006). Faculty perceptions of ACRL’s information literacy competency standards for higher education. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32(6), 583-592.

Hardesty, L. (1995). Faculty culture and bibliographic instruction: an exploratory analysis. Library Trends, 44(2), 339-368.

Hardesty, L. (1999). Reflections on 25 years of library instruction: have we made progress?. Reference Services Review, 27(3), 242-246.

McGuinness, C. (2006). What faculty think–exploring the barriers to information literacy development in undergraduate education. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32(6), 573-582.

Meer, P., Perez-Stable, M., & Sachs, D. (2012). Framing a strategy exploring faculty attitudes toward library instruction and technology preferences to enhance information literacy. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 52(2), 109-122. doi:10.5860/rusq.52n2.109

Nutefall, J. E., & Ryder, P. M. (2010). The Timing of the Research Question: First-Year Writing Faculty and Instruction Librarians’ Differing Perspectives. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 10(4), 437-449.

Saunders, L. (2012). Faculty perspectives on information literacy as a student learning outcome. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 38(4), 226-236.

Weiner, S. A. (2014). Who teaches information literacy competencies? Report of a study of faculty. College Teaching, 62(1), 5-12. doi:10.1080/87567555.2013.803949

Yousef, A. (2010). Faculty attitudes toward collaboration with librarians. Library Philosophy and Practice.

I want your fight: On shame and #ACRL2017

This isn’t what I wanted to write about.

When I envisioned my blog post that would sum up my experience at ACRL2017 in Baltimore, I was hoping to write about things like sitting front row for Roxane Gay’s keynote, having lunch with my mentee, attending sessions about the devaluing of feminized labor and the problems with grit/resilience narratives, presenting my poster, and closing out a karaoke bar.

Instead, I have to write about this:

On Saturday morning (after closing out aforementioned karaoke bar), the very last session I attended was a contributed paper by librarians from Westminster College titled, “In a World Where… Librarians Can Access Final Research Projects Via The LMS.” Erin Smith, Taylor Eloise Stevens, John Garrison, and Jamie Kohler co-presented the paper, which outlines their institution’s unique experience with merged IT/Library departments. Librarians are Learning Management System administrators who have access to course content, including student research papers in the first-year writing program. The librarians provide information literacy instruction through a “library week” module which teaches students how to find and read sources on a pre-selected topic.

Apparently, librarians thought that students’ final work was very amusing. On one of the slides, they had a list of quotes from student papers that were clearly meant to poke fun at students’ ignorance (e.g., look at this student who tried to write a paper on the history of African-Americans in four pages, hur hur!). On the closing slide of the presentation, they referred to their students as “sweet dum-dums” who would “get there”; I took a picture of the slide and shared it on Twitter.


When the presentation closed and the panel asked for questions, I was too exhausted to bring up their choice of language regarding their students. Honestly, I just wanted to get to the ballroom to get a seat for Carla Hayden’s closing keynote, and I promised myself I would follow up with an email to the presenters later.


On Monday, the Associate Dean of Library & Information Services, Erin Smith, posted an apology to Twitter using her account. This surprised me because I did look for her Twitter account on Saturday but I couldn’t find it, so I assumed she didn’t have one. When I messaged her directly to learn how she found the tweets about their presentation, she said that was tipped off to the situation through a text from a friend.



Today she sent a “public” apology e-mail to several librarians, including me, in which she implored us to reach beyond the “Librarian Twittersphere” to engage colleagues who make errors like this one. She still did not explain how they ended up using the “dum-dum” phrase in their presentation, or why they continue to use it to describe themselves (#wearethedumdums).


Many people are lauding Smith for being brave enough to acknowledge the mistake and apologize. I recognize the courage it takes to face this criticism head on and I admire it. However, I do not yet feel that this situation is fully resolved.

This e-mail is not a public apology.

E-mail inboxes are not public spaces. If the intent of the e-mail is to be a public apology, it should be posted in a public forum, preferably on the Westminster College website. It would seem that the Westminster College Library expects the 40 recipients of the e-mail to do the work of making the apology public. [Edited to add: I see that Smith has posted the letter on Twitter as a response to someone else, which is a good start in making the apology public.]

As far as I know, Westminster College Library has not yet apologized to the right people.

The librarians who presented this paper made jokes at their students’ expense. The people who deserve an apology are not other librarians. The people who deserve an apology are their students, along with course faculty and other administrators who gave librarians access to student work samples. Unless I’m mistaken, the librarians have not apologized to the students whose work was the basis for this contributed paper. As a student learning assessment librarian, I am particularly upset that librarians were entrusted with student work for the purpose of improving information literacy instruction–and instead Westminster College librarians used a national conference as a forum to mock their students’ learning.

#LibraryTwitter isn’t just snark.

In her e-mail, Smith said that she and co-presenters almost didn’t find out about the comments made about their presentation on Twitter because none of them are active in that space. So, if I understand correctly, Smith is upset that she might miss out on critical comments made in forums where she isn’t active.

If she doesn’t like things being said behind her back, how does she think her students would feel knowing that their research papers were fodder for librarian laughter at a professional conference?

When I was asked on Twitter who presented the slide, I readily provided the contact information for Westminster College and Erin Smith. I intended for this situation to move off Twitter-land and into real life, and I knew it would be the beginning of a much longer conversation. I know that Smith feels ashamed. I know her apology is sincere, if a little off-key (e.g., stop perpetuating the ableist term “dum-dum”, please). The great thing about shame is that it’s temporary.

In Roxane Gay’s keynote, she talked about this age of American disgrace. White people often tell her that they feel ashamed.

“I don’t want your shame,” she said. “I want your fight.”

We don’t need more shame. We need to fight. I want the Westminster College librarians to fight for their students, to protect them, to love them, to rage on their behalf, and to care as very deeply for their students as they say that they do.

Smith said that she and her librarians were surprised by their assessment results. In a message to me, she explained that they did not realize how “unprepared” their students are. In her e-mail, she said the librarians’ expectations were a “mis-match” with students’ abilities.

Here’s my take: it is not the students who were unprepared for learning. It was the librarians who were unprepared for teaching.

Applying the Framework to an Online Credit-Bearing Information Literacy Course

This page provides supplemental materials related to my poster presentation on Friday, March 24 at #ACRL2017 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Course Syllabus

Fisher – INFO 101 – Summer 2016 Syllabus

Example Assignments

Examples of Assigned Readings


What is INFO 101: Research Essentials?

INFO 101 is a two-credit online information literacy course offered at Pierce College in Washington State. I worked at Pierce from 2012 to 2016 and taught INFO 101 several times. In Summer 2016, I updated my curriculum to integrate the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

How did you use the Framework in your course?

I used the Framework in several ways. What I think is most important is the fact that I asked students to directly interact with the language used in the Framework and to consider its applications in their learning.

For example:

  • The six frames and their definitions were included in my syllabus.
  • Each week in the eight-week course was a module based on a particular frame. The modules were labeled in the online classroom with the names of the frames.
  • In each module, I provided the definition of the frame we were discussing that week and a brief explanation of how our learning activities connected to that frame.
  • For their final reflection paper, students were asked to answer, “Which two frames had the biggest impact on your learning?”

 How did using the Framework change your teaching?

I found that using the Framework helped me focus my learning activities and assessments to emphasize conceptual understanding over skill-based knowledge. Students still completed many skill-based activities (like attempting searches in Google and in subscription databases, and comparing the differences), but the Framework provided a lens through which we could come to shared meaning about those activities. I found myself doing more work to tie all of our work back to the bigger picture, and that felt like a good thing.

Can you give some examples of other things that students did in your course, and how those activities related to the frames?

In the Information Has Value module, students read an article about Aaron Swartz, who hacked MIT servers to download articles from JSTOR and faced severe legal consequences for his actions, and an article about the cost of academic journal subscriptions. We talked about the many meanings of the word “value”—how it might be valuable to know something (because valuable information might change your beliefs or decisions), but we also talked about the monetary meaning of value, and how expensive it can be to access research. Most students were shocked to learn that research articles are not free, and that libraries have to pay for online resources. One student told me they assumed everything in the library had been donated for free.

In the Authority is Constructed and Contextual module, I provided a worksheet with several types of sources for students to review with questions that required them to evaluate which sources would be most appropriate for an academic research paper. In my feedback on that assignment, I made the point that different sources have different purposes; a book review is not a bad source of information, but it is too brief and general to advance an argument in a research paper.

In the Searching as Strategic Exploration module, students read an article from The Washington Post about Google being faulted for racial bias in its image search results. In the article, Sofiya Noble (a professor and researcher at UCLA who studies bias in algorithms and computing) asks, “If Google is not responsible for its algorithm, who is?” Many students did not realize that Google operates on advertising revenue, nor that its algorithm brings back results based on popularity. We also talked about the lack of diversity among Google’s employees; if Google is mostly male and white (and only 2% of Google’s workforce is Black), how does that impact the way they build their products and set their priorities?

How did students react to the Framework? Weren’t they confused?

Students were not confused at all—thanks to lots of repetition and examples! I was extremely pleased with my students’ performance and their engagement with the text of the Framework. In their discussion board posts, assignments, and final reflection papers, each student articulated their understanding of the frames. I was particularly impressed by their meaningful and personal responses when I asked them to reflect on the frames in their final reflection paper. I went back through those papers and tallied up which frames they picked as having the most impact on their learning. You can see the results below. Overall, the most popular frame was Searching as Strategic Exploration (10 out of 14 students picked this as one of their top two frames), followed by Authority is Constructed and Contextual (identified by 7 out of 14 students as one of their top two frames).


Can I see your syllabus and your assignments? Can I adapt or modify your materials?

Yes, yes, and yes! My entire course is available for download in the Canvas Commons, but that only works well if you’re using Canvas as the LMS at your campus. You can find my syllabus here: Fisher – INFO 101 – Summer 2016 Syllabus for ACRL2017 You can also e-mail me with questions or ideas:

day 1/100.

Today is the first day of my project to read 100 information literacy articles in 100 days. My very imperfect reading list is mostly finalized, with big thanks to everyone who commented and provided helpful suggestions, including Meredith Farkas, Eamon Tewell, Elise Ferer, and others (including folks who noticed a couple of duplicate readings–oops). This is why this has to be a team project.

Since I announced this endeavor, I’ve heard a few comments like, “Wow, that’s great, I wish I had the time to do that!” The truth is, I don’t have the time to do this, either, but I’m doing it anyway. Or I’m going to try, at least. I’m doing this to start a conversation and you can be part of it, even if you don’t read any of the articles that I read. I don’t know yet what will happen, but I’m hoping that the process takes me somewhere unexpected.

March madness

You know that thing where you say yes to a bunch of things, and then all those things happen at the same time? That’s the month of March for me.

Tomorrow I’m leading a lunch-and-learn workshop for the CU Denver Center for Faculty Development about literacy and later in the afternoon, I’m teaching a 3000-level class how to find caselaw, then on Friday I fly to Seattle where I’ll present at a conference twice. I’m taking an online class through ALA this month that started today and I’m presenting a poster at #ACRL2017 in Baltimore. And I decided to read 100 articles about information literacy in 100 days, starting next Monday. Oof.

By the way, you are warmly invited to comment on the working draft of my reading list here.

I started off the month with a fantastic online panel about fake news and information literacy moderated by the student chapter of the American Library Association at the University of Washington iSchool. I was joined on the panel by Martin Garnar, Susan Hildreth, and Sarah Houghton. We had a robust and interesting discussion which was recorded; you can read the transcript or watch the recording of the panel here. Many thanks to Lauren Seegmiller and Christina Miskey for their hard work organizing the panel and developing thoughtful discussion questions.

This weekend I’ll be at the Reading Apprenticeship regional conference at Renton Technical College. On Friday I’m presenting a workshop about metacognition and the student research paper process, and on Saturday I’ll lead a session about assessing Reading Apprenticeship activities in the classroom. I’m excited to reconnect with many of my Washington state community college friends, most of whom I haven’t seen since I left Pierce College in July last year.

And I hope you know that whatever you’re doing these days, it’s enough, and you are enough, and you are making a difference in the lives of the people you care about, and they’ve got your back.


Featured image is a glazed chocolate donut, photo courtesy of author before the donut went in her mouth and was never seen again.






100 information literacy articles in 100 days.

I don’t know when the idea popped into my head. It probably seeped into my subconscious between my second and third gin and tonic with Kevin Seeber when he name-dropped yet another author I had not yet read, or mentioned some journal I wasn’t familiar with. (Yes, we do like to mix our gin with shop talk.)

But I can’t shake it.

I want to read 100 information literacy articles in 100 days. And write (at least) ten blog posts about them.


Well, why not?

I’ve been an information literacy librarian for five years now. I began my career as an instruction librarian when Lower Columbia College in Longview, Washington hired me in January 2012. And since then, I’ve changed jobs three times, I’ve taught hundreds of one-shot instructions, I’ve taught quarter-long classes for credit, and I’ve answered lots and lots of questions that start with, “Do you work here? Can you help me with my assignment? I need to find some articles…”

In all that time, I’ve never really had a chance to step back and look at what people are writing, saying, thinking, and theorizing about information literacy.

It’s not that I never read articles about information literacy. I do read as much as I can, but I was a community college librarian for four years and I barely had time to breathe, let alone sit and ponder the state of the literature in my field. As a graduate student, I dutifully read the articles assigned by my professors, but it all seemed so abstract then.

It’s one thing to read about information literacy. It’s a whole other thing to actually teach information literacy.

I’m an instruction librarian, so I better approach this with some outcomes, right?

By the end of this (possibly foolish) endeavor, I hope to:

  • Identify trends in information literacy instruction and assessment
  • Develop counter-arguments to dominant narratives in information literacy theory
  • Evaluate and analyze various perspectives on information literacy

So, the first thing I have to do is build my reading list. This is where you come in—if you have any readings to recommend, please send them to me for consideration.  E-mail is fine: ztrope / gmail, etc.

What counts as an information literacy article for the purposes of this project? I’m mostly interested in scholarly articles, published whenever (no specific date range, although I want to include a mix of older and contemporary pieces). I will also include some popular articles as well (especially newspaper and magazine articles published in the last year or so about fake news and digital literacy).

I plan to finalize my reading list by Friday, March 10, and start reading the articles on Monday, March 13. A hundred days later is June 20, the summer solstice. We can celebrate the longest day of the year together with one final blog post about my project, written with flowers in my hair, a white candle burning on my desk, and a large glass of pinot grigio (with a few ice cubes) at my side.

Sound good? Let’s go.