Information Literacy Summit 2009

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During ACRL, Dr. Lynn Silipigni Connaway, a Senior Researcher for OCLC, presented, ‘I would sort of appreciate a little more understanding’ Engaging Net Gen Students in Virtual Reference in which she discussed her study of the use of IM reference service in academic libraries.


Here are some of the highlights of her findings:

NetGens (those who had reported use of Virtual Reference):

  • Studies suggest they are not necessarily as technilogically savvy as we give them credit for being (Barry Dahl also discussed this in his keynote at the Distance Learning Conference.)
  • All reported that they were the least intimidated by VR
  • Consider email for “old people”
  • Most intimidated by the phone
  • Liked AskAway 24 hour service a lot
  • Affinity for instant access
  • Far more likely to recommend VR to others than older generations
  • Like to multitask while using VR
  • Concerned when doing asking questions through VR that librarians are multitasking and not giving good service.
  • Their biggest frustrations were when the librarian would conduct the same Google search they had already tried, when their questions were misunderstood, and slow connections/technology gliches
  • More trust for themselves and Google than librarians
  • Convenience considered most important
  • Wanted all info available electronically
  • 95% say VR access from home is imporant
  • Want repor with the librarian even in virtual realm, prefer working with specific known librarian
  • Good service is important to them
  • Many don’t know they need any help

Non-VR Users (Generally older generations):

  • Reported face-to-face reference assistance most popular, email next most popular
  • Majority had never used telephone reference
  • Most didn’t know VR existed or thought it was too complicated
  • Some familiar with chat from retail sites
  • Many afraid poor typing or computer skills will show, embarrased
  • Felt they needed more guidance, or someone to walk them through it in person
  • Thought asking questions by VR would bother librarian
  • Need to see examples of use, modeling, or to take a class in its use
  • Mistake it for an open forum where others can see what they are asking, concerned about confidentiality

What all users wanted:

  • extended hours of service
  • electronic information
  • friendly librarians
  • relationships with librarians

Gail Bush

Dr. Gail Bush is the Director of the School Library Program and the Center for Teaching through Children’s Books at National-Louis University. She delivered the Keynote, “The End of Information Literacy” at the Information Literacy Summit at Moraine Valley College on Mar 31, 2009.

Bush spoke about the changing socio-economic and information landscape and how information literacy fits into the way we use and rely information today. She brought up the definition of information literacy from the National Forum on Information Literacy which is 20 years old and states “the information literate person is, “able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use it effectively.” Interestingly, this is the same definition from which ECC’s information literacy gen ed outcome stems.

Bush questions whether this definition is still serves us in the changing atmosphere of information literacy. What does it mean now that even in the midst of casual conversation someone can whip out a Blackberry to resolve a disputed fact? How does info literacy fit in with media literacy, financial literacy, digital literacy, and visual literacy? When does it rank in terms of importance?

In 1983, Patrick Wilson wrote that most knowledge we gain is second hand and the first question people ask when trying to figure something out is “Who knows what about what?” Credibility was important. Is that still true today? In today’s climate, it seems there is no one in charge and that we have exchanged information systems that are sloppy in the microscale but provide maximum efficiency. Bush frames the tension between old and new as the Cognitive Authority Age (signified by the dictionary) versus the Probabilistic Age (Wikipedia). In the Probabilistic Age, the question shifts from “Who knows what about what?” to “Whose information is what and to whom does it belong?” She notes when Jimmy Wales decided to call Wikipedia an encyclopedia, it really highlighted this tension. Had he decided to call it anything other what we associate with an authoritative source, this conflict might not have seemed so accute.

Bush concludes that we are moving to a bigger more scattered world – from a central marketplace to a niche market (long tail) – and accuracy is no longer the most important thing to many users. They don’t like consulting disassociative sources. Bush calls for librarians to build up the trust with users that they no longer experience from most of their information sources and to impress upon them the importance of accuracy.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 At the Information Literacy Summit, Alejo Torres from the Federal Reserve spoke about Smart Money Week, a program that the Reserve and many colleges, libraries, schools and financial institutions have teamed up to do since 2002 to promote financial literacy. This year’s Smart Money Week will take place April 18-25, 2009 in the Chicago area and will feature a number of free seminars and activities to encourage people to manage their money responsibily. Torres is trying to promote this to colleges and colleges libraries because according to their studies, more students drop out of college because of finances than because of academic problems.

According to Torres, the benefits of the program are:

– promoting financial stability for citizens
– consumer empowerment
– no costs involved
– free publicity
– events must be free and open to the public, NO sales pitches
– however, you can have closed events for students

This is something we might consider for programming next year. If we contact Torres, he will help us arrange free speakers and activities geared toward college students.

more about “Smart Money Week“, posted with vodpod