Michele Burke found the process of building bridges to aid information literacy instruction occasionally meant feeling a little uncomfortable and a little intimidated. She says this taught her that success lies in putting aside the ego and focusing on a common goal: serving college students.
“I’m going into it assuming that this is going to be a really rich conversation, and I’m going to assume that you’re thinking it’s going to be a really rich conversation,” says Burke, the driver and outgoing chair of the Information Literacy Advisory Group of Oregon (ILAGO).
Her attitude of respect and willingness to listen has made her a major player among Oregon’s academic librarians in their statewide effort to create shared information literacy standards and desire to improve consistency across varied institutions and curricula. Burke’s peers say that she has kept the conversation going and took it to writing professors through the Oregon Writing & English Advisory Committee (OWEAC), which held similar conversations simultaneously.
“You just have to have the belief that someone should work on it and maybe that somebody should be me,” says Burke, incoming chair of the Oregon Library Association’s (OLA) Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT).
Much of Burke’s work occurs through professional library associations’ round tables and summits, including ILAGO, LIRT, and the state’s Information Literacy Summit. To aid communication about information literacy efforts across professional groups, she created blogs for ILAGO and OWEAC and continues to administer and contribute to both.
“She is so organized and top-notch, and she just does a good job,” says Kate Rubick, instruction services librarian at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR, and the outgoing LIRT chair. There are also those who describe Burke as the linchpin behind the statewide information literacy efforts.
As a result, instructors and students at Oregon’s higher education institutions, whether they are public or private, two- or four-year schools, can expect similar instructional outcomes, Rubick says. Burke’s next step is to welcome into the information literacy conversation the members of the Oregon Association of School Libraries, which recently merged with OLA.
Burke’s work leading Oregon’s clarification of information literacy instruction standards will have a real-world impact, Rubick says. “The [end product is] in a broader context, concerning lifelong learning and what it means to be a literate learner in today’s society,” Rubick says.
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