I wrote recently that the rate of media illiteracy is the information crisis of our time (“Faked Out,” School Library Journal, 1/17, p. 6), but now that very real issue has nonetheless been trumped by a full-on deliberate assault on the flow of information—from journalism and scientific research to dissemination via social media and traditional channels. There is no such thing as an alternate fact, but there is certainly an alternate reality: a chilling, censorial, obfuscating one being offered as a threatening new normal by the new federal administration in the first days and weeks of 2017.
Heather Moorefield-Lang has witnessed the face of freshman terror when the first-year students walk into the college library at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, are confronted by two million books, and don’t know where to start. As an assistant professor at the School of Library and Information Sciences, she knows that relieving that angst is her job.
Markers of Quality: The Role of Librarians in Everyday Life Information Literacy | Peer to Peer Review
We spend a lot of time talking about various forms of literacy. Various approaches have risen up and faded quickly—transliteracy, metaliteracy, etc.—but the idea remains: How can everyday folks navigate a continually plugged in, all-access world? I think of these skills as life literacies or simply how we make sense of the world.
Like many academic librarians, after completing the marathon of the traditional school year, we often use the summer semester to reflect, revise, and plan for the upcoming fall. In the summer of 2012, during a casual conversation in which we shared stories about rewarding reference interactions, we stumbled upon an “a-ha moment,” discovering an opportunity to connect targeted library outreach with an underserved user group. During this exchange, we realized how much we both enjoy working with adult learners and how they always seem genuinely interested in gaining skills to make themselves better library users, and therefore better students. This conversation became the catalyst for an idea of a library course designed specifically for adult learners returning to the classroom.
The 2016 presidential primary activity and election may provide libraries with an unmatched opportunity to show their stuff. As candidates officially jump into the race, voters are already inundated by an unprecedented volume of information and perspectives—not to mention the onslaught of misinformation and distractions. As the pace heats up, potential voters will need help engaging in the process, and voters will need more help than ever sorting out the facts on the real issues and learning what they need to make their own decisions.
So many ideas can be sparked by coincidental juxtaposition. In the past few weeks, I have been thinking about the intersections between scholarly communications and information literacy. This was largely because I was part of a panel at the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Conference about the task force charged with implementing the 2013 White Paper on the topic. My specific task was to discuss how the new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education illuminated the approach we called for in the white paper. On top of these concerns came the Blurred Lines copyright case, which was all over the media in the past few weeks, and about which I have been asked my opinion repeatedly. Can these different strands be woven into a coherent idea?
The great debate has come to a truce: The new Framework for Information Literacy has been adopted, but will not replace the familiar information literacy Standards, at least for now. This probably frustrates people who strongly support (or oppose) one or the other, but it gives us a chance to work out some sticky issues without anyone feeling that they lost.