Praise from a professional

Daniel Russell is a researcher at Google. Some of us may have taken his MOOC of Search ReSearch. A scholar, scientist, and an expert online searcher, Dr. Russell regards library highly and speaks of librarian with respect. “I have many reasons to use my local library-but perhaps the best is that it’s a place where I always learn something.”

“Reference Librarians. They’re excellent resources of information and a source of research skills. When you go to your public library, be sure to chat with the reference librarians. They are, in essence, professional SearchReseachers. They know all kinds of things that are key to finding information (both online and offline) in places and in ways you might not have thought about.” For full text, read his blog post:

5 reasons you should have a library card

“reference librarians are both incredibly well-informed about the infoverse AND incredibly happy to tell you everything they know in order to make you a better researcher. I like that. I like it a lot–they’re not out to make a dime from every transaction, but they’re genuine saints who want nothing more than to teach you how to do the search on your own and make you self-sufficient.” Full text:

Why libraries?

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The current status

To keep up with the progress of redefining IL, Keiser’s detailed report on ACRL’s work is rather helpful. (Barbie E. Keiser is an information resources management consultant located in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area.)

Reimagining Information Literacy Competencies




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“Change Literacy” and the future libraries

Brian Mathews of Virginia Tech suggests to put “change [as a noun] literacy” into consideration for the ongoing revision of definition of Information Literacy. Change literacy is, describes Mathews, “the ability to anticipate, create, adapt, and deal with change (in the broadest since) [sense, I’d guess] as a vital fluency for people today.” The rationale is “If we treat change as a literary [literacy, I’d guess] then we can better prepare students for the challenges they will face tomorrow.” Despite the somewhat awkward term, Mathews’ view of “change literacy” reflects the evolving concept of literacy. His blog post about it can be viewed at

On a separate topic, a recent essay by the same author, “Librarian as Futurist: Changing the Way Libraries Think about the Future” appears in July 2014 issue of portal. He advocates “What will libraries be in the future? They will become whatever their users need.” His statement, while inspiring, has raised questions: how do we decide user’s actual need (in what scope and at what level(s))? Who decides user’s need (user-initiated or librarian-initiated or both)? These are the issues that deserve to be discussed.

Citation: portal: Libraries and the Academy, Volume 14, Number 3, July 2014 pp. 453-462.

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Intentional Informationists

Among the 2013 top twenty articles recommended by ALA Library Instruction Round Table, <> Hoffmann and Wallace’s “Intentional Informationists” is of particular interest. [See citation below] The case study depicts IL practice at California State University-Channel Islands, a young institution of ten years history (as of the time the article was written). Their goal is to shift “the emphasis from literate to informed, from passive receptors of information to intentional users and consumers of information.” The authors define an “intentional informationist” as a person with “the contextual, reflective and informational skills to identify information opportunities, tackle complex information problems and pitfalls, and provide solutions or considerations that do not just meet her individual needs.” (Full text can be retrieved in ScienceDirect)

Hoffmann, Debra, and Amy Wallace. “Intentional informationists: Re-envisioning information literacy and re-designing instructional programs around faculty librarians’ strengths as campus connectors, information professionals, and course designers.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 39.6 (2013): 546-551.


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What the leaders think about IL

Released today, Ithaka S+R US Library Survey 2013 reports that library directors (chief librarians in CUNY’s term) were nearly unanimous in saying that teaching research skills and information literacy to undergraduates was a very important part of their mission.

One of the issues is practical: staffing, as we all face it and deal with it. Some libraries with more human resources cope better. We at York have to re-schedule or even cancel some IL sessions due to the shortage of staff. An encouraging trend revealed by the survey indicates ” Forty-two percent of respondents at baccalaureate colleges said they planned to expand staffing in instruction, instructional design, and information-literacy services over the next five years, as did 44 percent at doctoral universities and 53 percent at master’s-level institutions.” (quote from The Chronicle report on the survey).

Jennifer Howard of The Chronicle of Higher Education summarizes the survey results in Chronicle’s Wired Campus page:

What Matters to Academic-Library Directors? Information Literacy:


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Transliteracy for Next Generation Students: Academic and Everyday

Transliteracy for Next Generation Students: Academic and Everyday

My colleagues Anamika Megwalu and Christina Miller are accepted to present one of the four breakout sessions at the Information Literacy Summit, sponsored by DePaul University Library and Moraine Valley Community College Library, on April 25, 2014 at Moraine Valley Community College (near Chicago). Here is the description of their presentation.

Title of Workshop: Next Generation Literacy: Connecting the Everyday to the Academic

Description: New technologies and ideologies, and the deconstruction of traditional boundaries in learning, have led to the confluence of ‘everyday’ and academic learning and the need for a re-conceptualization of what it means to be information literate. The presenters design their information literacy sessions, for college and high school students, with an eye toward helping students acquire transliteracy – that is, the ability to derive value and create transferable knowledge through the use of a multitude of digital platforms and information sources.

Attendees of this interactive workshop will participate in two exercises designed to foster transliteracy and change learning dispositions. Prof. Megwalu will present an activity based on Analogical Reasoning that encourages college students to begin their research work with familiar web sources such as Wikipedia, blogs, and social networking and file sharing sites, before they use academic databases. Prof. Miller will demonstrate a standards (AASL/CCSS)-based exercise used in a high school science research class; students learn about scientific research by reading about studies in the popular media before they use the library’s databases. Such activities encourage next generation students to exploit everyday information sources for their academic work.


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Thinking and re-thinking

James M. Lang, an associate professor of English and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption College, questions the use of the popular term “lifelong learning” in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Advice section.

The author believes all human beings with working brains are lifelong learners, and takes on [the over-use of] “lifelong learning”, which, in his words, “accomplishes little and means less”.

Posting this does not mean I am totally for the author’s opinion, after all, motivating and educating lifelong learner is our ultimate goal. We ought to be open-minded. Reading different viewpoints helps us think and rethink and act upon our own mission.

One of the comments, presumably coming from a librarian, views our current practice in library instruction is “anti-lifelong-learning” due to its passive, course-driven nature, e.g. teaching the database that the faculty insists on. S/He went on to suggest that we should teach some true information literacy contents such as how to search Google and Google Scholar. (I would add open access databases for the same reason.) For this, I am totally for.

Here is the article link:

Enough with the ‘Lifelong Learning’ Already

by James M. Lang

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ACRL’s IL standards to be updated

In June 2013,  Steven J. Bell (the immediate past president of ACRL 2012-13) reported in ACRL’s blog that because the current standards “are showing their age”, a special task force was established to update the standards and expand the definition of information literacy. The revision, according to the co-chairs of the task force, will be less overwhelming and more flexible (no library jargon, thus, understandable to other disciplines). “Information fluency” was mentioned in the charge of the task force; multiple literacies (transliteracy, media literacy, digital literacy, visual literacy, etc.) are to be included; and student’s role as content creator will be addressed.

For more information:

Rethinking ACRL’s Information Literacy Standards: The Process Begins

Task Force Prospectus on Work Plan

ACRL Board of Directors’ Response to Task Force Prospectus

Report of the Standards Review Task Force

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The White Paper on Facilitating Discovery of Free Online Content

More and more free web resources are available. As we always expect, some are not so good, some are good, and some are really good. The availability of free web resources has become an important issue that librarians have to deal with. A recent white paper commissioned by Taylor & Francis reveals current status. Key findings, to quote from Taylor & Francis, are:


Research Headlines

  • 92% of librarians agree that free online resources are ‘very important’
  • Librarians feel they are well-placed to provide expertise in free content selection and discovery
  • 84% of respondents said that 10% or less of their time was currently devoted to indexing free online content
  • Key challenges for librarians relating to making free resources more discoverable within their institutions are: volume  growth, unknown permanence, and difficulties relating to quality assessment;
  • The most important criteria for selection of free online access was relevance of that content to the institution’s activities  but brand and reputation factors were also key.
  • Librarians are already investing in understanding their user community needs and in developing their catalogue interfaces accordingly.


To read the White Paper:

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The Evolution of Library Instruction

My colleague John Drobnicki posted this on our library’s list. I thought I should share with you. Andy Burkhardt outlines three stages in the evolution of library instruction: bibliographic instruction, information literacy, and information sophistication. Read more at:

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