The ABC’s of Info Lit

I am working on a number of projects at work now, one of which is an information literacy programme. I recently proposed a framework and scheme of work to management and am developing the material now. The winds are favourable and hopefully this will move forward soon.

The project grew out observations of the wider library community and of my school. The wider library community, especially in university and school libraries, takes a big role in delivering information literacy skills training. Every school librarian I’ve talked to does something like this.  At my school I’ve talked with teachers and observed lessons in the library and information literacy is a big gap in the curriculum which no one at present is filling. So I see this an opportunity for me to better support teaching and learning and a natural expansion of my role.

My own experience of information literacy has been fairly extensive, the biggest example of which is probably my Masters dissertation on amateur musicians in Restoration London (2012). I joke that even though I am a trained researcher, I still can’t find stuff sometimes and use Google and Wikipedia all the time. But the point is I know where to start looking and how to evaluate information; this is not necessarily an intuitive skill…

Unfortunately all the reference books in the library were disposed of before my time, so I will be working mainly with online resources. I envision the IL skills to be a bookable resource where teachers book their class in for training related to a specific piece of work. These skills would then be transferable across the curriculum. Topics I’d live to cover include:

  • Beyond Google- how to search online
  • Referencing and the copy/paste culture
  • Evaluating sources for trustworthiness and credibility
  • Research skills for life (job hunting, careers, health, etc.)

A (real) example case in point:  a group of Year 11 science students had been sent in to work in the library. I went over to challenge them on some behaviour, and in the process I asked what they were working on. The project was researching the uses of ethanol and the worksheet gave various instances (ethanol in medicine, etc.) that they were supposed to fill in with information they’d found. They hadn’t gotten very far, so I asked why not? They said they didn’t know where to start looking for the information they needed.

This is why we need info lit- to be able to find and use the information we need. Talking with other school librarians tells me this will definitely be an uphill battle against ingrained habits, but I at least want to give it a shot! Will keep you posted.

Thanks to Darren Flynn and other school librarians for letting me re-use their material!


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