Library Committee Handbook

User Education Committee

User Education Committee Lunch Discussions Septmeber 28, 2000

Septmeber 28, 2000

Topic: Information Literacy

The following subjects were discussed during the User Education Lunch.

1) Life Long Learning There seems to be a push for life long learning for students and staff. If this is the focus, the students need to learn about accessing and assessing information in addition to manipulating the databases to get in-depth information. For those in user education, this means teaching the process and strategies of searching and of choosing between databases. This is particularly true when teaching undergraduates.

2) Active vs Passive Learning: In the graduate level English as a Second Language workshops provided by the Reference Library, there is 20 minutes at the end of class when students explore on the own, searching databases and experimenting with the search strategy process. This is very productive. They can "go fetch" specific information or work on a single research project. As librarians, we are interested in transferable skills. Some departments and consumers of our services are more interested in the end result and getting to particular information rather than learning 'how to get to' that particular information.

3) What does it mean to be Information-literate? One definition of information literacy would be to find or gain specific knowledge. The focus is on the end product. Is the choice of how someone teaches determined by the definition of information literacy? You decide what is important and then figure how to teach it. You teach students to distinguish between different types of databases used for different purposes depending on the result needed. This points to the difference between the bibliographic and the process approach to teaching and learning. The instructor should consider what will be the most useful for the student, especially considering the hour time limit for instruction.

4) The User Education Committee does not have a specific definition of literacy which could be presented as part of a strategic plan to present to the faculty.

5) Tours of the Library often give misinformation about the library (such as the Main Library is really the 'Graduate' Library). This misinformation then floats around campus and spreads to other students. The Admissions Office does tours with volunteers who are not trained. The Dean of Students does tours with Illini guides who do receive formal training. A goal would that all tour guides have similar training which has first been "approved" in some way by the libraries.

6) Public Relations regarding promoting the Library: We need to reach faculty as well as students