Module A Blog Post- Response to Peer Article on Class Bookmarking Site

 Article Reviewed: “Information Literacy: Undervalued or Ubiquitous- Peer to Peer Review”, Barbara Fisher, December 2011.

Barbara Fisher’s article entitled, “Information Literacy: Undervalued or Ubiquitous- Peer to Peer Review” discusses the Department of Education’s preliminary findings relative to a 2010 academic library statistical study. Steve Kolowich, a reporter/ curator for Inside Higher Ed magazine extracted some interesting information from the brief. His analysis revealed that academic libraries spent more money than in the previous year, but a lower amount was spent on individual students. Additionally, many academic libraries are cutting back on staff, spending less on print resources, and are redirecting this money to the purchase of ebooks and subscriptions to electronic journals, clearing houses, etc. These statistics may come as no surprise to those of us in education. The world wide web offers limitless possibilities for accessing information. However, what is shocking and truly depressing is that, “[s]lightly under a third of academic libraries report that information literacy is included in an institutional mission or strategic plan, the same percentage as in 2004. Perhaps even more dismaying, of institutions that mention information literacy in their strategic plan, only a quarter indicate that the library has a role to play.” (Fisher, 2010) Fisher questions why this is the case when virtually every library offers some form of information literacy program. She continues on to say that 2/3rd of these institutions do not even mention information literacy in their mission statement or strategic plan. If we know that students today are producing more researched writing than they did 20 years ago, shouldn’t this be an integral part of the plan? You would be hard pressed to find an educator or librarian that would argue that it should not. So what exactly is the deal? Fisher brings up the idea of job descriptions and the purported territorial conflict between teachers and librarians over this thing we call “information literacy” and the skills attached to it. She postulates that the conflict is the result of the “different lenses” that we look at “information literacy” through – i.e.the wide-angle holistic view vs. the discipline task oriented view. Her arguments make a tremendous amount of sense. As a historian, I train my students to work with sources in a particular way. However, the work I do with my students is grounded in basics that are reinforced in the academic library setting. She also states that library staff often, “have a better grasp than many faculty in the disciplines do of just how challenging it is to master several different ways of knowing in any one semester. We help students develop some all-purpose ways to approach any question, knowing that this will remain an important ability later in life. Faculty in the disciplines may be much more focused on polishing the particular lens through which they help students see the world, but being able to find, sort through, and use information is also very much a part of what they teach.” (Fisher, 2010) Though the medium, vehicle, or what have you may have changed- a skill is a skill. When is thinking critically ever going to go out of style? When did it become something to be taught in isolation in a particular discipline? Some may try to make a case that academic libraries are going the way of the dinosaur, but to me it is a matter of adapting what has been working for generations to the needs of the 21st century. A partnership between classroom teachers and the academic library staff is necessary to provide the students with an understanding of the skills they must have to succeed in a technology driven, global economy. Therefore, Fisher rightly states that an academic library survey is not enough to evaluate how and what our students need and are being taught. An institution wide survey and strategic plan where the library plays an integral role is what is needed. Sadly, reflecting on my own school I can see some similarities to the aforementioned 2/3rds.

5 thoughts on “Module A Blog Post- Response to Peer Article on Class Bookmarking Site

  1. When did it become something to be taught in isolation in a particular discipline?
    This is a major issue that needs to be corrected. For too long, many important skills have been isolated and taught on their own or within a single subject. Things like critical thinking, technology, and problem solving have been taught in bubbles and are only now being reintegrated into the various subjects. I see this more and more as I become involved in the NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation process – as a visiting committee member doing the evaluating and as a member of the steering committee preparing my own school for the re-accreditation process. My school is now identifying and documenting that we are, in fact, integrating these skills into our everyday classes.

  2. Oh the pains of NEASC! My school is now working on the problems which were identified by the visiting committee who toured our school. You are where I was a year ago. Our school took a hit for structural issues. We were put on warning! Several referendums have been shot down in the past. Now push has come to shove. We need this current referendum to go through to fix HVAC, space, and safety issues. The district has started a website (blog) to keep the community abreast of the situation. The following is the presentation that was given at a town wide meeting. Needless to say some parents are irate that the funding keeps getting denied. http://rockyhillhsproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/RockyHillHSJan30Presentation.pdf If you want to see depressing – check out the picture of our library media center!

    • Being involved in NEASC has been very eye opening. As an evaluator on the visiting committee, it was good to get a peek at how other schools operate. As a member of the steering committee at my own school, it’s scary to see where we fall short. There are so many things that we SHOULD have been doing since the last NEASC visit 10 years ago, but were never implemented. I wasn’t there back then, but I can see that the lack of action is really biting us in the rear right now. It’s tough and we’re still over a year away from our site visit!

  3. Mary:
    I agree with you in that “it is a matter of adapting what has been working for generations to the needs of the 21st century. A partnership between classroom teachers and the academic library staff is necessary to provide the students with an understanding of the skills they must have to succeed in a technology driven, global economy”. I strongly believe that teachers should work closely with librarians to teach 21st century skills.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Maureen Sweeney

  4. In this article, the author (Fisher) makes an interesting statement abou library staff; “have a better grasp than many faculty in the disciplines do of just how challenging it is to master several different ways of knowing in any one semester. We help students develop some all-purpose ways to approach any question, knowing that this will remain an important ability later in life. Faculty in the disciplines may be much more focused on polishing the particular lens through which they help students see the world, but being able to find, sort through, and use information is also very much a part of what they teach.” (Fisher, 2010) As a librarian, I work closely with classroom teachers on teaching information literacy skills in collaboration on specific topics they are covering in a research piece or lab. I find that this always brings it home alot better than teaching it in isolation. It has to be meaningful to the student and have a purpose, otherwise students will not invest the time or effort for meaningless information finding.

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