Tag Archives: information literacy

library time

There’s not enough of it:

Academic librarians are eager to offer sessions for students on what we call “research education.” But the mistaken assumption that students don’t need it means that many professors don’t ask us to meet with their students, or even respond to our enthusiastic offers to lead such sessions. Students don’t need to be taught anything about working online, because they were practically born digital, right?

Research education is not tools education. Research education involves getting students to understand how information is organized physically in libraries, as well as electronically in library catalogs and in powerful, sometimes highly specialized commercial databases. It means teaching students to search effectively online to identify the most relevant and highest-quality books, articles, microform sets, databases, even free Web resources.

Knowing how to Tweet doesn’t equate to knowing the LexisNexis interface.

plagiarism via osmosis

Breaking news, infomaniacs!  Another virus affecting grey matter everywhere is potentially reaching pandemic proportions.  The predisposition to copy-and-paste has now entered the professional ranks of journalistic ethics and integrity.  In addition to recent actions of journalists unable to verify falsified wikipedia entries, a peculiar outbreak of  the “dragon-click” virus has afflicted the central processing unit of New York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd, who plagiarised a political blogger for her latest column:

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has admitted to using a paragraph virtually word-for-word from a prominent liberal blogger without attribution.

In addition to having the excerpt taken virtually word-for word, the most peculiar aspect to Dowd’s thievery, fellow news freaks, is that her explanation suggests that she was a victim of osmosis.

Dowd, who won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1990, told The Huffington Post that the mistake was unintentional. She claims she never read Marshall’s post last week and had heard the line from a friend who did not mention reading it in Marshall’s blog.

I emphasize the last line because, like the wikipedia scandal, she relied on an unverified source, a nameless “friend” if you will, who in effect had performed the plagiarism when speaking to her. That their conversation conveyed the exact contents of the blogger’s posting is, to quote Mr. Spock, fascinating.

wikipedia & primary sources

You know the state of information literacy is bad when journalists are copying and pasting quotes that are in fact hoaxes:

When Dublin university student Shane Fitzgerald posted a poetic but phony quote on Wikipedia, he said he was testing how our globalized, increasingly Internet-dependent media was upholding accuracy and accountability in an age of instant news.

“The moral of this story is not that journalists should avoid Wikipedia, but that they shouldn’t use information they find there if it can’t be traced back to a reliable primary source,” said the readers’ editor at the Guardian, Siobhain Butterworth, in the May 4 column that revealed Fitzgerald as the quote author.

Oh my.

breaking: fainting goat disease detected in student researchers

Apparently this is now is an epidemic on college and university campuses affecting students’ ability to take notes and start their research.  A terrible affliction.  Some intrepid researchers, non-student researchers mind you who must be resistant to this virulent strain, have found some striking…findings.  Consider the following preliminary symptoms (among several) and decide whether or not they may be related:

  • Students used words such as “angst”, “dread”, “anxious”, “stressed”, “disgusted”, “confused” and “overwhelmed” as the one word that describes their reaction to receiving a research assignment.
  • The majority of the students we intereviewed did not start on an assignment – thinking about it, researching or writing – until two or three days before it was due.

Mutually exclusive?  My thoughts exactly. More to the point, I gleaned this fascinating grain of psycholuminescence further down:

On the downside many participants considered formal library instruction of little value to them – not because it wasn’t helpful or informative but it was hard to recall what was learned when it was needed for an assignment.

Hmmmm, signs of neurological stress and memory loss, particularly during sessions of library instruction.  We need some test subjects and further research.  Hopefully our note-taking abilities we won’t be afflicted.

media specialists and college librarians the same?

Here’s a recent article from the NYT, talking about information literacy among elementary school students, and the work it takes for media specialists to break through to their “patrons”.  It’s amazing how the perceptions of information literacy and web habits among children mirror those of college students.

It’s an interesting article that details the gamut of issues that librarians are facing, including:

  • Budget cuts
  • Librarians on the front lines battling info illiteracy
  • Dealing with outdated collections and limited funds
  • actually making a difference

Here’s the scary part:

Even teachers find that they learn from Ms. Rosalia. “I was aware that not everything on the Internet is believable,” said Joanna Messina, who began taking her fifth-grade classes to the library this year. “But I wouldn’t go as far as to evaluate the whole site or look at the authors.”


During a lunch period earlier this month, Gagik Sargsyan, 13, slunk into the library and opened a laptop to research a social studies paper on the 1930s and 1940s.

“Have you looked at any books?” Ms. Rosalia asked.

A look of horror came over Gagik’s face. “No,” he said.

Not that surprising, really. But it’s self-evident to regard the stagnation of info seeking behavior among students of all levels, the OPACs, catalogs, databases that aren’t primarily utilized.  It does seem that students are taught little more than to fill in bubbles when not surfing the web.