[kids-lib] Information Literacy: Public and School Libraries

Katie Anderson anderson_katie at oslmac.osl.state.or.us
Wed Mar 24 11:09:32 PDT 2010


  My School Library Consultant  colleague, Jen Maurer, just sent the article  below out on the Oregon Association of School Libraries   (OASL)  listserv and I thought you all would be interested in it too.  As most   of  you know Oregon  school districts have also been cutting certified school library media   specialists over   the past several  years.  
  Here are some Oregon  statistics from the Quality Education Model (QEM) data and ODE’s online school directory which you can review   in full at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=1495    

  Of the 1,318 schools in Oregon during  the 2008-2009 school year, there were:    

* 376       certified school librarians /media specialists. If you like   percentages: 29%   of schools in   Oregon had certified library media       specialists in 2008-2009.
* 731       school library support staff. If you like percentages: 55% of schools in Oregon   had library support staff in 2008-2009.

Here are a few things for   public librarians to think about:    

* What does it mean to be   information literate?   

* "To be information        literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is   needed        and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the   needed        information" The American Library        Association's (ALA) Presidential Committee on Information   Literacy, 1989.
* Information Literacy        Standards for Student Learning by American Association of School        Libraries:         http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/guidelinesandstandards/informationpower/InformationLiteracyStandards_final.pdf           

* How is your library   supporting school library       staff and teachers who provide direct information literacy   instruction to       students? 

* Learn new ideas for        partnering with your school library       staff and teachers  at: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alsc/initiatives/partnerships/coopacts/schoolplcoopprogs.cfm

* How is your library   supporting the information       literacy development of children and teens when they come to your   library?

* What one youth librarian   is        thinking of doing to promote information literacy in her public   library        over the summer: http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/?p=791


Katie Anderson, Library  Development Services
  * Youth Services Consultant * Oregon   Center for the Book  Coordinator *
  Oregon State  Library, 250 Winter St.  NE, Salem,   OR 97301
  katie.anderson at state.or.us,   503-378-2528 



Saving  the Google students
For  the Google generation, closing school libraries could be disastrous. Not  teaching kids how to sift through sources is like sending them into the world  without knowing how to read.

By Sara Scribner     

March 21, 2010    

The current generation of kindergartners to 12th graders --  those born between 1991 and 2004 -- has no memory of a time before Google. But  although these students are far more tech savvy than their parents and are  perpetually connected to the Internet, they know a lot less than they think. And  worse, they don't know what they don't know.            

  As a librarian in the Pasadena   Unified School    District, I teach students research skills. But  I've just been pink-slipped, along with five other middle school and high  school librarians, and only a parcel tax on the city's May ballot can save the  district's libraries. Closing libraries is always a bad idea, but for the  Google generation, it could be disastrous. In a time when information literacy  is increasingly crucial to life and work, not teaching kids how to search for  information is like sending them out into the world without knowing how to  read. 
  Instead of simply navigating books and the Readers' Guide to Periodical  Literature -- an annual index of magazine and newspaper articles used in the  olden days -- today's students sift through an infinite number of options:  books, Internet sources, academic databases. Much of the time they opt for  Google, which is like beingtossed into the ocean without a paddle. 
  An info-literate student can find theright bit of information amid the sea of  irrelevance and misinformation. But any college librarian will tell you that  freshman research skills areabsolutely abysmal. Before they graduate from high  school, students need to be able tounderstand thephenomenal number of  information options at their fingertips, learn how to work with  non-Google-style search queries, avoid plagiarism and judge whether the facts  before them were culled by an expert in the field or tossed off by a crackpot  in the basement.
  As even struggling school districts manage to place computers in classrooms,  it's difficult to find a child without Internet access. But look closer at what  happens when students undertake an academic task as simple as researching  global warming -- tens of millions of hits on Google -- and it becomes clear  that the so-called divide is not digital but informational. It's not about  access; it's about agility. 
  Most children consider a computer search second nature, so trying to give them  instruction or advice can be difficult. Recently, noticing that a sixth-grader  didn't know how to search the school library catalog, I tried to show him the  steps. "You don't need to tell me," he said, clearly insulted.  "I know how to use a computer!"
  It is especially shocking when students attempt to tap into the library's  catalog system by entering a book search on Amazon or searching the website for  Accelerated Reader's BookFinder (an online database that contains every book  included in the Accelerated Reader program). They sometimes don't understand  that these are discrete sites and systems. For them, the Internet is one big  amorphous information universe. 
  And to most kids, whatever they read on the Internet is "all good."  I've been told, quite emphatically, that the Apollo moonwalk never happened,  the Holocaust was a hoax and George W. Bush orchestrated 9/11 -- all based on  text, photos or videos found online.
  Although students might be able to hack through a school's video-game blocking  devices, they have trouble formulating successful search queries and making  sense of what they find. This needs to be taught -- again and again and again,  in different grades and in different ways. 
  Librarians can show students how tojudge a website and how to avoid landing on  bogus ones. We can also train them to come up with the kind of precision search  terms that could save them hours of sorting through a heap of useless hits.
  To research global warming, for example, I'd suggest an academic database such  as ProQuest's eLibrary or SIRS  Researcher, which have age-appropriate content. Or I'd steer students to  reliable Internet sources from library subscription sites such as Britannica  Online, which are vetted by experts. I could also teach them to use Google's  advanced features. 
  Instead of laying off librarians, we should be studying how children think  about information and technology. We need professionals to advocate for  teaching information literacy from an early age. We need librarians to love  books -- to inspire kids to turn off the screen sometimes and get caught up in  a story -- but we also need them to train students to manipulate search engines  and databases, to think about themin a fresh way. 
  Instead of closing library doors, we need to give librarians the time to teach  what they know: basic research survival skills that are as important as  reading, writing and math. If we don't teach our kids to take charge of  information, they will get swept aside by it. 
  Sara Scribner is a librarian at Blair International Baccalaureate  School, a public middle and high  school in Pasadena.

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times    

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