Information Literacy Journal Club

A few weeks ago we had the initial meeting of the Information Literacy Journal Club. I was unable to participate in any real fashion, as it took place during a busy time of day in my time zone, but I was able to lurk a bit. In general, I prefer the SCONUL model to ACRL’s standards that most institutions in this country use. Mainly it’s a matter of writing style. SCONUL is closer to plain English and ACRL is closer to impenetrable legalese. Does the content differ? I’m too lazy to try to map and crosswalk one to the other, and such a project may not be worth the effort anyway. But I could do a simple superficial comparison:

ACRL: 5 standards, 22 performance indicators, 87 outcomes
SCONUL: 7 pillars, 45 “understands”, 49 “is able tos”

On that basis, if I counted correctly, I’d say they’re fairly even. The 7 Pillars feels more streamlined due to the language.

In my position as a Library Instruction Coordinator, I have to promote information literacy to faculty and students. Students often don’t see the point. Many feel they know this already. From the pre-tests I used to use, I found that the students with the weakest understanding all considered themselves experts. Whenever I see something from a student posted to Twitter with an #infolit hashtag, it is almost always harshly negative. So I think we really need ways to communicate an understanding of information literacy to novices – a sales pitch or some slogans that resonate with students might be a start.

I find that faculty appreciate the idea of information literacy, but many don’t see how it applies to their courses. “Everything we do is project-based. We have little need for library research.” is something I frequently hear when I’m doing outreach. Many say we should have a required course for information literacy. On one hand, that tells me they support my efforts, and on the other, it suggests that they think information literacy is someone else’s responsibility, not theirs. Perhaps that is an uncharitable view. Faculty have a lot to accomplish over the course of a semester, and may simply not have the time to add anything or change anything to incorporate information literacy development.

I’m currently developing a presentation on information literacy for faculty. My plan is to use findings from the recent Project Information Literacy report, “How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once They Join the Workplace,” as a hook to initiate a discussion of what information literacy is and what we can do together to help our students. (That report might make a good subject for a future discussion, if the group is interested.) I’m wondering if I should adapt the SCONUL model. Would it help make things more clear, or create confusion?

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