Tag Archives: Information literacy

Profiles of Information Seeking in Everyday Life

We recently acquired a book published in 2011 by MIT Press, Everyday Information: The Evolution of Information Seeking in America, that might be a source of readings for many of our credit courses. Here’s the table of contents:

Everyday Information--table of contents

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Investigating Truth with Web Tools

In a post on the Information Literacy @ CUNY blog, Maura Smale spotlights a video of a TED talk by journalist Markham Nolan that might be useful in our credit courses: How to Separate Fact and Fiction Online.

Nolan’s presentation touches on:

  • the changing nature of journalism
  • new techniques for factchecking
  • authority of sources
  • what does truth mean
  • visual literacy
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A Better Approach to Database Tutorials

There is an interesting column by Meredith Farkas in American Libraries about the approach that the University of Arizona is taking with database tutorials, which they call “Guide on the Side.” Basically, you get a slick looking tutorial right next to the database interface. This approach has been tried in the past at other colleges using frames to put the tutorial and database next to each other, but the design constraints of the past meant wonky vertical and horizontal scroll bars across the page. The U of AZ solution looks better.

It’s my understanding that the University of Arizona be releasing the software this summer that will enable libraries to make their own local versions of these tutorials. I was thinking these might be useful for us if we are trying to create some online instructional content that we might otherwise try to do in the classroom. I realize that these tutorials only hit the traditional, tool-based kind of instruction (click here, type that there, etc.), but it’s worth thinking about whether these play help a supporting role in our online instructional efforts.

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Info Literacy Ideas from the Writing Center

The Writing Center here at Baruch has a bunch of great workshops for students that touch on all sorts of issues that we bring up in our credit courses, workshops, and reference interactions. Keri Bertino and her staff have helpful uploaded to the Writing Center site a bumper crop of lesson plans and handouts from their workshops. Browsing the contents quickly, I can see lots of things that I hope will juice up my efforts to get students to think about what research really is and how you do it well.

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Findings about Student Research Habits

There is a great article in today’s Inside Higher Ed by Steve Kolowich, “What Students Don’t Know,” that looks at some of the findings from the ERIAL Project, which used ethnographic research methods to understand the ways student thought about and did research at a handful of academic libraries in Illinois.

While you’re at the Inside Higher Ed site, definitely take a look at librarian Barbara Fister’s blog post from August 17, “Sources of Confusion,” which parses the findings of the Citation Project in which student papers were analyzed by a pair of composition instructors. Her post features a good comments thread, including one gem from William Badke. The post spotlights a fantastic interview with the researchers from the Citation Project in which it is argued that students should be working closely with sources rather than just mining them for quotes to use use in patchwriting. If they were actually reading the sources fully and understanding them, they wouldn’t be patchwriting and would offer more summaries of the sources they are using. Instead students just harvest a few useful quotes, and stich them into their papers with little understanding of the larger significance of their sources. The researchers suggest that when students are actually deeply engaged with their sources, they are less likely to plagiarize on purpose.

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Tech Sharecase, 30 June 2011

Stephen Francoeur, Ellen Kaufman, Louise Klusek, Rita Ormsby, Mike Waldman

Today’s Topic
Attendees were asked to come to today’s meeting with something related to search (a new search engine, a new search feature or interface, an article or blog post about search, etc.)

Guide to Searching
We looked at a video tutorial and companion website from the library at the University of Massey (NZ) that walked users through the basics of search. We liked the website’s screenshot and the way the video had a table of contents that let you jump head to a specific section.

The library at the New York Law School has a search tool called DRAGNET that lets you find laws and other legal materials on various free legal databases. It was built using Google Custom Search. More details about how the service was put together can be found on this ACRL page. We wondered what it would be like to do something like this ourselves that searched a collection of open business-related databases on the web. We also talked about the plans for the Law.gov website, which are underway and will assemble a free resource of the nation’s laws.

One Search Boxes on Library Websites
Following up the discussion of search tools built with Google Custom Search, we looked at a Jamun, project being developed by the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor by Art Rhyno and Mita Williams. This tool will offer users a single box that searches across a number of different key resources. We also looked at the single search box (QuickSearch) that the library site at North Carolina State University features. We tried a bunch of different searches to see what comes up (notes of our searches didn’t get recorded, but you can try this one for “market share honda” as a useful example).

A Model for Teaching Search
We talked about librarian Iris Jastram’s model for teaching search, which she calls “exploding an article” and outlines in this blog post at Pegasus Librarian. In the classroom, students are introduced to the concept of being able to take one scholarly article that is relevant to them and use it to move in different directions to find others like it:

  • using Web of Science, you can move forward in time by looking for articles that have cited the one in hand
  • using the bibliography in the article, you can move back in time by tracking down the sources that the author used
  • using key terms in the article or in the descriptors for that article in a database, you can move to the sides to find articles that are about the same things

LibX Toolbar
We looked at a draft of a Newman Library toolbar that was built using the free LibX service. The toolbar features a search box for the library catalog, for the e-journals lookup tool, and for Bearcat. It also turns ISBNs, ISSNs, and DOIs into clickable links that will run lookups in relevant search tools from the library. Finally, it places an icon on the pages describing books in Amazon and other online booksellers; when the icon is clicked, the toolbar runs a search for that item in our catalog. This toolbar for our library is still being finished up and will be available soon.

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Tech Sharecase, 15 April 2011

Stephen Francoeur, Ellen Kaufman, Louise Klusek, Jin Ma, Ryan Phillips

We checked out a number of library related videos created using the xtranormal service, which lets you create animations.

“Library School: Hurts So Good”

“My Rules for Using Law Library Reference”

Video Interviews of Baruch Professors
At the recent Baruch Teaching and Technology Conference, Keri Bertino from the Writing Center spoke about a project she’s undertaken with a peer tutor to interview Baruch faculty about what research looks like in their disciplines. The interviews are recorded and will eventually be available as videos. This teaser video gives a sense of what the content will be like in the final videos.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/B4rFKgYComA" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Using Video to Evoke Critical Stances from Students
We talked about this news story from InsideHigherEd (“Calibrating Students’ B.S. Meters,”15 April 2011) that spotlights the work of librarians using videos in classrooms to engage students in critical thinking.

Mobile Library Websites
A recent blog post at iLibrarian featuring 7 ways to build a library website for mobile devices was discussed.

joli Cloud OS
Stephen showed his Dell Mini laptop that was running Joli OS instead of Windows. Joli is built on Ubuntu.

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Baruch Faculty Members Modeling How They Research

I’m really excited by a project that the Writing Center is working on and that was previewed at today’s Teaching and Technology Conference. Keri Bertino and a student employee at the Writing Center have been editing a series of videotaped interviews they conducted with faculty members. In the interviews, the faculty members explain what research looks like in their discipline and talk about a specific exemplary work. Each faculty member answered a series of questions posed by the interviewers:


  1. Why do people write in your field?
  2. What kinds of questions are writers in your field trying to answer with their writing?


  1. What is the format or organization of a typical article in your field?
  2. What citation style does your field usually use?


  1. How is an argument usually introduced in writing in your field?
  2. How is that argument usually developed?


  1. What kind of evidence or research is used in your field?
  2. How is this evidence, research, or data used?
  3. How is previous scholarship and research used in writing in your field?
  4. How might a writer in your field address existing or potential conflicting theories or arguments?


  1. What kind of “voice” is appropriate to writing in your field?
  2. How might it be appropriate to insert the author’s point of view or experience into this writing?


  1. Are there any other characteristics or qualities of writing that seem typical of your field?

For students:

  1. What do you want a student to do and to learn when you ask them to write in your field?
  2. As they prepare to write, what questions should students ask themselves?
  3. What difficulties did you first encounter when writing in this field?

Once the videos are edited, they will be posted on the Writing Center website. I can imagine that these interviews could be really useful in our instructional efforts, as we try to help students understand what research really is in all its academic varieties. To give you a better sense of what this project is about, you may want to check out this teaser video made by Keri Bertino and her assistant in preparation for the presentation at today’s conference.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/B4rFKgYComA" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

A second video pulls together a sample of the responses that faculty gave to the questions and offers a nice preview of what the final videos will look like.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/5CrGWG8FrBU" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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I learned a fun new word while listening to a podcast of On the Media today: churnalism. The word defines the practice of journalists who rely more on press releases than on their own original reporting. On the podcast, the host and his guest talk about a fake press release on a new “chastity garter belt” that was being introduced to the market and the way that many news organizations took the press release at face value. This might be a useful story to bring up in our workshops and credit classes.

Listen to the “Churning Out PR” segment from the 4 March 2011 episode of On the Media.

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Struggling to Define Information Literacy

There have been a couple of interesting discussions online lately about how to define information literacy. A thread started in FriendFeed by Iris Jastram from Carleton College got the ball rolling and then led to a couple of notable blog posts.

Steve Lawson from Colorado College then wrote a nice post on his blog, See Also…, which offered a great description of what students are supposed to be doing with multiple viewpoints they should be searching for when doing research:

We often talk about finding sources so the student can “join the conversation,” and I sometimes say they need to find multiple viewpoints they can get in their papers “and make ‘em fight.” In that case it seems less like finding “information” than it seems like finding “dinner party guests” or “sparring partners.”

Iris Jastram then wrote a post on her blog, Pegasus Librarian, in which she provided a link to the PDF of a nice handout she and her colleagues at Carleton put together: “Finding, Evaulating, and Ethically Using Information: Information Literacy in the A&I Seminars.”

Jastram, Iris. “What Is Information Literacy Anyway?” Pegasus Librarian, 7 December 2009. Web.
Lawson, Steve. “Information Literacy: A Non-Definition.” See Also…, 7 December 2009. Web.

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