What is valued? What is meaningful?

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, which isn’t to say that I haven’t been writing.  Over the summer I completed three article drafts, which are in various stages of the editorial process for future publication – a new milestone that I’ve been very proud to pursue.  Simultaneously, my colleagues and I have been thinking about the ways that we measure our success as librarians and are experiencing some frustration at the differences between librarian and faculty acknowledgement and promotion.  For example, faculty on our campus are promoted when they demonstrate dedication to service, scholarship, and teaching – librarians are not.  My own investment in these areas is not leading me to additional financial stability.  I am interested in participating, but should I be compensated for this work?  Is my interest in pursuing compensation or recognition a drive towards neoliberal values and the cult of productivity or am I advocating for change in an inequitable system?

My questions have led me to begin to think in earnest, again, about assessment.  How can I advocate to for the representation of the work my colleagues that increases visibility and demonstrates value?  How can I assess students and instruction in a way accounts for the value of diverse human experiences and ways of knowing and being?

This past year, I’ve been turning towards some methodologies that appear (to me) to be outside the standby methods of the social sciences, but have value in representing the complexities of what is occurring in life and education:  autoethnography and narrative inquiry.  I have a lot to learn, but I’m aiming to grow towards the regular creation of field texts and in greater understanding of the tensions in creating research texts from them.

My first reading about narrative inquiry was Clandinin’s (2006) “Narrative inquiry: A methodology for studying lived experience.”  Clandinin (2006) provides an easy-to-read, engaging overview that has me excited to read more.  Next I’m going to explore the dimensions of field texts that Cladinin and Connelly (2000) uses to situate a narrative (interaction, continuity, and place) and consider the differences in methodologies in order to determine what will suit our/my library needs (Clandinin & Rosiek, 2006).

Clindinin (2006) refers to Nigerian storyteller Ben Okri, who says, “We live stories that either give our lives meaning or negate it with meaninglessness” (pg. 51).  I believe that there is meaning in the experiences that lead us to location of ourselves, our need to know, and our path to growth.  Here I am, once again, standing in a place where I do not know – declaring my current motivations, position, and inspiration and where I hope this drive leads me.

Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in qualitative research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Clandinin, D. J. (2006). Narrative inquiry: A method for studying lived experience.  Research Studies in Music Education, 27(1), 44-54. DOI: 10.1177/1321103X060270010301

Clandinin, D. J., & Rosiek, (2006). Mapping a landscape of narrative inquiry: Borderland spaces and tensions. In D. J. Clandinin (Ed.), Handbook of narrative inquiry: Mapping a methodology (pp. 35-75). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

2018 in Review

I was browsing through Instagram this week and saw a post by @samjstirling: “Adulthood is completely understanding why Britney Spears shaved her head.”  And so I concluded that 2018 is the year that I’ve become an adult.  No more judgement from me, Britney.

I want to be vulnerable and open about my professional struggles.  If you would have asked me last year what was on my mind I would have likely told you that I felt frustrated that I didn’t have a passion, a purpose, a specific project or interest that would make my work meaningful to me.  Then, in November of 2017 I saw Janaya Khan speak and decided that I wanted to be more politically active.  I began working out my frustrations through local organizing.  I also decided that 2018 was the year that I would radicalize myself – and so I began reading.

all about love; where we stand: class matters; the will to change; fates and furies; arcadia; the girl with the back tattoo; the nix; sula; beloved; pedagogy of the oppressed; giovanni's room; the book of joy; the last season; norse mythology; between breaths; don't call us dead; the divergent series; new and selected poems by mary oliver; just mercy.

As you can see, I wasn’t entirely focused in my radicalization efforts, but many of these books changed my life as my awareness of the white supremacist, imperialist, capitalist patriarchy increased my drive for justice.

Consequently, I organized programs:

  • The Power of Partnerships: Building institutional and community alliances to transform research and learning, Delaware Valley Chapter of ACRL – April 20
  • Development in Allentown: Are you being left behind?, Allentown Coalition for Economic Dignity – April 29
  • Structures of Power in Information, LVAIC Information Literacy Learning Community – May 23
  • People Matter: The changing faces of Allentown, Allentown Coalition for Economic Dignity – October 13
  • Librarians as Advocates: Leading activism on your campus and beyond, Delaware Valley Chapter of ACRL – October 26
  • Party for the People: A night of art, community, and social justice, Allentown Coalition for Economic Dignity – December 13

I taught classes and focused on critical information literacy praxis.  I began to develop a game to help students critically evaluate the Library of Congress classification system.  I helped a class in which half the students were incarcerated.

I began research on dialogue and news evaluation, information literacy and metacognition, and Allentown community dreams.

I canvassed for a candidate during the primaries and advocated for my communities needs at city council.

And in spite of all of this, I have had many mental health challenges.  Awareness of the horrors of our hate-ridden society has produced a lot of internal anxiety and an unprecedented amount of frustration about things I previously loved in my life.  This is the year that I’ve practiced meditation, abstained from drinking, and started cognitive behavioral therapy.  I’ve had to work hard to be happy in spite of the intersections of my privileged identities, love from friends and family, and a happy place to work.

I share this in the spirit of renewal and practice.  This year wasn’t just one of radicalization, but one of increased awareness, empathy, and compassion.  I’m thankful for my new direction in life and will continue to make small changes until I find more balance.  May the new year bring peace and connection and freedom from fear for you and yours.

 

 

Identity expression, safe spaces, and advocacy

I recently admitted to a colleague that I had hoped to write in this blog monthly and that my public reflections have become much further apart as my job responsibilities, relationships on campus, and teaching load expands.  I am not able to jump online and immediately share my experiences and reflections, but there is one moment from last month that remains in my mind, and so I’m sharing, and processing some more, now.

As the semester started, I was reminded by April Hathcock of the importance of creating welcoming spaces on campus and of the value in providing microaffirmations to show individuals that they belong.   Since most of my initial interactions with students are in library instruction sessions, I do my best to be approachable and to affirm to students that they belong in the library, that it is my responsibility to help them find and use information resources, and that I am someone that they can rely on and relate to.  In an effort to meet students, I introduce myself by name and pronouns, and ask them to do the same.  Most of the time, this is a non-issue in classes.  Occasionally, students ask what it means to identify their pronouns.  This semester, I had a student refuse, saying he doesn’t believe in “that modern mumbo-jumbo.”  This individual was a white adult male and I was frustrated and baffled about how to deal with the situation.  I blundered my way through a brief conversation with him, while his white male professor stood behind him wide-eyed and silent.  There were a lot of power dynamics at play here and, while I understand that many other things could have happened, I left the class determined that I would handle it better if a similar situation ever happens again.

I later read Veronica Arellano Douglas’ entry about allowing students to create systems of learning that encourage them to “set their own limits and share what they feel comfortable sharing.”  She emphasized that if we require students to share, “it can’t be on the dominant group’s terms.”

So this is where I have landed, though I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.  When I introduce myself I say, “I would appreciate if you share your pronouns with me, as it helps me perform my job with excellence and not make gender-normative assumptions.”  Should a student say rude things in response, I will tell them that it is out of respect for the diversity of human experience and maintain that they don’t need to participate, but they do need to be respectful.

I realize that this scenario is one in which an individual with privileged identities was communicating that he was uncomfortable, but I think it remains true that we cannot force students to share their pronouns, potentially making a space unsafe.  I do think, however, that it is important for me to make a request students share their pronouns with me, so that I’m not assuming the dominant group’s terms.  This is an example of a situation where I am able to leverage my own privilege in order to ally myself with individuals on the margins.  This is what it is like to be an advocate, it is difficult work that doesn’t always go perfectly the first time.  But through reflection and persistence I hope it goes better the next.

An Update from President Jess Denke

Happy Fall 2018 everyone!

I’m excited to say hello as I begin my year as DVC President.   Change provides opportunity for reflection, and so my thoughts go towards all the accomplishments of the past year.  In the 2017-2018 year, we held two successful programs on news literacy and library partnerships, we awarded $3,000 in scholarships to members to support their professional development, and we provided mentorship opportunities for students and librarians.  In effect, we continued to build community for you – our esteemed network of library workers in the Delaware Valley.

I’m thankful for all of the people I have met this past year and the new relationships that I’ve formed.  Each interaction reminds me of the value of the work of a local chapter of our professional organization.   Through our community we provide professional development, support one another during challenges and change, and build our ability to consider different perspectives and challenge our own lens.

Our upcoming fall program supports each of these endeavors.  Librarians as Advocates: Leading Activism on Your Campus and Beyond will be a day devoted to identifying our work as librarians as that which resists systems of oppression and supports those marginalized in our society. Library work has at its core the values inherent in access of information to all – equity, diversity, inclusion, and freedom.  However, sometimes these values are lost in the day-to-day business of running a library.  Join us on October 26th to be reinvigorated in the action of library work towards a better future for all.  We are currently accepting submissions for lightning round proposals, we are in the process of assembling an amazing panel of librarian activists and community organizers, and we are planning an afternoon of roundtable dialogue.  Stay tuned for registration information, which will be shared in the near future!

Libraries and librarians are well-positioned to make a difference in the lives of those who need us most.    Together we are stronger and can achieve more.  Please join me in building professional relationships; your participation will make us a more prepared, effective community of action.

 

This post was original published on 9/10/2018 on the ACRL DVC blog.

Process as Practice

I have a partner who is extremely prolific in his creative endeavors.  Just this morning he told me he was setting one project aside in favor of continuing on with another.  This is an extremely routine experience for him – he is always in the process of creating and we spend a lot of time brainstorming, dreaming, and problem-solving for each endeavor.  I have a harder time with process.  My doubts interfere with the work; my motivation waivers; I get distracted with television and books.  However, sometimes I seem to just stumble into a creative process that I find enjoyable and most of the time I give myself the leeway to indulge in these experiences.

Visual design has been a source of inspiration and fun for me for most of my life.  However, my goals and tools have changed since the days when Microsoft Paint on my dad’s Macintosh II afforded me the ability to spray paint rainbows.  I began learning Adobe Illustrator at my first academic library position and have since been learning about and utilizing the Adobe suite for my design work.

Learning a new software package can be a challenge and sometimes the stress of creating flyers, banners, or logos at work can hinder my ability to learn new tools and experiment.  Lucky for me, my summer schedule gives me the time and space to slow down and seek joy in the process. This past spring I have been most inspired by modifying and transforming artifacts in the public domain.  I have found that the process of snipping images, altering color levels, and overlapping sprites has been really fun.  By appreciating the process of creating, I’ve put less pressure on myself to create a product, and have thought of the work as practice for those projects that are more oriented towards library goals.  Through practice, I’ve learned some new tools and skills and am able to respond to my coworkers requests more quickly.

All that to say, take time to enjoy the process of learning and creating.  Though your products might vary in success, the process is a practice and your skills are likely transferable.  Also, it’s alright to set a project aside, your interest and joy will likely return.  And, since you made it this far, I won’t leave you without sharing the product of my Adobe design practice:  my first zine.  Flip through below to see a short, silly, slightly crass collaboration with my very-creative partner (he wrote some of the copy).

Diversity, voice, and community engagement: We are stronger together

It’s been such a long time since I’ve done any serious reflection on my work and consequent writing.  Spring semester ended in a rush of activity and my writing practice went down the drain.  Generally, I’ve been reserving Friday afternoons for an hour or two of writing, which I’ve published here (for the most part).  So, in keeping with that tradition, today I will be reflecting on my Spring semester accomplishments.

I’ve been involved in three planning committees that held programs this spring:  the Allentown Coalition for Economic Dignity (ACED, a committee of POWER), the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and the Information Literacy Learning Community of the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC).  Planning these programs took months of committee work.  When these kinds of programs come to a close I feel such a sense of relief and accomplishment.  There are reports, schedules, and resources from each of the programs on their respective websites and I would encourage any curious readers to check them out.   The ACED panel allowed Allentown community members to discuss real estate development and consequent community action with local community leaders, the ACRL DelVal program was about library partnerships, and the theme of the LVAIC information literacy symposium was Structures of Power in Information.  In my mind, these three programs have a lot in common, but this lesson stands out:

Communities are better when everyone’s interests are represented. 

We are stronger together.

Though the marginalized members of communities may be easy to ignore, when they are included their voices bring strength and power.  In my work with ACED, we determined from the beginning that, though we represent the community, we don’t represent all of the community and needed to be able to engage the people of Allentown immediately to determine what their needs and desires were for our home.  This panel was an effort to engage by providing an opportunity for education and communication.  It was followed by round tables where community members could express their ideas and continue conversations with one another.

The panel and round tables were  helpful in guiding the direction of our continued organization work.  This is the kind of democratic community building discussed in Sarah Stanlick’s “Rethinking the expert voice:  Knowledge-making in community engagement,” which was presented at the LVAIC symposium.  Democratic community engagement is important for all library partnerships; it’s important that our work is relational, reciprocal, and that we co-create our knowledge of and in our communities. In my mind, this relates to the way that librarian’s design assessment measures and determine what kind of assessment we value, how we develop research projects and what stakeholders we include in research, and our pedagogical practices within the classroom.

I’ve also been reflecting on voice in preparation for my own presentation at the LVAIC symposium with Kate Richmond titled “Engaging students in identifying voice in scholarship.”  When presenting academic research to students in the classroom, it is often beneficial to discuss the identities of authors and research participants as part of a discussion of authority as constructed and contextual.  Of course, students need to understand the process of information creation that gives academics increased trust in academic journal articles before we break it down.  However, it’s important to remember that many scholarly conversations are only occurring in communities of privilege.  For example, in reviews of peer-reviewed psychology research by Eagly & Riger (2014), the majority of senior authors were found to be are white, upper-class men who were senior professors at top research universities.  And participant populations fall into similar categories.  One of my favorite statistics is in Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan’s (2010) article “The weirdest people in the world?”:

“A randomly selected American undergraduate is more than 4,000 times
more likely to be a research participant [in the behavioral sciences] than is a randomly selected person from outside of the West” (p. 63).

Perhaps this doesn’t affect the way that you read articles, but what if it does?  Sharing this information with students helps them to develop a critical eye towards scholarly work and also allows for conversations about the development and value of different kinds of authority.  The authority of personal experience, or that developed by organic intellectuals (see Mentzell Ryder’s (2015) “Beyond critique: Global activism and the case of Malala Yousafzai”), is valuable and can be valued in the classroom.  One way to do this is by allowing students to design the classroom environment or direct classroom discussion.  We can also increase student’s opportunities to share their own experience and value self-reflection that allows them to contextualize learning.

Co-creation of knowledge in and about libraries is best done through inclusion of all voices. Co-creation of knowledge in and about cities is best done through inclusion of all voices. Co-creation of knowledge in and about communities is best done through inclusion of all voices.

And, in closing, I just want to state that I value the public nature of this blog and the readers who occasionally give me feedback.  I value reading and hope to continue to share my own experiences through publication, but I know that I need to continue my writing practice if I’m ever going to become a valued author.  Today I determined that I needed to write something to exercise my writing muscles.  If you want to be good at a craft, remember that growth comes through practice and process.

References

Eagly, A. H., & Riger, S. (2014). Feminism and psychology: Critiques of methods and epistemology. American Psychologist, 69(7), 685–702. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0037372

Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2–3), 61–83. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X0999152X

Ryder, P. M. (2015). Beyond critique: Global activism and the case of Malala Yousafzai. Literacy in Composition Studies, 3(1), 175–187.

Tech tools: Course-specific help guides.

The Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education identifies an important knowledge practice for information literacy learners as matching information needs to appropriate tools.  As we all know, the tools of a university library are no longer solely contained in a physical building, but include numerous databases, digital repositories of information that vary in content and form.  Thus, one could argue that it has become harder to identify the correct tools.  Our library’s discovery service bundles many of these tools in one place in the hopes that students will locate a number of resources without further knowledge of the tools.  However, OCLC discovery is so large it is commonly unwieldy to searchers.  In information literacy instruction sessions, I often direct students to help guides – this way students are able to directly access the tools and resources that are best suited for their disciplinary research needs.

However, a study of library help guides by Roberts and Hunter published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Library and Information Services in Distance Learning reports that students do not, in fact, connect to subject guides because they do not think of their studies as situation in a discipline. Students are much more likely to connect to guides that are specific to their course.  So, I create them regularly!  Course-specific guides are very important for interdisciplinary research, which is so prominent at Muhlenberg. These guides link to resources across disciplines that meet assignment-specific information needs.

Roberts and Hunter (2011) report that students spend a minute on discipline-specific guides and seven to eight minutes on course-specific guides.  Thus, through course-specific guides I can increase students persistence in research, demonstrate how tools can meet specific information needs, and provide access to resources strategically.  I shared this information with a few faculty today, hoping to encourage them to collaborate on guides with their liaison librarians.  Since I think it is a fairly convincing argument, I thought I would share it here too!

 

Roberts, S. & Hunter, D. (2011).  New library, new librarian, new student:  Using LibGuides to reach the virtual student.  Journal of Library and Information Services in Distance Learning, 5(1-2), 67-75.  https://doi.org/10.1080/1533290X.2011.570552

Libraries and Librarians are Not Neutral, Real

The first thing that I heard from ALA midwinter was the Twitter response to the library neutrality debate, which I loved.  I shared a lot of Library Twitter’s opinions on the debate, including the question Why are we still debating neutrality?  It got me thinking about my own non-neutral experience.  I work to incorporate a lot of instructional practices that highlight voices and deconstruct power in my one-shot sessions.  My latest endeavor in class is to complicate library/librarian neutrality by sharing my own real-life research.  Showing the work I’m doing outside the library shares my values with students and also shows how research is incorporated into life in a non-scholarly environment.  It is a vulnerable act of non-neutrality that that I believe has an extended impact on the classroom environment because students are able to connect with me and the cyclical, sometimes messy, process of research.

Since November 2017 I’ve been organizing with Pennsylvanians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild (POWER), which is a grassroots movement that empowers members to become “bold agents of liberation, actively pursuing racial, social, and economic justice for us all.”  Most of my work has been towards economic and racial dignity in Allentown in light of unjust development occurring as a result of state-subsidized building in Center City’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone.  The Allentown Coalition for Economic Dignity (ACED) meets weekly – we are working to develop increasing social capital and to identify the needs of the community in order to petition local lawmakers and developers for a community benefits ordinance or agreement.

This work requires a significant amount of research.  Thankfully, many individuals on the team have been involved in researching and educating us all on methods of community organizing, components of successful community benefits agreements, and local community structures.  In order to visualize the way that research contextualizes and advances the work that ACED is doing, I’ve drawn a concept map that I’ve shared in a few advanced research methods courses.

20180226_104941 (1)default

Concept mapping can be a very useful step in a creative research process.  Especially in advanced courses where student’s final product is up to their discretion, I believe concept mapping is a useful tool.  The structure of the concept map lends itself well to organized and thought-out research.  In the middle of the paper is the main topic, with the participants of the scholarly conversation on level 2.  I do introduce the students to Burke’s “Unending Conversation” metaphor and I also emphasize that databases/information resources are often organized by the “who” and so each branch will likely have different resources to search (with some overlap).

One of the things that students don’t often consider is the research that goes into choosing a specific type of product or outcome.  I like to emphasize that ACED has researched the #BlackLivesMatter movement to identify how to use social media to mobilize people around an issue.  Similarly, we are researching the language of successful community benefits ordinances so we have legal precedent as a model for Allentown legislation.  Research is used to gain knowledge on a topic as a basis for strong arguments and it bolsters decisions we make and helps us be effectual.

Providing students with an opportunity for self-guided research and production can result in them being overwhelmed and uncertain.  They may make choices based on their previous experiences with form and miss the joy that comes from work driven by their own interests.  Concept mapping helps!  It creates a structure to the work and a living artifact of what they have done and where they are going.  My own concept map is a little messy and complicated, but it helps me keep track of the work.  It isn’t perfect, but it models a process that has helped me make decisions and learn in a non-scholarly environment.

ACED is a politically oriented group working towards change – an inherently non-neutral effort.  However, I’d argue that many of the decisions we make regarding to use our time are political.  Emily Drabinski says, “each choice we make for something is a choice against some other thing.”  I am making additional choices to position myself as a non-neutral professional in a non-neutral environment.  Sharing my work with students has resulted in personal connections based on real-life vulnerability and shared values.  I think that these kinds of decisions further embed me within the college community, implicitly teach students about the values of librarianship, and position me as an ally in the fight for economic, racial, a social equity.

Introducing Students to Information Privilege: A call for comments!

I’ve just finished a 45-minute lesson in which students learn to distinguish scholarly, trade, and popular resources.

Me:  Can you find scholarly literature in the library? Students: Yes.

Me:  Can you find trade literature in the library?  Students:  Yes.

Me:  Can you find popular literature in the library?  Students: Yes.

Me:  Can you find popular literature through Google?  Students: Yes.

Me:  Can you find trade literature through Google?  Students: Yes.

Me:  Can you find scholarly literature through Google?  Students: Yes.

Me (or another voice from the crowd):  So why the library?  Why are we here?

I love this line of questioning because it seems to change the way that students see me, a librarian.  I think that they come to the library with the idea that I’m pro-library NO MATTER WHAT.  I’m going to defend libraries existence instead of convince them that the library is a resource to use.  It also opens up a conversation about open access and information privilege.

Access to an academic library has clear benefits to the experienced researcher, but students often need to be convinced to take the extra step and try out a library database, to disrupt their Google habit.   Librarians choose the best resources, we filter out the garbage.  Library databases are structured in a way that we can retrieve valuable information more efficiently through strategic searching.  In all three of my most recent classes, students have suggested this information in response to my question.  Then I’ve been able to say that, in addition to carefully curated and organized information, the library has access to more information resources because we have paid for access.  Resources from the New York Times to the Journal of the American Medical Association require payment for access to full-text content.  The scholarly articles that are available online are able to be read through Open Access… the publishers have circumvented traditional publishing means in order to allow everyone to read the work.

I say, “Open Access is an ethical imperative because otherwise only those who can pay have access to the most recent information and so knowledge development is limited to the rich.  You are privileged by your access to information based on your affiliation to this institution.”

This is what I’m interested to hear from you, what is the language you use to introduce information privilege to your students?  How do you set it up?

 

Information Literacy Roundtable: Active Learning and Interdisciplinary Exchange

January 11th was Trexler Library’s annual Information Literacy Roundtable.  Nine faculty members joined librarians Kelly Cannon, Rachel Hamelers, Susan Falciani, and myself to discuss ways to integrate information literacy into disciplinary curriculum. Each librarian proposed activities for active instruction to engage students in evaluation of information and information structures.  These activities resulted in engaging conversations around disciplinary values, curriculum design, and student experience.

History professor Lynda Yankaskas joined Kelly Cannon in sharing a source evaluation activity that has helped students make informed decisions around resource selection.  In addition to giving her students source requirements for her annotated bibliography assignment, Yankaskas is transparent about the reasons behind these requirements.  Cannon begins a conversation around sources by asking students to evaluate seven sources  (see bottom of guide) that he specifically chose to challenge student’s evaluation skills.  For example, one resource is old and, therefore, not representative of the current scholarly conversation.  Other resources are not scholarly or not specifically written by historians, which are both requirements Yankaskas set for her students’ development as historians.  Perhaps the most challenging source within this activity is a book that discusses historiography, or the writing of history, but not history itself.  Through a class discussion of these resources students begin to recognize that there is a critical element to selecting the best resources for their projects; not all library resources are the same.

Following Cannon and Yankaskas, Susan Falciani brought out some letters from the Muhlenberg archive.  In classes with faculty from a variety of disciplines, Falciani utilizes these primary resources to excite students and inspire them to ask questions.  The Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education emphasizes that the process of research depends upon an increasingly complex line of inquiry.

In interaction with these manuscripts, students are asked to describe and evaluate the text and then identify missing information.  Students identify an information need based on the questions they have about the resource, and are then inspired to dig deeper.  Falciani connected with various faculty that had not previously considered use of Muhlenberg’s archive.  She mentioned that the archive is “not particularly deep, but wide” and that there are many disciplinary connections that can be made to the primary source material.

I suggested a constructivist approach to teaching students about the strategy required for searching databases.  Through student’s knowledge of social media, particularly Twitter, I proposed that students are posed to understand searching strategies required for efficient database navigation.  In my activity, I ask students to describe to a partner how to navigate to a Twitter post.  I draw direct comparisons to library database searching.  For example, searching for a Twitter handle is compared to Author searching and hashtags are compared to searching or controlled language.  Students quickly identify multiple search strategies that can be used within Twitter, but commonly use only one within databases.  This activity encourages use of multiple strategies and persistent searching, which is in line with the “Searching as Strategic Exploration” frame within the Framework.  Faculty questioned student’s knowledge of Twitter, but seemed to appreciate the comparisons, which can be used to connect student’s prior knowledge of databases with educational research.

Rachel Hamelers completed the day by leading a discussion around disciplinary values.  She asked participants to consider what barriers to creation, access, and use of information exist within their disciplines.  Then, she asked what disciplines values in information and how we can make these values transparent to students within their coursework.  Faculty in history shared the challenges that result from language barriers and how international multilingual conferences are breaking down barriers and resulting in greater exchange of information.  In psychology, the traditional value of quantitative methodologies and large sample sizes is being tempered by research within smaller, local contexts.  Interdisciplinary conversation around these challenges and values showed the variation in information literacy instruction across disciplines.

Faculty and librarians parted with knowledge applicable to classroom instruction and assignment development.  Keep an eye out for an additional conversation around information literacy later this spring over wine and cheese.

This post was initially published on 1/12/18 for the Muhlenberg College community on the Trexler Library blog.  I’m sharing it here because I think it’s valuable to the larger librarian community!