Information authority and carnival (InfoSavvy)

Mardi Gras sheet music cover

Image by Ralph E. Elicker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Since Mardi Gras was two days ago, I thought about the idea of carnival.  According to some theories carnival involves a temporary inversion of social norms, with a potential challenge to authority (Theories, 2016).  How do we subvert information authority?

Let’s consider how we call for scholarly sources.  While such sources have their place, exposure to varied popular and trade sources would benefit learners.  Learners would get a feel for how “Authority is constructed and contextual” (Association of College & Research Libraries, 2015).  At the same time they would gain practice evaluating sources no matter the intended audience.

Carnival involves a temporary upending  of authority, and I don’t advocate a total overthrow of scholarly sources.  I would not base a research project solely on the Wikipedia article (Theories, 2016) I used, for example, but I could follow the references.    Just as popular festivals have their functions, popular sources play their role.


Association of College & Research Libraries. (2015).  Framework for information literacy for higher education. Retrieved from ACRL website :

Theories. (2016). In Carnival. Retrieved from

Posted by on February 11th, 2016 Comments Off

Social media issues and info lit (InfoSavvy)

Hands typing on a keyboard

Image from

During winter session I took a course about social media.  The course raised interesting questions about balance in information technology and society.

How do we balance attention to the outer world of online connection with attention to our inner lives of reflection?  How do we balance individual privacy with collective security?  How do we balance our personal action with larger social action?  This balance would play out differently for each of us.  Our circumstances and talents differ.

To find our respective places in the world of information, we need to understand the world of information.  The ACRL Information Literacy Framework (Association of College & Research Libraries, 2015) pays greater attention to this larger context.   I recommend the resources listed on the library’s Hot Topics: Online Privacy guide. The class also read the book Hamlet’s Blackberry.


Association of College & Research Libraries. (2015).  Framework for information literacy for higher education. Retrieved from ACRL website :

Powers, W. (2010).  Hamlet’s Blackberry : A practical philosophy for building a good life in the digital age. New York, NY: Harper.

P.S.  The latest edits to the guide were thanks to some of the class readings.

Posted by on February 4th, 2016 Comments Off

Challenging the ACRL Framework (InfoSavvy)

One of the Association of College & Research Libraries (2015) frames states that “authority is constructed and contextual.”  In other words, information literacy can challenge traditional authority.  Beilin (2015) challenges the authority of the ACRL Framework itself.

His chief critique is that the Framework doesn’t sufficiently challenge power structures and inequalities in existing information systems (Beilin, 2015, Information Literacy Instruction Is Also ABout Resistance section).  As Hanick and Townsend (2015) point out, though, how can learners challenge these structures without first understanding them?  I’ll add that learners may have other, more immediate, information needs.

Another critique is that the Framework is still too focused on the individual (Beilin, 2015, Information Literacy Instruction Is Also ABout Resistance section).  While social issues are important, they need not exclude the individual.

All the same I applaud Beilin for putting a principle into practice.   Such critique helps develop information literacy thought.


Association of College & Research Libraries. (2015).  Framework for information literacy for higher education. Retrieved from ACRL website :

Beilin, I. (2015, February 25). Beyond the threshold: Conformity, resistance, and the ACRL Information Literacy Framework for Higher Education [Blog post].  Retrieved from

Hanick, S. L., & Townsend, L. (2015, November 17).  ACRL SLILC big picture theory and the practical classroom: Threshold concepts and information literacy instruction [Video file].  Retrieved from

Posted by on January 28th, 2016 Comments Off

Welcome back for spring semester 2016 (InfoSavvy)

Welcome mat

Image by The McClouds from Chicago ‘burbs, USA (New welcome mat from my parents) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I hope the intersession treated you well.  As always your liaison librarians are happy to work with you.  We encourage you to meet with us: find out how we can support your teaching and research.

As always we’re happy to visit your classes at point of need.  We can create course guides to replace or complement a visit.

These are but a few of the ways we can work with you.   Here’s wishing you the  best for the new semester!

Posted by on January 21st, 2016 Comments Off

Best of 2015, part 2 (InfoSavvy)

Festive stars on a blue background

Image from

After a hiatus I can return to the highlights of my 2015 professional reading:

6. McGeough, D. D. (2015). Literacy in performance studies: Connecting oral interpretation, critical media literacy, and digital performance. American Communication Journal, 17(1), 1–9. Retrieved from

I have a soft spot for articles that draw from the communication field.  This one even comes from a professor in the field.  She describes how she fosters relevant information habits when teaching oral interpretation.

7. Revitt, M. (2015, April 15). Sharing is good: An update from Maine’s Shared Collections.  MLA-Z. Retrieved from

Keeping up with local and statewide matters is part of my professional practice.  Revitt thoughtfully explains Maine’s Shared Collections Strategy, in which libraries statewide agree to retain one copy of a low-use item.

8. Rubick, K. (2015). Flashlight: using Bizup’s BEAM to illuminate the rhetoric of research. Reference Services Review, 43(1), 98–111.

As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy articles that draw from rhetorical theory.  This one combines the theory with a practical application.

9. Swanson, T. A., & Jagman, H. (Eds.). (2015). Not just where to click: Teaching students how to think about information. Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries.

I continually seek out ideas for moving beyond the database demonstration.  This book contains examples offered by some major names in the field.

10. Wolstenholme, J. (2015). Evidence based practice using formative assessment in library research support. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 10(3), 4–29. Retrieved from

Wolstenholme takes the one-minute paper assessment to a new level with two different types of minute papers: the Polling One Minute Paper and the Reflective One Minute Paper.  These assessments would work well in a one-shot session.

Posted by on January 14th, 2016 Comments Off

InfoSavvy Intersession 2015-2016

Couch and coffee table

I took last week off for an intersession break.  Stay tuned for a regular post this week.

Posted by on January 13th, 2016 Comments Off

Best of 2015, part 1 (InfoSavvy)

Festive stars on a yellow background

 Image from

As the year ends, I salute my favorite professional readings of 2015.  I mix books, articles, and other formats in this year’s list.  Here they are in alphabetical, not rank, order:

1. Bell, S. (2015, July 8).  AKA “the student success center” [Blog post].  Retrieved from

Steven Bell consistently delivers great insights.  This post stands out for highlighting the library’s role in student success.

2. Foasberg, N. M. (2015). From standards to frameworks for IL: How the ACRL Framework addresses critiques of the Standards. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 15(4), 699–717.

Foasberg contrasts the theories and philosophies behind the ACRL Framework with those underlying the ACRL Standards.  If I were to recommend one article as an explanation of the Framework, this would be the one.

3. Hinchliffe, L. J. (2015). Professional development for assessment: Lessons from reflective practice. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(6), 850–852. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2015.10.004

If scholarship is a conversation, this piece is a conversation among big names in information literacy.  Given the pressure on academic libraries–and their parent institutions–to prove their value , the topic is timely.

4. Keegan, T., & McElroy, K. (2015, August 26). Archives alive!: Librarian-faculty collaboration and an alternative to the five-page paper [Blog post].  Retrieved from

This post offers both a useful assignment idea and an example of collaboration.  The collaborators’ behind-the-scenes reflections add value.

5. LeBlanc, R. E., & Quintiliano, B. (2015). Recycling C.R.A.P.: Reframing a popular research mnemonic for library instruction.  Pennsylvania Libraries, 3(2), 115-121. doi: 10.5195/palrap.2015.105

The authors take the old C.R. A. P. (Currency, Reliability, Authority, Purpose) acronym and retool it to spark discussion on the ACRL Framework.  Their version stands for Conversation, Revision, Authority, and Property (pp. 116-117).  As an alternative LeBlanc and Quintiliano also offer the C.R.A.V.E. (Conversation, Revision, Authority, Value, and Exploration) mnemonic.

Next week I’ll share the remaining five items on my list.  Until then I wish you and yours a wonderful new year.

Posted by on December 31st, 2015 Comments Off

Happy Holidays 2015 (InfoSavvy)

Evergreen decorated with lights and ornaments

I wish you and yours a safe, joyous Holiday season!  Stay tuned for more posts in the coming year.

Posted by on December 23rd, 2015 Comments Off

Recipes and developing research expertise (InfoSavvy)

Dinner with a roast, some vegetables, and trimmings

Image from

During a recent webinar (Hanick & Townsend, 2015) the presenters contrasted how experts work with how novices work.  The remarks made me think of how I gain expertise with my Holiday dishes.

Hanick and Townsend (2015) described expert knowledge as tacit and difficult to convey.  They also highlighted the creativity of experts.

My grandmother, who cooked without recipes, could not easily teach me her dishes:  I rely on recipes.  Depending on the recipe I may need several tries before I am confident with it.  Once I have the way of a recipe, though, I can play with it.

What does this mean for information literacy?  Novice students may need repeated practice with research.  Also, not all students reach the same comfort level with a research concept at the same time.

When and where can students gain the expertise to research creatively?  How do we provide the opportunities for practice?


Hanick, S. L., & Townsend, L. (2015, November 17).  ACRL SLILC big picture theory and the practical classroom: Threshold concepts and information literacy instruction [Video file].  Retrieved from


Posted by on December 17th, 2015 Comments Off

Finals stress and information habits (InfoSavvy)

Aromatherapy candle and oils

Image from

The semester’s end can be stressful for students, faculty, and staff alike.  Here is a link (Dunn, 2012) with stress reduction tips

End Games: Preparing Well for Final Exams (Psychology Today)

Notice that the tips (in different ways)  emphasize preparedness.  Preparedness involves using information and developing habits.

Likewise the ACRL Framework (2015, Introduction section, para. 3) includes “practices, and habits of mind” in its very definition of information literacy.  Here’s wishing you a less stressful end of semester.


Association of College & Research Libraries. (2015).  Framework for information literacy for higher education. Retrieved from ACRL website :

Dunn, D. S. (2012, Apr 17).  End games: Preparing well for final exams [Blog post].  Retrieved from




Posted by on December 10th, 2015 Comments Off