someone else’s blog: In the Library with the Lead Pipe again


This time about being forensic librarians.

The authors of this article were studying ways that “information literacy could be more alive and integrated within the discourse of academic work.  It could be more applicable across disciplines and genres and rhetorical goals.”

They “had always said that information literacy was more than a discrete set of research skills” and could see, through studying students’ papers, that they “could trace the far richer information literacy habits of mind.” They showed three dimensions of patterns, Attribution, Evaluation, and Communication, and then these were “codified into a rubric and used to help us investigate our students’ habits of mind.”

Attribution is something that they had initially thought of as to do with citation, though this was quickly abandoned when they realized that in-paper consistency was more important than overall style guidelines.  As such, the authors now “help students understand citation as context.”  Students are encouraged to cite, yes, but it is most important to cite what may seem like “common knowledge” to them when they think “their readers would like to have the option of knowing more about that topic.”

Evaluation of sources was a similar matter.  “Non-research” classes were taught to find sources that would “help them understand their primary sources,” such as sources that give information about literary texts the students are writing papers on.  Research papers were shifted to being taught that “bibliographies [are] representations of intellectual choice designed to present the most convincing claims possible.”  You don’t shove everything you can into the paper, you shove the most relevant and effective research into the paper.

Communication, the final component, is about students using the evidence they have found and doing so in their own voices.  Librarians may not be content specialists, but knowing how students want to and do communicate their research “helps [them] continuously improve how [they] teach familiar topics.”  This shows the importance of librarians teaching students how to integrate researched materials into their papers.

Reading articles like this reminds me that yes, librarianship does involve some teaching.  But being able to teach these skills is fundamental, in my opinion; poorly put-together papers are, after all, depressing, but the need to put together such material is found in almost any profession and does teach fundamental life skills into the bargain.


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