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Metrolina Conference 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 2:37 pm

Metrolina 5th Annual Information Literacy Conference

17 June 2010, Charlotte, NC

This was the first Metrolina Information Literacy Conference I’ve attended, with a program that prompted some dithering over which sessions to choose-always a positive sign.

“Information Literacy Examined in Multicultural Context,” presented by keynote speaker Dr. Clara Chu of the Department of Library and Information Studies at UNCG, was the most thought-provoking of all the talks. Grounded at once in theory as well as in personal conviction and at times painful life experience, the lecture commenced by stressing the vast amount of information that inundates us every day, but adding that although we now have unprecedented access to diverse sources of information it is also difficult to distinguish information from noise and inaccuracy. Professor Chu defined a range of types of diversity: human diversity as broadly encompassing physical differences, life experiences, and personal preferences; cultural diversity as different beliefs, values, and personal characteristics; and systems diversity as variable organizational structure and management. She singled out the importance of critical literacy which fosters diverse ways of looking at information , questioning attitudes, values, and beliefs, and enabling one to uncover social inequality and injustice, as a means of being an agent of social change.

Multicultural literacy is the knowledge of culture and language. From feminist studies Chu singled out positionality, whereby one recognizes what one brings to the table in terms of social demographics, cultural characteristics, and language. She listed evaluation criteria for multicultural content or multimedia materials:

  1. Objectivity or bias such as racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, homophobia, or ageism; this is characterized by unrealistic representation, imbalance, omission, stereotyping, and fragmentation. For example, a library may have information about a community but not BY the community, inadvertently omitting their own voices. Counter-narratives tell the other story, affording perspectives that run counter to the presumed ones and alternatives to the dominant discourse.
  2. Language diversity, variance within languages, and language bias, once again bearing the potential for racism, sexism, homophobia, or ageism with loaded terminology, ridicule, exaggeration, mispronunciation, slander, or offensiveness. She raised the question of whether libraries are doing enough to provide multi-language access, and suggested using an approximate tool such as google translator.
  3. Subject, such as scope, authority, authenticity, and accuracy.
  4. Resources imbalance or selectivity, invisibility or omission, scope, diversity of format perspective and language.

Finally, she addressed cultural competency, which includes ethnic competence and an awareness of one’s own cultural limitations. By way of example, she listed characteristics of American culture: self-expression, equality, and informality, achievement, self control of destiny, individualism and authority in non-authoritarian relationships. By contrast, a Latino/a patron might be characterized by allocentrism (community orientation), simpatico, familialism, personal space issues, time orientation, gender roles, and respect for authority. Cultural competence also includes openness to cultural differences, utilizing cultural resources, and acknowledgement of cultural integrity. Multicultural literacy, she emphasized, is prominently one of the literacies of the twenty-first century.

“Classroom 2.0: Bringing Interactivity into Library Instruction,” presented by Jenny Dale, Amy Harris, and Lynda Kellam of UNCG, was an engaging and predictably interactive session. Prefacing the session with a nod to instructional design, which is intended to make the knowledge transfer happen in a deliberate, systematic, and appealing way, the group went on to advocate for interactivity as a means of engaging students and distributing power and responsibility. A few “Think-Pair-Share” sessions demonstrated the merit of interactivity as we variously pondered and proffered rationales for interactivity or the merits/demerits of our assorted libraries. Another exercise actually got us out of our seats as we wandered about the room in a modified reprise of the old “Sardines” childhood game, bearing slips of paper and searching for research statements and related keywords where we might all legitimately congregate together. It is always enormously helpful to get ideas for interactive strategies, so this was a particularly useful, pragmatic session.

“Teach Smarter Not Harder: Classroom Tips and Techniques,” with Sherry Bagwell, a retired educator from the Greenville County Schools, SC, was the one session that proved to be less than useful. The brief summary in the conference program had not indicated that the intended audience was in fact public school librarians and teachers, so although there were numerous tips and suggestions, they were not really germane to our higher education setting-and happily so, since many referred to problematic situations and behaviors, which we seem to be blissfully ignorant of and largely immune to, as far as I’m aware. She outlined core beliefs in the primacy of caring and the inevitability of conflict, and warned against attaching rewards to grades or to behavior. Behavior can be changed and good behavior must be taught, and good discipline is timely discipline. There was some discussion about different types of teachers: authoritative, permissive, and authoritarian, and the situations in which various approaches might tend to emerge.

Finally, I attended Mary Scanlon’s excellent session, “Increasing Intellectual Engagement in an Info-lit Class for Business Majors.” Her voice projecting valiantly through the ravages of persistent laryngitis, Mary described challenges in teaching an advanced business research course, as well as considerations in devising solutions. She cited numerous distractions for students: the numerous and diverse types of resources, databases and web sites, and the elusive critical thinking process that may or may not enable a student to connect a need with a germane resource. She sought approaches that would hold the students’ migratory attention spans and assignments that would reinforce knowledge and engage students with the research materials. She nonetheless had to bear in mind students’ frequently articulated expectations of the appropriate workload for a one-credit course(familiar, anyone?). Mary offered numerous tactics, including the following:

More graded, hands-on activities, including student presentations (e.g. students responsible in groups for teaching databases)

More of the course grade dependent on intellectual engagement with material (via the class blog and discussion), worksheets, and quizzes

In order to focus students’ attention, she consolidated the syllabus to four primary topics: company information, industry information, market research, and accounting information; and she covered fewer resources, two or three per topic with more time devoted to each and attention to drawing parallels among the resources.

She devised worksheets that were essentially guided note-taking, and were completed during class sessions. In these worksheets students were to describe contents and to list tools for refining a search and for managing results. Quizzes reinforced class content and applied tools learned in class, and written reports, 2-3 pages in length, required the use of certain resources, and were skill-based, involving critical thinking and integrating information from multiple sources.

Tactics to engage student attention included daily group presentations, weekly blog postings, and class discussion. Students had to teach databases, for which she provided initial orientation by way of jing videos.

In conclusion, course components that worked well included the worksheets, quizzes, written reports, database presentations, the final presentation, and the frequent feedback. Less successful were the information topics which did not seem to engage the students, who failed to think through all the issues. These topics were e-readers, Google Books, the decline of print newspapers, and Net neutrality, and the discussion that ensued offered suggestions for alternative topics or approaches. Outcomes for the course included higher grades, better coursework –especially the reports, and course evaluations.

This was a very useful, focused conference, and I hope to attend more in future years.

Metrolina Information LiteracyConference

Friday, June 18, 2010 1:35 pm

On Thursday, June 17, a group of ZSR librarians (Bobbie Collins, Carolyn McCallum, Molly Keener, Roz Tedford, Ellen Daugman, and Mary Scanlon) attended the 5th Annual Information Literacy Conference in Charlotte. This is the third year that I have attended the Metrolina Conference, and it gets better every year!

While enjoying a quick continental breakfast, I took time to review the conference schedule and made somenotes on which breakout programs to attend during the day. As usual, this conference was well organized and provided an opportunity for participants to select from a wide-variety of excellent programs on information literacy.

The first thing on the morning agenda was the opening keynote presentation. The speaker was Dr. Clara M. Chu, Department Chair and Professor, Department of Library and Information Studies at UNCG. Her presentation focused on “Information Literacy Examined in Multicultural Context.” In her opening remarks, Dr. Chu mentioned that in 2009 President Obama proclaimed October as National Information Literacy Awareness Month:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/presidential-proclamation-national-information-literacy-awareness-month/

She noted that in the President’s proclamation he stated that “Americans have unprecedented access to the diverse and independent sources of information, as well as institutions such as libraries and universities, that can help separate truth from fiction and signal from noise.” Obama’s proclamation reinforces the importance of lifelong learning and the library’s involvement in promoting information literacy activities and programs.

In 2000, Dr. Chu published an article in Reference & User Services Quarterly entitled “See, hear, and speak no evil: A content approach to evaluating multicultural multimedia materials.” During her presentation, Dr. Chu made reference to her research and discussed four components to consider when evaluating materials: objectivity/bias, language use, subject mastery, and resources. According to Chu, we live in “multicultural societies and teach in multicultural settings.” Being aware of cultural values and traditions of learners, instructors can apply culturally responsive teaching principles to the classroom.

This year it was extremely difficult to decide which of the breakout sessions to attend. One of the breakout sessions focused on students as lifelong learners. The presenter was Joe Eshleman (Johnson & Wales University). His intriguing title (“Show me the value”) immediately caught my attention and so I decided to attend this session. To stimulate the discussion, Eshleman posed several questions. For example, one question was: “What does it mean to an individual to be information literate outside of the educational context?” There was a lively exchange of ideas and opinions among the participants with many sharing some great insights.

In the afternoon, I attend Roz and Molly’s presentation on using documentary film in IL instruction and Mary Scanlon’s presentation on info-lit for business majors. All of the ZSR presenters did an excellent job, and I came away with a lot of new ideas.

It was a beautiful day to attend a conference. The facilities at Johnson and Wales provided a relaxing setting to enjoy the presentations and reflect on the topic of information literacy. Also the conference provided an opportunity to connect with some IL colleagues and make some new friends in the process.

Metrolina Information Literacy Conference

Friday, June 18, 2010 11:37 am

Yesterday I attended the Metrolina Library Association 5th Annual Information Literacy Conference. As Roz noted, ZSR was well represented by both attendees and presenters (Carolyn, Bobbie, Ellen, Mary S., Roz, and I), and I enjoyed catching up with colleagues from both ZSR and my UNCG days, as well as make new acquaintances during breaks. Being a smaller conference enabled good connections and conversation throughout the day, but the small size did not mean that the presenters had small impact – quite the contrary, especially for me, still new to IL instruction!

Dr. Clara M. Chu, chair of the LIS department at UNCG, opened the conference with her keynote, “Information Literacy Examined in Multicultural Context.” She made the point that multicultural literacy embraces both information literacy and critical literacy in knowledge of cultures and languages, and pointed out that problems arise when we think that one difference is better than another. She also noted that we need to be aware of positionality: recognizing what we bring to the table (e.g., socio-demographics, cultural characteristics, language). We need to teach our students to look at information from critical, multicultural perspectives, and practice reflexive ethics. We also need to be aware of identifying counter-narratives or alternatives to the dominant discourse. As WFU’s student body continues to diversify, I believe that there will be increasing opportunities to discuss multicultural literacy in LIB100 courses.

The first breakout session I attended was a presentation by Joe Eshleman, Johnson & Wales University-Charlotte, focusing on strategies and content to use in IL instruction that helps emphasize the significance of IL to students’ futures. Students need to understand that whether they know it or not, they apply principles of IL whenever they look for information, be it on which cell phone to purchase to which resource will help with their paper. They’ve done it, they do it, and they’ll continue to do it! I have a lot of scribbled margin notes with ideas that the discussion from this session sparked for future LIB100 use that will hopefully help students see past IL as library/education-only to real-life applicability.

After a delicious lunch (thank you, culinary institute food services!), Roz and I gave our presentation on using documentary films in an IL class. Participants seemed genuinely interested in our approach, and we had great questions and suggestions that fueled conversation. And although it wasn’t technically part of our presentation, Roz discussed our faculty status and I shared insights on IL instruction as a new instructor, two tangential topics that were of interest to many in the room.

The final breakout session I attended was specifically for new instructors, which seemed like the perfect place to end my day. Donna Gunter and Stephanie Otis from UNCC created a survival guide of best practices for new instructors. Partnering with Roz to teach LIB100 this past spring, and tagging along on several BI sessions for FYS during the winter, gave me a good grounding in survival tactics for IL instruction, and this session confirmed much of what I already knew. However, I still came away with ideas for classroom management, and the reminder that we cannot teach all of them all things but we can provide a solid grounding (always good to hear!).

All in all, my first immersion into an IL conference was thought-provoking and fun, and I would definitely return to the Metrolina conference in the future!

Roz at Metrolina Conference

Friday, June 18, 2010 10:21 am

Yesterday, six of us (Mary S., Ellen, Carolyn, Molly, Bobbie and myself) attended the Metrolina Library Association’s 5th Annual Information Literacy Conference in Charlotte. This was my first time but others had been in the past and gave it high marks. I have to say it was a really great day, and not just because it was hosted by Johnson & Wales University. Those who know me know that I have this not-so-secret desire to go to culinary school, so the location was great and the food even better!

The opening keynote speaker was Dr. Clara Chu, from UNC-G’s Dept. of Library and Information Studies. She spoke on Information Literacy in a multicultural context. It was a thought provoking talk that covered issues ranging from being sure you use visual images that are diverse to recognizing diversity in a variety of different ways. One thing that I thought was interesting was how easy and important it can be to have the ability for student to translate library pages into their own language. If you don’t have fluent speakers on your staff to rewrite the content, then Google translator is a nice low-barrier way to provide multi-lingual content. Even if the translations are not perfect, they can be useful enough to make the patron feel more comfortable with you and your services and more likely to come in and ask for help. Lots to think about from Dr. Chu and she was around the rest of the day and attended sessions and brought up some great points in each about multiculturalism.

The firs session I attended was given by our friends Amy Harris, Jenny Dale and Lynda Kellam from UNC-G and it was about adding interactivity into one-shot library instruction sessions. Now, I have attended dozens of presentations over the years on this topic and I can say that this one was, by far, the most useful one I have attended. Many great ideas and examples were demonstrated that I fully plan on using in my instruction in the future. The one I liked the most I think was to hand out slips of paper to people in the class. On some of them have research questions, and on the rest have keywords. Then you have the students get up and try to match the keywords to the research question. Simple, but a really effective way to introduce or reinforce the ideas of keywords. Someone also suggested that for upper-level students or students who will be using books heavily you could also include some LC Subject Headings. Thus you could have “World War II” as a keyword and “World War, 1939-1945.” to begin the discussion of keyword searching vs. controlled vocabulary.

Molly and I were presenters during the second break-out session. Our presentation was about our use of documentary films in our LIB100 class this past Spring. It was well-attended and well received. I even came away with some ideas for other ways to use films. Dr. Chu was in our session and discussed how interesting it would be to find documentaries on the same subject created by people from different cultures, for example. We found, however, that there was a lot of interest in our faculty status process (we mentioned this in the presentation) so I think there is a presentation in there for some conference – perhaps NCLA where we can discuss the process we went through. I’d be happy to work on one with folks if there is interest.

The final presentation I went to was on library presence on mobile devices. It was given by Michael Winecoff from UNC-Charolotte and Beth Martin from Johnson C. Smith University. Both of these libraries have developed mobile web pages for their libraries that are exceptionally simple and would be easy to replicate. If you have a smart phone, use your web browser to go to http://library.uncc.edu to see what UNC-Charlotte has done. It has a very clean looking list of links. Two stood out to me: First is a ‘Call My Librarian’ list where you can pick your discipline and get a link to call the reference librarian for that department. They also have a simple floor guide and a way to see how many computers are free in the library. Johnson C. Smith has http://library.jcsu.edu/m which is an icon based page where they have links to the catalog, hours, etc. What is interesting here is that they have enabled EbscoHost Mobile which provides a nice interface to Ebsco databases on the smart phone. They mentioned that it worked best on iPhones and Droids, but I think it would be worth looking into. Both libraries are making the code available to anyone who wants it – JCSU got their from NC State who has a mobile web site at http://m.lib.ncsu.edu - they in turn got their code from MIT…..

Mobile interfaces from libraries have a way to go, but these two showed some very easy ways to have a presence on the smart phone without having to write an iPhone app or anything complicated. I was thinking it would be nice to have a way for our students to see if there were study rooms available an book them on their phones…..sorry Kevin……did I say that out loud ;)

Anyway – it was a good conference and I will likely go back next year. Very worthwhile!


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