You Won’t Discover Much About Academic Librarians In This Discovery Tool

I’m a big fan of EDUCAUSE publications. From the regular magazines such as EDUCAUSE Quarterly and EDUCAUSE Review, to the many white papers, and the Seven Things You Need to Know series, I think EDUCAUSE has radically raised the bar for what an association can accomplish with its publications. I’m sure ACRL pays attention to this, and is seeking to raise its bar as well. So I was somewhat disappointed when I examined the just released ELI Discovery Tool: Net Generation Workshop Guide. Here is the description:

The ELI Discovery Tool: Net Generation Workshop Guide is designed as an action-oriented, modifiable resource for faculty development and other instructional uses. We have focused on the Net Generation because serves as a starting point for many other discussions about active learning, emerging technologies, information fluency, learning space design, and assessment.

Sounds interesting, right. Here’s a resource I can use to design faculty development programs. The guide has 9 different educational units that can be offered individually or as a group. Each module is designed to produce a two-hour workshop. So far it’s all good. But things really fell flat when I examined the module on information literacy (see unit 8). I will give kudos to EDUCAUSE for at least including it in a learning guide geared to help faculty understand the millennial generation. If nothing else it might help to create some awareness among our faculty.

But reading this guide you wouldn’t know that librarians had anything to do with information literacy programming. There isn’t a single mention of the word “librarian” and there is no suggested activity that involves librarians. I know that academic librarians don’t own information literacy, but at a minimum couldn’t the “follow-up” section even suggest something like “talk to your campus librarians about developing an information literacy initiative” or “find out what your campus librarians are doing to help students develop better research skills”. And while I have great respect for Diana Oblinger, to look at the resources listed in the guide you’d think she was the only person who ever authored a publication about information literacy – not even a link to ACRL’s information literacy resource page?

I know that ACRL has a program to organize its effort to reach out to other associations to develop joint efforts to promote the goals of the association. I know our ACRL colleagues can’t be aware of everything that’s happening at its partner associations, but did something fall through the cracks here? I can imagine few things more central to ACRL’s mission than an EDUCAUSE publication designed to educate faculty about information literacy. It seems there were some opportunities for inter-association communication here, but it looks like that just didn’t happen in this case. I hope that the next time EDUCAUSE is developing educational or programmatic materials about information literacy or any issues in which ACRL has a vested interest some cooperative interaction will be a part of the process.

4 thoughts on “You Won’t Discover Much About Academic Librarians In This Discovery Tool

  1. “But reading this guide you wouldn’t know that librarians had anything to do with information literacy programming. …

    Why should anyone think of the library in this context? The Library is for books and study areas, surely, and Google and Wikipedia are for the info juice? ;-)

    Anyway, if it’s the case that we have to ““find out what your campus librarians are doing to help students develop better research skills” ” then doesn’t this suggest that the Library is failing in its duty to make people aware that it is a centre for info literacy?

    At The Open University, members of our library info literacy team actually approached one of the short course programmes, proposed and largely wrote a course that now runs online twice a year: “Beyond Google: Working With Information Online” – http://ouseful.open.ac.uk/tu120

    Engagement is maybe a two way thing?To take a bad example – books – I can (or can, using browser extensions, find ways of) linking to my library from Google Scholar, Google Books, Amazon and so on. Can I look up related book info from Google Books, or Library Thing, from my library?

    Just by the by, how come the libraries never rumbled the fact they keep buying the same old stuff from multiple sources ( http://blogs.nature.com/wp/nascent/2008/01/some_papers_are_more_equal_tha.html ), rather than taking issue with the publishers? ;-)

  2. Actually, from reading this document, you wouldn’t know that any organization other than Educause was interested in information literacy. This tool looks to me to be an after-the-fact package for Educause publications.

    Doesn’t mean it won’t be useful or valuable, but the only resource this ELI tool is designed to enhance use of is Educause — which makes it inherently ‘less than’ it could be.

  3. Steven we invite feedback on our resources and appreciate yours on the ELI Net Gen Discovery Tool. I will note that we were very careful to reach out and work with ACRL on developing net savvy resources and were represented on the Advisory Group that planned the ELI Fall 2007 Focus Session’s “Being Net Savvy” program. It is pure oversight that “librarian” and ACRL’s material aren’t cited in this one piece of the discovery tool and we will correct.

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