How Will An Endowed Chair In Information Literacy Help?

Purdue University announced that it will create the first endowed chair in information literacy in the nation, as a result of a generous $2.5 million gift. While I applaud this pioneering development, as it will certainly promote information literacy at Purdue and perhaps raise the profile of information literacy beyond their campus, I have to question it as well. In part, the holder of the chair will lead research projects into information literacy. Nice, but in the last 20 years perhaps 5,000 articles or more have been written about information literacy, not to mention loads of presentations, so why create a research position of this sort. I’d be far more impressed if Purdue announced that it was funding programs to allow faculty members to commit to collaborating with their librarians to take full responsibility for teaching students to become information literate. That’s what we need in higher education – real action to establish faculty-led and librarian supported information literacy – not more research by and for librarians. Perhaps they’ll use some of the funds for programs directed at faculty, which I would encourage and welcome. Who knows, it might result in some resources and techniques that could be replicated elsewhere.

3 thoughts on “How Will An Endowed Chair In Information Literacy Help?”

  1. The complete press release does suggest that the goal of information literacy across the curriculum is a foundational element of what this position would support, so I think there is hope there.

    Another interesting question is how this position, while the first “endowed chair” in the field relates to, for example, the faculty position at George Mason University announced 18 months ago and currently held by Darren Cambridge, Assistant Professor of Internet Studies and Information Literacy.

    I’ll be interested to see the Purdue position posted.

  2. Interesting – my take on it is that this is a sign that IL is becoming more mainstream and considered permanent, not a fad (even, perhaps, approaching a discipline?). Not only permanent, but a role that carries with it some real distinction.

    What will be interesting is how “information literacy” is defined – and as I said over on ILI-L, this may be a defining moment in more than one sense of the word.

  3. While I agree that there has been a plethora of articles about information literacy (and information literacy instruction as well), the research base isn’t actually that robust. As the co-editor of a journal, I welcome the advent of an age (dare I hope?) of information literacy (and info lit instruction) *research* and will be most happy to receive resultant articles for consideration for publication.

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