Jan 16 2008
Top things – Part 2
How do I plan for the future?
I like to think that I have always had a strong vision for what I think a school library should look like. But we are reaching a period of such rapid change. I want to think this year about where I am heading as a school librarian and what I think our LRC will look like in five years time. Is this a tall order? It may be, but I think that it is necessary or I will lose my “golden compass”!
Many years ago, in my first school job – 1982! – I made a display called “Information Explosion”. I illustrated it with newspaper headlines cut out and radiating outwards. This seems so funny now when I think that I did not even have a computer in the library at the time!
So, what can we read to help us think ahead?
The papers over the last couple of days have been full of articles about the “Google Generation” and how academics are worried about students’ information-seeking behaviours.
This one in the Guardian Education section on the 15th January – Intellectual Literacy Hour - talks about a research report which is a must-read for any school librarian:
University College London (UCL) CIBER group.(2008) Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. London: University College London. CIBER Briefing paper; 9. http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/programmes/reppres/gg_final_keynote_11012008.pdf
This is the press release on the JISC website:
I have started to read the report and the following really struck a chord with me ( a precis of page 12):
“Themes for how children and young people use the internet:
- the information literacy of young people, has not improved with the widening access to technology: in fact, their apparent facility with computers disguises some worrying problems
Haven’t all of us who have been working in school libraries for some years been talking about this for ages? Students know how to play games and make lovely PowerPoints – but actually write something in their own words?
- internet research shows that the speed of young people’s web searching means that little time is spent in evaluating information, either for relevance, accuracy or authority
Speed is the key here, I think and a lack of understanding about authority. This is not much better for some of our staff colleagues – how many teachers recommend students to use Wikipedia, but do not teach them how to use it properly or the check with other sources?
- young people have a poor understanding of their information needs and thus find it difficult to develop effective search strategies
- as a result, they exhibit a strong preference for expressing themselves in natural language rather than analysing which key words might be more effective
How many school librarians get the opportunity to actually teach this? Many of us do, but maybe not often enough or not to an entire year group.
- faced with a long list of search hits, young people find it difficult to assess the relevance of the materials presented and often print off pages with no more than a perfunctory glance at them
This is despite all of the ICT teaching that they are apparently getting in schools. Is this not the “meat and drink” of a school librarian’s job?
… However, the ubiquitous use of highly branded search engines raises other issues:
- young people have unsophisticated mental maps of what the internet is, often failing to appreciate that it is a collection of networked resources from different providers
- as a result, the search engine, be that Yahoo or Google, becomes the primary brand that they associate with the internet
I recognise this easily – many students cite “Google” in bibliographies (if I can get them to make one).
- many young people do not find library-sponsored resources intuitive and therefore prefer to use Google or Yahoo instead: these offer a familiar, if simplistic solution, for their study needs
This is also somehting that I am thinking hard about. I spend ages making lists of evaluated web resources either on our VLE, the LRC’s website or in Del.icio.us. But then I turn around and see students back on Google!
Anyway – this post has been very long and I had better do some more reading from the report before I post any more thoughts…