Sunday, June 13, 2004

INFORMATION LITERACY FOR THE SKEPTICAL LIBRARY DIRECTOR This is by Patricia S. Breivik. IT was presented at the 2000 IATUL Conference Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 3rd - 7th July, 2000.

From the site:

In the United States in the 1980s, there was a major educational reform effort that focused on both K-12 and higher education. During those years it seemed that every organization that had anything to do with education, and a lot that had nothing to do with education, wrote a report on how the educational system in America was not working and recommended how things should change. One of the things that was really remarkable about these reports which tapered off at the end of the 80's (so we're talking only 20 years ago) was that only two of them mentioned libraries. Not only did they not mention libraries, they didn't mention information technology. They didn't even mention the Information Age, even though Alvin Toffler 1 years before had sent out the alert that we were in the Information Age. So it was remarkable that so many brilliant people, or at least people who thought they were brilliant, could be suggesting how to reform education while ignoring the world in which current and all future generations were going to live and work.

So in a spirit of frustration and concern Bob Wedgeworth, who was at one time Executive Director of the American Library Association and at that time Dean of the library school at Columbia, and I got together. I had called him and said, “We need to change higher education; and, if you want to be part of doing that, let's meet for breakfast before you fly back to New York City.” I remember that he laughed and said “Well, you're not going to tell me anything more about this are you?” and I replied “No, not until we meet.” We got together the next morning and came up with an idea. It was for a one time collaboration between the University of Colorado, where I was working, and Columbia University. With support form the CU President and others at Columbia, we organized a higher education summit. We also invited not only librarians, but the highest, most prestigious people from higher education including Ernie Boyer, whom some of you may know. His book, College: the Undergraduate Experience in America 2 came out very late in the reform effort and was the only one which envisioned a role for libraries in the improvement of learning. In it he said it was important for students to spend as much time in the library as they did in the classroom learning how to use the whole range of information resources. We invited this esteemed higher education leader, and he came! And others did too. Going into the conference, we didn't know what would happen. Would they just laugh at us? That was a possibility, but we also knew that nothing would change if we did not take the risk. Then we locked them away in old New York Governor Harriman's estate on the Hudson River, and for three days we talked about the role of libraries in quality education.

Out of the conference came a book 3, but more importantly out of it came the beginning of the information literacy movement, as we know it today. One of the people at that conference was Margaret Chisholm, the incoming president of the American Library Association, and she called me and said, “This is too important to stop here. And it's got to be expanded to include K-12. Do you think we can get together a prestigious enough group of educational leaders to come together with librarians to continue this dialogue?” And that's what we did. We recruited to the effort people like the Executive Director of the American Association of School Administrators and the Executive Director of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education. Seven education leaders came together with six librarians and produced in 1989 the ALA Presidential Committee on Information Literacy Final Report 4 which was released in Washington, DC, as part of the ALA Midwinter meeting at a press conference.

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