Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Changing Paradigms, New Partnerships: Information Literacy Programs in Educational Libraries. This essay is by Beth McLaren. It was presented in 1999 at a conference in Australia.

From the site:

Library education has traditionally been focussed on access skills and bibliographic tools. Teaching clients to make the most effective use of library systems has been seen as giving clients information skills.

Evelyn Waugh (1961) wrote in support of indexing novels, claiming to have a translation of Tolstoy’s Restoration with a ‘particularly felicitous index. The first entry is ‘Adultery, 13, 53, 68, 70’ and the last is ‘Why do people punish? 358.’ Between them occurs such items as: Cannibalism, Dogs, Good breeding, Justification of one’s position, Seduction, Smoking, Spies and Vegetarianism.

Other ‘felicitous indexes’ have featured largely in library education sessions yet students may still not be able to use these independently. Many require further assistance when using library systems in other libraries. There appears to be little transfer of skills from the library education session to their application in a real information task.

Writing in 1990 Tom Eadie challenged the value of traditional ‘user education programs’, suggesting that ‘the problem with user education is that it provides the answer before the question has arisen’.

He claims ‘This is presumptuous. It may even be superfluous.’ (p. 45).

There is growing support for the proposition that effective library education programs develop broad information literacy skills which are seen as an essential foundation upon which to base lifelong learning.

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