School Librarians’ Wish Lists for Teaching Information Literacy

SLJ asked librarians to describe the best tools they could imagine to teach information literacy—and got more than simple answers.

 SLJ asked librarians to describe the best tools to teach information literacy—and got more than simple answers.

A Chromebook app, a Google extension, a workbook (or website), short videos, or scaffolded curriculum. There was no shortage of answers when we asked librarians responding to SLJ's Information Literacy/College Readiness survey what their “perfect resource” would be to teach information literacy.

The answers—87 in all—were varied, from the fantastical to the downright practical. One librarian requested a special theater where a performance would show students how to navigate different resources from tech devices provided at each seat, allowing the students to accrue points for correct answers and the use of good resources. “Impossible, but it sounds like it would work for our population,” she wrote.

Another simply stated, “Honestly, the most needed ‘resource’ is time” required to co-plan with teachers, create instruction, and teach the content to students.

Creating a wish list can sound like a frivolous exercise. After all, there’s obviously no one resource that would work for teaching information literacy to students in grades 6–12 of various learning abilities while they are taking different subjects. “I like using various resources because that is research. In post-secondary life, things won’t all be in one place,” one respondent wrote.

But the accumulation of answers does start to shed some light on best practices and pass along examples of existing resources that can be used. Checkology, Common Sense Media, Follett’s Destiny Discover, Google Classroom, NoodleTools, and ProQuest’s RefWorks were just some of the products name-checked to indicate that librarians use them.

“There are so many resources out there, which is great. But it can be hard to parse through stuff and find what’s most useful,” said one librarian.

Other respondents veered away from products to call for a curriculum that would include resources and be able to meet different students at various learning levels in different classes. “Collaborating with content or grade-level educators is the best way to create relevant information literacy instruction,” said Georgina Trebbe, the information specialist at Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham, MA.

Still others went big picture, asking that teachers, administrators, and in some cases the school board, buy in to the concept of information literacy by making sure there is enough time to teach concepts thoroughly. One person pleaded for more time, saying that covering this topic only during ninth grade wasn’t enough for high schoolers.

“We need the time to take students from the familiar to having them explore the unfamiliar, giving them an opportunity to dive deep into a topic while doing so,” said Colleen Simpson, a library media specialist at Gates Middle School in Scituate, MA.

One attribute that came through clearly in the survey was something not mentioned by any respondent but, in some ways, referenced by all of them. Each answer, from the pithy—“an army of me to work one-on-one with each student”—to the verbose—numerous responses spilled over 75 words—showed both how important teaching information literacy is to each librarian, and how passionate they are about their work.—Wayne D’Orio

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Kathryn Trowbridge

I wish we could have the TRAILS (assessment) funded and kept running. Anyone out there want to step up? @FollettEdu @SLJ?

Posted : Nov 06, 2019 09:10


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