12 April 2006

Is Information Literacy lip-service or a full-time concern in your library?

Quote of the week - “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
19th Century German Poet, Dramatist & Scientist
Is Information Literacy lip-service or a full-time concern in your library?
I have come to the conclusion that the implementation of information literacy initiatives for a Faculty is as successful as the time available to the librarian to allocate to this aspect of the multi-faceted role of a Liaison Librarian (LL). [All you need to do is read the position description of the present day LL and you wonder how they do all that they do, makes me wonder how I did all that I did in a 36 1/4 hr week.If you want to know have a look at www.seek.com and look at the librarian position descriptions for jobs currently advertised. The responsibility of some of these positions is astounding, almost like mini managers. Make sure you negotiate for the top level of pay with these top level responsibility positions]. The librarian needs time to 'think', 'plan’, 'reflect', 'assess', 'evaluate' information literacy and in most libraries, due to time constraints this is a very slow, infiltration into Faculty curriculum. It cannot be done properly without investing huge amounts of time and effort not only in the initial planning stages, but each term when the librarian teaches, evaluates and assesses any infolit which is required to backup the 'curriculum'. Most University libraries these days are fully supportive of their librarians’ Infolit initiatives, but what is lacking is an empathetic understanding as well as internal contingencies such as extra staff to appropriately cover LL’s for the TIME involved - INFOLIT is a FULL-TIME task. If an LL is also expected to devote large proportions of time to other in-house projects, infolit won’t happen in a hurry. Do you have an Information Literacy Librarian on your Reference Services team? Perhaps they could be doing the initial planning with you and then some, but only 1 person can be in 1 place at any one time. Oh! Utopia would have an infolit librarian AND a LL attached to every Faculty! {Now there’s a thought I just have to put in writing, a University Teaching Graduate Diploma in Information Literacy, these ‘infolit teachers’ could then be employed by each Faculty!} Of course there are Teaching & learning Advisors or Instructional Designers within most Universities, however their role is multi-faceted also, not specialising in information literacy and your curriculum. Of course the LL would still be needed to keep the infolit teachers and course academics up-to-date with library-specific issues. Library managers, particularly in academic libraries, need to take stock of infolit expectations and the time each librarian allocates to infolit. What I am trying to say is, How can anyone expect a BMW plan when there is only ever enough time for a horse & cart approach. Librarians need to sleep too. I know of 1 or 2 librarians who never had anything to do on weekends so they lived, ate and breathed infolit 24/7 and therefore had hundreds of plans which never came to fruition because there’s never enough hours in a day. However some of us make different choices and choose our partners and families to spend time with outside of work time. Anyway, it seems that time is the biggest factor for everyone, librarians and academics alike, so keep this in mind when starting any planning and get it in writing from your supervisor as to the ‘time’ allocated to each LL to devote to Information literacy Initiatives. Is this in a teaching and learning philosophy, What happens when you are called on to 'teach' or 'plan' infolit for more than the allotted time? i.e more than 10hrs per week during first weeks of term. Is there a contingency in place for the 'overly-infolitted-liaison-librarian?
Titles of upcoming posts:
* How do you implant information literacy into Faculties that offer ‘flexible’ programs?
* How do you implant information literacy into Faculties that offer ‘structured’ programs?
* Whither the practicalities of information literacy. Who teaches, who marks, How do you keep track?
* Anecdote of infolit infiltraton within a ‘flexible’ program faculty
* First Year University students and the Google Degree – Are your students Googling their way to a Degree?
* Anecdote of a library skills tutorial overhaul – why, how and who says?
HAPPY EASTER TO YOU ALL!! Chocolate is good in moderation, like most things, especially work!

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