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Archive for March, 2007

I am planning to update this blog much more regularly and I have a lot of things I want to add, I just haven’t been able to the past couple of weeks. I’m still getting caught up on things at work after 6 months of family leave (even though I’ve been back four months now!) and a 10 month old baby at home keeps me too busy to look at a computer when I get home.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the nature of my position as an academic librarian. What exactly is my role and do I have any larger mission or goals? Am I an educator, a curator, a guide, a service representative, a researcher, a scholar? Does my role as librarian extend beyond the campus? The role of the public librarian has always been much clearer I think.

If anyone has any ideas on this I would love to hear them. If you are not an academic librarian yourself, I would be very interested to know your impressions.

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The Trouble with Drupal

Ok. I’m having a bit of a hard time with Drupal. I’ve been exploring ways we might improve our library website by adding many new Web 2.0 features. Everything I’ve been reading has pointed to Drupal being the best option for us, but I wanted to get my hands on it and play around a little to see what could be done with it.

The setup wasn’t too difficult, but since then I’ve run into a few problems. I really like the administration options and am quite excited about what it might be possible to do with the system, but I find the content creation to be very confusing. I really don’t understand the system of blocks, nodules, menus, pages, blogs, and stories. It’s unlike anything else I’ve used before and I really haven’t found the forum or manuals to be very helpful. I’m sure I’ll figure it out, but for now I’m feeling very frustrated.

In an attempt to make the content creation a little easier, I tried to install a wysiwyg editor module (TinyMCE). This had the unintended consequence of shutting me out of my site administration and the only way to remedy the situation seemed to be to delete Drupal from the server and try it all over again. Well, I forgot to delete the database from the server before I tried to reinstall, so I had to do it all once again.

I’m sure I’ll get it all worked out eventually, but there is definitely a learning curve here.

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Although I’ve been interested in critical education for some time, I never really thought about applying it directly to information literacy before. It has always been part of my overall philosophy in the classroom, but my experience with information literacy in the classroom has been focused primarily on skills training. I have to thank James Elmborg, for changing that and inspiring me to think differently about my role as librarian and educator. His article, “Critical Information Literacy: implications for instructional practice,”was really the beginning of a new direction for me and has allowed me to get excited about my profession again.

A number of other librarians have been writing about the need for a critical information literacy (I’ll include a brief bibliography at the end of this post), but it is still a relatively new idea and is currently lacking a fully developed theory and an idea of what that theory might mean in practical terms. I know that it will definitely require some work on the part of librarians to change current attitudes about the role of librarians as instructors. There have been a few attempts to put together some critical information literacy courses (I’ll include some of these in a future post) and they look very good, but I think it might be a long time before we can offer a full course in information literacy at my institution. I suspect this will be the case at many other colleges and universities and the problem is even greater for public and school libraries.

In this blog, I would like to try to further develop a theory of critical information literacy and share ideas about different methods for teaching people to think about information critically and to apply critical theory to our role as collectors, organizers, searchers, and creators of information. Any and all input from others interested in these issues would be much appreciated.

Critical Information Literacy: an incomplete bibliography

Doherty, John J., “Empowering the Intentional Learner: A Critical Theory for Information Literacy Instruction,” Library Philosophy and Practice 8, 1 (2005).

Doherty, John J., “Towards Self-Reflection in Librarianship: What is Praxis?” Progressive Librarian, Issue 26, Winter 2005/2006.
Elmborg, James, “Critical Information Literacy: Implications for Instructional Practice,” Journal of Academic Librarianship 32, 2 (2006): 192-199.

Holschuh Simmons, Michelle, “Librarians as Disciplinary Discourse Mediators: Using Genre Theory to Move Toward Critical Information Literacy,” Portal: Libraries and the Academy 5, 3 (2005): 297

Kapitzke,Cushla, “Information Literacy: A Positivist Epistemology and a Politics of Outformation,” Educational Theory 53(1)

Kapitzke,Cushla, “Information Literacy: The Changing Library,” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 44, 5 (February 2001): 452.

Lankshear, C., Snyder, I., & Green, B. (2000). Teachers and technoliteracy: Managing literacy, technology and learning in schools. St. Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Luke, Allan, & Cushla Kapitzke, “Literacies and Libraries: archives and cybraries,” Curriculum Studies 7, 3 (1999): 467-491.

Swanson, Troy A., “A Radical Step: Implementing a Critical Information Literacy Model,” portal: Libraries and the Academy 4, 2 (2004): 259-273.

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