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Info Lit Journal Club discussion on Barbara Fister’s keynote

If you’re interested in expanding your views concerning librarianship, academia and where information literacy fits in, then you might be interested in joining this discussion on Information Literacy Journal Club tomorrow. Barbara Fister gave the keynote at the LOEX conference in May. I didn’t attend but her keynote is available for reading. I love presentations like this, the ones that make you gasp with disfavor while also making you think “well, maybe…ya”. She has a great way of dissecting our current practice and theories, then throwing them back at you along with a big honkin’ question mark as in “Really? Is this really how we should do things?”.

She offers six outrageous (her words) claims:

  1. Research papers should not be part of the first years experience
  2. We should stop teaching students how to find sources.
  3. Very rarely are citations needed.
  4. We should stop policing plagiarism.
  5. We should stop implying that “scholarly” means “good”.

I almost feel dirty for agreeing with some of these.  But I really think this is exactly what we need right now.  For the past few years, the concept of information literacy has become rather big and almost unmangeable. We try to keep up by redefining or renaming it (transliteracy, digital literacy, metaliteracy), probably focusing a little too much on the semantics.  Hopefully this discussion will encourage a whole new perspective.

I think her claims probably feel threatening, because if you begin applying some of them to what we do as librarians, it almost puts our entire profession into a bigger limbo.  Teaching students how to find sources, encouraging them to use scholarly material, these are all things that have defined what we do for a long time.  Take them away and we begin to feel irrelevant.

However, in reality, I think it does the opposite.  It gives us permission to completely re-imagine our role, one that supports long lasting and meaningful learning for our students.