The Information Literacy User's Guide: An Open, Online Textbook
Deborah Bernnard, University of Albany
Greg Bobish, University of Albany
Daryl Bullis, Babson College
Jenna Hecker, University of Albany
Irina Holden, University of Albany
Allison Hosier, University of Albany
Trudi Jacobson, University of Albany
Tor Loney, Albany Public Library
Copyright Year: 2014
ISBN 13: 9780989722629
Publisher: Open SUNY
Conditions of Use
The book is built around the SCONUL (British) Seven Pillars model with the addition of chapters on visual and science literacies. With a chapter dedicated to each Pillar, the book is quite comprehensive. There are topics I wish were covered and... read more
The book is built around the SCONUL (British) Seven Pillars model with the addition of chapters on visual and science literacies. With a chapter dedicated to each Pillar, the book is quite comprehensive. There are topics I wish were covered and others that I wish were covered differently or more in-depth, but there is a limit to how big the book can be and still be approachable for students. I feel it is about as comprehensive as a textbook can be. It can certainly be used as the only text for an information literacy course, though instructors may wish to be selective in the portions they use and to supplement instruction with other materials.
Overall the book content is accurate. There are some philosophical takes the authors promote that some may have issue with (I did), as other reviewers of this text have mentioned (e.g., regarding usefulness of social media and Wikipedia in research).
Despite being based on the Seven Pillars model, the text works well when course learning outcomes are written for and aligned with the ACRL Framework as mine is. Even instructors unfamiliar with Seven Pillars will find it approachable and easy to work with. Aside from web links, the content is likely to be relevant and useful for a long time. I started using this textbook in 2014 have found it to be consistently useful throughout this time. Instructors may choose to find more recent examples if they feel there are some that may better grab student attention, but the examples provided are appropriate for use over time.
Text is very readable, even if I wish some parts were more concise and others explained concepts more in-depth.
It is clear that the book is authored by several people rather than one. The reading level, tone, and writing style of the text changes periodically. Still, it seems to be working well enough for my students. Terminology, use/names of headers, etc., are consistent enough throughout.
It is very easy to assign specific chapters and sections of the book while leaving out the rest. Chapters are frequently and logically divided by headers, call-out boxes, and the like.
Organized in the order of the Seven Pillars, the text makes a logical progression.
No issues observed with the interface. Charts, diagrams, and images were overall helpful for understanding the text.
Errors in the text are rare, aside from some broken links. This is to be expected from a 2014 book with web links included. Instructors can update and edit the text if desired, thanks to the Creative Commons license it has, or provide alternative links for their students. Errors are more rampant in the citations, which is a missed opportunity for modeling sticking strictly to a citation format to students.
While not cultural insensitive, there is a great deal of room for this book to be more representative and inclusive. Common Western (American) names and scenarios are consistently used in examples. As for what the book explicitly teaches, the issues of bias are not adequately discussed. It is more important than ever that instruction on bias (recognizing it in others and identifying one's own) is a key part of information literacy learning.
My department has used this book as the core textbook in our Introduction to Academic Library Research (LS 101, 1 credit) course since 2014. We use just chapters 1, 5, 2, 3, 6 - in that order - along with a good amount of supplemental materials and hands-on units, in alignment with our course learning outcomes and the way we teach our course. It has served us well and we haven't felt the need to transition to a new textbook despite it being over 6 years old at this point. I would recommend that anyone teaching an information literacy course give this book serious consideration when evaluating the currently available openly licensed textbooks/OER.
The text covers all the pillars and provides additional links for further sources for the students. The content page is clear and provides easy access to the chapters. read more
The text covers all the pillars and provides additional links for further sources for the students. The content page is clear and provides easy access to the chapters.
Information on the pillars and other information literacy subjects is clear and the explanations are unbiased.
The model of the seven pillars of information literacy, I think that won’t become obsolete any time soon as it provides an effect way to provide information literacy to students. The links that are provided for further information and as further resources are able to be easy updated if needed. For example, in introduction links are provided for websites where search terms can be looked at for their definitions however the links are broken and need to be updated. Introduces primary vs. secondary sources in a simple way that can be understood without confusion. Introduces students to the structure of libraries through the scenarios like interlibrary loan, journal subscription, google scholar etc. It also does a good job of talking about the role of librarians and the work they do in the library. It also discusses call numbers and what they are. Includes the library of congress classification and citations briefly without too much information that can overwhelm students. These are topics that first year students will always need to know to help them access their library fully so they will continue to be relevant. The inclusion of visual literacy and science literacy are relevant for students to know as well as they will come across them in their studies if they are science majors or are into visual arts or even interested in visual information format.
The text has been written in a clear matter with simple language that students can understand. Terms introduced are explained if complex. The diagrams to describe the pillars are very helpful and straightforward. Formats of information diagram does a good way of articulating the differences between the formats.
The chapters on each pillars are structured in the same way. Some of the chapters also includes quick quizzes to text students on what they learned in the chapter. For example, a quick quiz on search strategies is a good inclusion for students to practice what they learned in the chapters before it. Quizzes on primary sources and citations at the end.
The chapters are easy to read. Subheadings on topics are introduced effectively without confusion. The chapters on the pillars could be hard to use out of order as they build on each other. The introduction of the visual and science literacies would not disrupt students.
The chapters are organized in clear chapters based on the pillars and other information literacies introduced briefly. However, in chapter one when the pillars are introduced, it would have been appropriate to introduce where they came from, how the pillars were developed in chapter one instead of the introduction. In the introduction a link is provided the pdf of the pillars core model, which is helpful to learn more about how this model was created and by whom. When topics are introduced the structure is information about topic, examples, and then quiz. For example, when the text discusses plagiarism, examples follow, and then a quiz to test student knowledge. Questions throughout the chapters are a very great way for students to start thinking critically and grow their critical thinking skills when they start to think about audience. Useful links for further information about citations and others are organized in a logical manner and text does not overdo it with the links.
The diagrams of the pillars are clear and are not distorted. The interface of the online reading version is easy to navigate and has the option of the font size to be increased for individuals that prefer to read text in a bigger font. The content section can be easy navigated and chapters accessed individually.
The grammar used is clear without errors.
The text provides a varied examples of scenarios that includes both genders but it is a general text intended for every student learning about information literacy. However, there were opportunities missed where examples of topics would have been used that deal with different social justice topics.
Some of the information that is included that is very helpful for students is that the text does a good job of introducing the library catalog, databases, and their search elements of an interface. It also provides examples of how to create search terms from topics. The text does a great job of introducing Truncation, which not a lot of texts do, or even mention it. Introduces and explains the CRAAP TEST. A valuable section I thought that was done well was that the text clearly explains the different ways to present information. The last two chapters on visual literary and science literacy also do a good job of introducing these literacies to get students thinking about these literacies and how they connect to their studies. Uses scenarios and case study of examples but doesn’t define case study for students. Has links to some search catalogs and engines.
The text is based on the SCONUL format; this provides a solid framework for students to Information Literacy and its related issues. read more
The text is based on the SCONUL format; this provides a solid framework for students to Information Literacy and its related issues.
No issues/major considerations.
The formatting of the book would make for relatively simple updating. Most of the examples are from the beginning, rather than the back-end of the decade; however, these provide appropriate "concrete examples" of the IL concepts within the chapters.
There are some sections that are written in a "breezier" (more conversational) tone than other sections; however, this does not detract from the work's substance. Overall, the text is clear, concise, appropriate. Technical terminology is part of the territory, or "information landscape" as the case may be; this would not be a consideration for most upper division/graduate students, but might require a "glossary ramp-up" for under division/ESL students.
Text hews to the SCONUL format; outline/progression is clear.
This is a strong area for the text, as sections (e.g. dealing with Academic Integrity/Evaluation) could be ported as stand-alone readings for Distance Education courses. In terms of OER remixing, the formatting of the text lends itself to being used with other IL materials that might be more discipline/subject specific.
Overall presentation is logical/clear/concise; the additions of Visual and Scientific Literacy are useful additions, albeit these could also be used as "stand-alones" for hybrid/DE courses.
Having the text in multiple formats is definitely an asset; although I prefer not to read on a mobile device, many of our students do so in lieu of a computer/monitor.
A few grammatical "considerations" although these might result from having a more conversational tone in some of the passages.
Overall, this text presents a solid effort to introduce students and faculty to structure and issues pertaining to Information Literacy. The "added sections" of visual and scientific literacy are useful and appropriate ones. A couple of minor recommendations: given the rise of cybercrime/data aggregation, it might be helpful to have a passage concerning information security and a note of about data harvesting/profiling/resultant marketing from individual(student) searches with certain browsers; in addition, more explanation concerning presentation of visualization of information might prove helpful for initiates.
The text offers a very comprehensive treatment of the subject, including coverage of developing research questions, thesis statements, and search terms. All digital versions include an effective hyper-linked table of contents. The text links to an... read more
The text offers a very comprehensive treatment of the subject, including coverage of developing research questions, thesis statements, and search terms. All digital versions include an effective hyper-linked table of contents. The text links to an ALA glossary of terms; however, the link was broken at the time of this review. There is solid coverage of advanced searching skills like Boolean searching, truncation, phrase searching, and subject headings. Ancillary materials including exercises, tables, quizzes, images, and graphics are very helpful and could be easily incorporated into someone’s course. The quiz answer keys provide detailed explanations in the epub and PDF versions but are less robust in the HTML version. The real life scenarios in many chapters are helpful in making the concepts accessible and relatable to students. The end of chapter bibliographies are also useful for further exploration. This text would benefit from further explanation of primary versus secondary sources. The focus on the Seven Pillars, rather than the ACRL Framework, could be considered a drawback for a higher education audience in the United States. Even with these limitations, this is a quality, comprehensive text on information literacy.
The content is generally accurate as of the time of publication and appears to be mostly error-free other than some broken web links.
There are many references to the authors’ institution, which may not translate well to other schools adopting this text. For example, there are quiz questions pertaining to SUNY and references made to the SUNY catalog. While this is something that could be revised, it would require some work to update the SUNY references in the text to make it either more generic or specific to another institution. The text also provides helpful citation information; however, references to the MLA 7th edition and would need to be updated to the 8th edition.
The text is written in a pleasant conversational tone that is clear and engaging. Technical terms or jargon are explained to readers.
There is some inconsistency in chapter layout. For example, chapters may start with an introduction, scenario, or even just jump into the concept without a heading of any kind. For ease of navigation, the text could benefit from more consistent formatting of chapters. The use of language and tone appears consistent throughout the text.
The first seven chapters do build upon each other and focus on the Seven Pillars model for information literacy. As an information literacy instructor who teaches a fully online three credit, 100-level class, keeping the chapters in this order makes the most sense. However, readings from the text could be divided into sections or chapters and placed at the point of need in classes that may not need the entire array. The final two chapters on visual and science literacy could work as their own units or modules. The exercises in each chapter reinforce concepts covered and an instructor could easily select the best ones for their needs or do some slight revisions to make them more relevant to their students.
The text flows logically through the research process from one concept to the next and the writing style makes it easy to follow along. The chapter exercises and quizzes enhance the text and provide opportunities for students to practice the concepts. The authors also provide helpful hyperlinks to cross reference information.
Overall, the interface is fine. I viewed the book on my computer and the activity components of this text work best in the HTML or epub formats. The online quiz tool is a useful interactive feature that allows students to check their knowledge. A printed version would be less desirable because students could not readily check their answers. The text could benefit from some additional visual interest – the authors actually acknowledge the lack of images in the visual literacy chapter due to the difficulties of obtaining permission. Images could potentially be added in future versions. The external links would need to be checked to ensure they link to the appropriate pages but this is always a problem for online resources. The HTML anchors placed in the text forward students to an upcoming place in the book but lack a return anchor for convenience.
I did not notice any glaring grammatical errors beyond a few typos.
No concerns regarding cultural relevance. The examples specific to SUNY or New York might not be easily understood by students of other institutions or in states where they don’t recognize SUNY.
Overall, a comprehensive text that could be used in any information literacy course. Instructors would want to double-check all web links to make sure they direct to the appropriate pages. This text could be useful for both undergraduate and graduate level information literacy course or incorporated into subject-specific courses. The text encourages self-reflection as the reader moves through the modules and makes the link to metacognition.
The authors do an excellent job covering different strategies using Google, research databases, and other resources to search for, evaluate, and use information critically and ethically in visual or written form. They also provide information... read more
The authors do an excellent job covering different strategies using Google, research databases, and other resources to search for, evaluate, and use information critically and ethically in visual or written form. They also provide information about how to use online library catalogs to locate books using the Library of Congress call numbers , and provide some advice as to when students should refer to books over journals. What they leave out, however, is using social media for research purposes, as well as how to evaluate information received from social media, which has become a source of information for most undergraduates as well as professionals in the field. (Ironically, the authors provide an exercise for students on how to compose research queries to find out how college students use Twitter for research, though.) While the authors note Wikipedia as a possible source of information for research papers, they do not go into detail on how to evaluate the quality of Wikipedia articles; most students-as well as professors--remain unaware of WikiProject quality scales and how to tell if information in Wikipedia articles is current, or even who makes the edits to those articles. The book also does not address data literacy, which is a major concern if one is going to talk about presenting data or science literacy. The science literacy and visual literacy chapters would have benefited from that addition of data literacy.
The authors make a broad assumption that people who post information to social media do not check for accuracy, and they attempt to steer students away from using it as opposed to giving them the tools to assess whether or not the information posted is factual. The authors also do not explain how social media content itself can be used as evidence of some phenomenon that students may want to write about (for example, citing Tweets from government figures as evidence of what they may believe, or what they are promising people). Wikipedia is also not explored as a research resource, as the authors make the same assumption that Wikipedia contributors do not use legitimate sources--which is incorrect.
The authors use SCONUL's Seven Pillars of Information Literacy as a main framework for the book. The first seven chapters are named and ordered in sequence of those seven pillars (Identify, Scope, Plan, Gather, Evaluate, Manage, and Present). Academic librarians have used the Seven Pillars of Information Literacy to guide their undergraduate library instruction since 1999. If an undergraduate student is still required to write a research paper or give a presentation based on some form of research, then the content of this book will remain relevant for some time to come.
I found the language used in the book easy to read, and believe that it would be accessible for an undergraduate. The authors provide a conversational, yet professional, tone that students will appreciate, which makes for light reading.
A different author worked on each chapter, but the language and tone used by the authors, as well as the structure of each of the first seven chapters, appears consistent.
The book is formatted as one large PDF or ePub file. While it is possible for a professor to assign individual chapters or sections of the book, if they wanted to make those chunks available through their course management system it will take some maneuvering with the right version of Adobe Acrobat Reader Pro. A professor could easily assign chunks of the text and not the entire book, but due to the nature of what is being taught, with the exception of the last two chapters on visual and science literacy, it would make no sense to rearrange the sequence of the chapters.
If the focus of this book is on process, the authors should have chosen one scenario that students can follow, in order to see one strong, positive model of an undergraduate student achieving each of the seven pillars in order to write a paper and give a presentation on a particular topic. Instead, each chapter focuses on a different student and a different research problem that they have to solve, which does not allow the reader to see the research process in action. This will be very confusing for undergraduate students. Also, if the authors want students to follow this process, the book should be reformatted as a workbook, where students will complete exercises that would complement the research assignment that their professor would assign to them. If the intention of the authors is to provide exercises that librarians can give to students during one-shot library instruction sessions, or use in online tutorials, however, this book achieves that goal.
I found the text easy to read and navigate. I appreciated the charts in each chapter that could help a student organize their work, as well as the exercises provided. The authors smartly hyperlink previous or upcoming sections of the book so that students can skip ahead or "flip back and forth" if they wish.
There were no grammatical or spelling errors in the text that I could detect. I found the editing to be of high quality, as there was consistency in language and style across the chapters.
While the text would not be interpreted as culturally insensitive or offensive, the authors do not do a thorough job explaining what bias is, how it manifests in different types of information resources, and how such bias harms people. Undergraduate students would benefit from seeing some real examples of biased publications, or a real example of a biased student paper, to fully grasp the concept, as a significant percentage of these students will assume that anything written in a traditionally published resource must be correct. On the flip side, a growing number of undergraduate students want to write research papers that identify racial, gender, class, heteronormative, cisgender, and/or other biases in history, literature, science, the arts, etc.--these students need to know where to look and how to unpack what they see. As we are currently in the era of "fake news", the skill of identifying bias in a news article or a research article has become more important now than ever. If the authors decide to update this edition they will need to make improvements in this area.
While the book has some faults, The Information Literacy User's Guide is actually the best information literacy textbook for students that I have seen to date. While I am not sure that I would use the entire textbook for my course LIB 280: Critical Thinking in Academic Research, I believe that the charts and exercises provided would be very helpful for my undergraduate students.
The text is quite comprehensive given the expansive concept of information literacy. Use of the pillars is a good framework by which to organize the chapters and discuss the various stages of research. The authors also move beyond basic concepts... read more
The text is quite comprehensive given the expansive concept of information literacy. Use of the pillars is a good framework by which to organize the chapters and discuss the various stages of research. The authors also move beyond basic concepts of library research to include metaliteracy components of visual literacy and science literacy as part of their coverage of information literacy.
The topics in the text are well researched and consistent with known literature in the field of information science. There are no known inaccuracies in the coverage of topics within the text. Material is consistently presented in an unbiased way.
The authors do a solid job of making a case for the importance of information literacy. While there is sufficient detail in describing information resources and materials, which may change more frequently; the text also discusses concepts such as plagiarism and copyright that will present information challenges for many years to come. This approach adds to the longevity and relevance of the text. An area that could precipitate the need for updates is if any of the hyperlinked technology resources or URLs become obsolete or unusable. However, the layout of the text appears such that updates could be made easily.
The authors do a good job integrating knowledge of library resources into the larger context of research and information literacy. Complex terms and library jargon are explained in detail throughout the text, which should provide clarity for novice researchers. The use of research scenarios help provide meaningful examples of how information concepts relate to real-world situations.
Chapters for the most part appear to follow a similar format. They include a definition of the key concept, demonstrable understandings and abilities for that concept, and a research scenario. Some chapters; however, included a bibliography and others did not.
The organization of the concepts and chapters in this book make it quite modular. Faculty should be able to easily find and use smaller sections of the book in their instruction. There is also be some built in redundancy of terms like scholarly publications throughout multiple sections of the text, thus making it easier to pull apart chapters into stand alone lessons. Exercises and quizzes can also serve as templates, which faculty could build upon to create discipline-specific examples in their courses.
The flow of the text was logical; following the research cycle from identifying a need, to finding and evaluating information, through to presenting one’s final research product. Chapters relating to concepts presented in other chapters were hyperlinked for cross-reference.
The interface for reading the book was quite usable allowing for online reading via a URL or downloading to a PDF for offline access. The book is easily read on a tablet device. There are some external links to slides and materials, which need use of the internet to be fully interactive. However, these materials are included as text in the downloadable PDF version.
Several typos exist. They are located on pages: 34, 48, and 72. These issues were not significant enough to interfere with the reader’s ability to comprehend the text.
The use of the research scenarios, and well as inclusion of real-world examples (like cases of plagiarism in publication) makes the text more culturally relevant for readers.
Librarians might also find this text useful, as it includes many helpful worksheets that could be included in library instruction programs.
The text does cover aspects of information literacy quite well. The inclusion of visual and science literacy is unusual for this type of textbook, but welcome. There was obviously much thought put into the structure and focus of the book, but... read more
The text does cover aspects of information literacy quite well. The inclusion of visual and science literacy is unusual for this type of textbook, but welcome. There was obviously much thought put into the structure and focus of the book, but apparently the authors thought no index or glossary was needed. I disagree with that decision. I noticed, too, that no mention was made at any point of doi (digital object identifiers). This omission can hardly be justified and shows an unfortunate sloppy attitude toward citations in general (more on that in the grammar section). On the plus side, I liked that the authors pointed out the use of people - experts - as resources. I also liked their mention of interlibrary loans as a source of material.
Only considering the content, I found the book accurate enough in the description of concepts and use of terms. On the other hand, the authors were sometimes guilty of bias and presenting uncritical assumptions as facts. One example is the passage on p. 63 (Evaluate) where the authors discuss the book "Our Virginia" and how a mother found "errors" in the text. They specifically call attention to the claim that there were thousands of black soldiers in the Confederacy. It's ironic that the authors are trying to educate the reader about evaluating source, but they failed to evaluate or present their facts properly. Yes, it may be true that "Our Virginia" was written by a non-historian, and it may be true that the author learned about black Confederate soldiers from a potentially biased source, but it does not follow that those facts automatically make the "errors" seen by Bernnard, et al. really errors. Did they read the book? Doing a little research of my own, I located a site hosted by a state (not an individual) that indicated there were perhaps 3,000 or more black Confederate troops. But Bernnard, et al. imply that it's impossible that there were black Confederate soldiers and "Our Virginia" contains a gross error. They deserve the grade of F for that section. Another example of bias was in the social media section of the book (p. 66) where the authors write, "Anyone can create or contribute to social media and nothing that's said is checked for accuracy before it's posted for the world to see." Nothing is checked? Really? Never? How do they know? If they were honest, they could have simply pointed out that we can't reliably know what social media posts are accurate and which aren't.
The book is up-to-date aside from the fact that no mention is made of doi. All the links that I tried worked, but there will have to be regular ongoing updates to keep the book relevant. Even if the links stop working the basic information presented will remain more or less relevant for some years.
I had no problems with understanding what the authors were trying to get across. I was sometimes irritated that the style would change. Some sections felt like they were writing for 5th grade elementary students, and then other sections felt more suitable for college age students. There was a fair amount of wasted prose. I also did not understand why the term "thesis" was never defined, but under a section about formats a whole paragraph was written about books. It's good to know how books are different than articles, but shouldn't a student get a little help with what makes a thesis different from a hypothesis?
I found the book consistent when it came to terminology and framework, but I cannot say the same for style. There were too many places where style would change and one part felt written for elementary students and other parts for college students. To be fair to the authors I should point out that I see this in other instructional books as well.
One very nice thing about "The Information Literacy User's Guide" is that its structure easily allows for readings of parts and even subsections. Headings and subheadings are easy to see and the layout is generally good.
I think the authors did a good job presenting the sections in order (according the "7 Pillars") and there was a logical sequence to the book.
I sometimes thought the concept maps were messy and sometimes even distracting or unnecessary, but overall I think the interface worked well.
I only noticed one minor grammatical error, but citations were another thing altogether. I won't go into all the problems I found with the citations, but I have to give a very low rating here. The citations in the text were nothing short of sloppy and mismanaged. Periods at the ends of citations that should have had them were often missing. There was an inconsistent use of styles - sometimes MLA and APA citations were used on the same page (see p. 61). Even the link that should have showed students how to structure citations had errors. On p. 119 one citation for a work by Zuern had the last digit of the date cut off. Whoever was responsible for proofreading any of the citations did a very poor job and the book should not have been published like this.
The authors made an effort to keep situations in the exercises modern and neutral.
One last point I'd like to make is about the "Advanced Searches" section on page 41. The authors point out that the minimalist search box for Google is not ideal and advanced searching is preferable. The implication is that single search boxes are bad, but that's exactly the trend now with Primo and Ebsco (Discovery) services. Of course, simple search boxes can be filled with terms to create a complex search, but the authors don't make that explicit. Yes, advanced searches are usually the best way to get information, but it's hard to see what the point is here. Is it that simple search boxes are bad? If that's true, then why are libraries trending in that direction and making advanced search tools more invisible? There could have been a discussion of that very timely topic.
Overall, this text is fairly comprehensive. I found the model of SCONUL Seven Pillars straightforward in its representation of the different phases of information seeking process, and I appreciated the emphasis the authors placed on the fact that... read more
Overall, this text is fairly comprehensive. I found the model of SCONUL Seven Pillars straightforward in its representation of the different phases of information seeking process, and I appreciated the emphasis the authors placed on the fact that research is not always linear and some steps in the process may often need to be reiterated or completed in a different order. The presentation of how students may experience and use information through the SCONUL model also fits well within the context of “metaliteracy” which the authors use throughout the text as they point to the importance of awareness and self-reflection for each of the steps. The two additional chapters on Visual Literacy and Science Literacy seem to stand on their own focusing on these two specific information literacy types and highlighting their current significance. As far as possible recommendations, Chapter 6, Manage, could perhaps benefit from more extensive information on the topics of citing and plagiarism. For example, the chapter could explain more the importance of citations for the reader, clarify the difference between paraphrasing and quotes (students often struggle in their most common attempts to paraphrase), discuss self-plagiarism, etc. Chapter 7, following the section on presentation format, could perhaps be enriched more with a discussion of information characteristics that support effective, powerful presentations such as visual material, statistical information, seminal content, etc. Finally, I was a little surprised to see that Chapter 9 on Science Literacy includes no mention of library database subscriptions as a main source for scientific information. This chapter touches upon great discovery tools such as Public Library of Science (PLoS), Science.gov, institutional digital depositories, even science zines; however, it seems important to also point to the value of library article databases as discovery portals for scientific information.
The information in the text is bias-free and accurate. A small recommendation may be that Chapter 6 mentions tools such as Turnitin not just as a plagiarism detection mechanism, but perhaps more importantly, as great tools helping students identify, understand and correct possible plagiarism in their own writing.
The information world is constantly evolving, and I expect the need for the content of this text to be updated on a relatively frequent basis making sure that not only links remain accurate but also the content reflects emerging trends in the way we consume, create and disseminate information. Still, the main framework of this publication, the Seven Pillars of information literacy, as well as the general approach of metaliteracy will continue to be relevant for the years to come as valuable principles around which students may develop their information skills.
This text was put together with student needs in mind. The audience addressed could easily span from undergraduates to graduates, even early career library professionals, with adequate language to weave expertise and linguistic differences. I found the storytelling method the authors use throughout the text very helpful providing a familiar, non-threatening context to support student understanding. There is some use of specialized language and terminology, but any necessary jargon is presented contextually in a way that does not inhibit the easy flow of reading even for those less familiar with the concept of information literacy. Still, it might be helpful to have a glossary of terms included at the end of the text.
The text is consistent in the application and discussion of the SCONUL Seven Pillars model. The opening of each of the first seven chapters includes a listing of student understandings and abilities associated with each of the information literacy pillars followed by a graphic representation. One recommendation I may have is that the language as well as sequence of the proficiency listings and their corresponding graphic representation align more closely. This may help with consistency and cohesion on what exactly is communicated. In addition, one of the last chapters, Visual literacy, makes a deliberate effort to link back to the seven pillars model of the text; however, this is not true for the chapter on Science literacy, which could perhaps have followed a somewhat similar format to keep the thematic cohesion and consistency.
The text is easily divided in chapters based on the Seven Pillars literacy model. Each of these sections would be easy to adopt as part of the learning progression in a course. The chapters build upon each other and interlink, but they could also be used individually as stand-alone units (the latter is particularly true for chapters 8 & 9 on the Visual and Science Literacies).
The organizational structure of the text is clear. The use of scenarios and the authors’ narrative style help the reading flow, the audience’s engagement and the unfolding of the different concepts. The use of examples and the embedding of exercises within each chapter help the learning progression and allow for student self-reflection.
I was able to download the book both in PDF and ebook format on my iphone and iPad first-generation. I even printed it out knowing that students often wish to use paper copies of their textbooks. All formats seem to be available with no major problems (my only problem was retrieving the book using with my ipad 2, probably due to my settings). Navigation within the ebook environment was easy and the links to quizzes and exercise answer keys worked smoothly.
I did not detect any major grammar errors. There were a few places where commas are overused and single and plural pronouns are mixed. One example of a grammatical correction needed in the introduction is at the beginning of the third paragraph, "While this textbook refers..., there is a variety..."
I did not detect any cultural or gender bias in the text. It is true that some of the examples and references relate to SUNY resources, but if instructors consider adoption, they could easily modify those references. Also, the discussions reflect western, mainly American, experiences in the information world, but I am not sure how a text such as this may cover the complexities of a more international scope shaped by different beliefs and values, political realities and access issues.
Below are a few other thoughts and suggestions for possible consideration: - in chapter 2, Scope, it may help to provide a more extensive explanation of how keyword searching works, including its challenges as well as advantages. This might be particularly important since students (actually most of us!) look for information sources mainly by keywords rather than controlled vocabulary/subject headings. In fact, I would recommend that discussions specifically on the use of thesaurus are minimized and rather point to the utility of subject headings as tools for generating additional terms for expanded keyword searching. - I particularly appreciated chapter 4 and the opportunities it provides for self-reflection throughout the research process. My only comment has to do with the use of Boolean OR in Google Scholar on page 38. Unless this has recently changed, I understand that the operator OR needs to be in capital letters for it to work effectively in Google. The authors might want to check on this in case they need to make corrections in the chapter’s examples. - In chapter 5, I found that there is a lot of content overlap between the sections “Choosing materials” and “Evaluating resources in practice” to keep them separate. Since the criteria students need to use in both the selection and final evaluation of sources are similar, it may help to consolidate to avoid unnecessary repetition.
This text uses the contemporary British framework of the Seven Pillars of Information Literacy: Identify, Scope, Plan, Gather, Evaluate, Manage, Present. This forms not only the content of the first seven chapters of the book, but also provides... read more
This text uses the contemporary British framework of the Seven Pillars of Information Literacy: Identify, Scope, Plan, Gather, Evaluate, Manage, Present. This forms not only the content of the first seven chapters of the book, but also provides a visual representation of the skills and knowledge required to be information literate. The text conveys a very useful and contemporary emphasis on the behavioral aspects of information literacy, stressing the need for a student to develop habits and dispositions that will move him or her through effective information use. Additionally, the social context of information use is also present. Beyond the traditional academic paper submitted to an instructor as the output of a research project, the authors offer suggestions for alternatives from speeches to video to social media. Both the purpose of the research and the potential audience must be considered. Adding additional detail on the use of Creative Commons licensing, mentioned briefly elsewhere in the text but not in the context of the research product, would be beneficial. In addition to the Seven Pillars, the text also uses standard information literacy models and tools such as the CRAAP test which will allow instructors to easily use other supplemental materials that use the same models.
The content of the text appears accurate and consistent. However, it would be best if instructors could edit or modify external content linked to the text such as quizzes which are sometimes problematic. For example, in one quiz question on resources, students are asked to choose the best resource to use to locate the full text of Franklin Roosevelt’s speech in which he said “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The possible answers include a website of presidential speeches, a newspaper article from October 1941, and the print version of Vital Speeches of the Day which began publication in 1934. The correct response is listed as “all of the above.” However, since the speech was given in 1933, the 2nd two responses seem unlikely to be true. Clearer questions with answers that do not “trick” students would be preferable.
Over time, as research tools and information sources change, the steps required to effectively use information remain relatively constant. These steps are clearly defined in each of the book’s first seven chapters. The authors of the text view information through a very contemporary lens, noting that online information is increasingly social and participatory. This adds relevance to the text since today’s information user must not only be able to find, assess and use information but is increasingly responsible for information creation and collaboration with others who have interests in the same topic. Although chapters are devoted to Science and Visual literacy at the end of the text, aspects of metaliteracy (self-reflective and intellectually engaged information use) are embedded throughout. The addition of information on the concept of transliteracy – how today’s information seekers must be able to access and use information in and between a variety of forms and formats – would also be useful. Transliteracy is briefly mentioned in the Visual Literacy chapter, but could be used as the chapter topic, expanding coverage to include media literacy of all types (film audio, digital, etc.).
The authors use clear language throughout. The use of visuals and scenarios (some with humor) will prove not only informative but engaging to undergraduate students.
The Seven Pillars framework provides consistency and clarity. In each chapter, a chart separated the chapter’s concepts (Identify, Gather, Evaluate, etc.) into two categories, detailing what students should know about the topic at the conclusion of the chapter, and also what they should be able to do to apply this knowledge to the research process, categories aligned to standards-based instruction in k-12 and beyond. Today’s undergraduates are very familiar with this model from their pre-college educational experience. Indeed, many elements of the text align with instructional language and tools used in k-12 education. The KWHL chart (what to you KNOW about a topic, what do you WANT to know, HOW will you find information, and what have you LEARNED) is regularly used in information literacy instruction in secondary and even elementary school libraries. Although clearly structured around a step-by-step process to information use, the exercises included throughout the text are appropriate to engage students in critical thinking as opposed to rote learning of a process. Most encourage students to apply the principles of each step to a topic of personal or immediate interest, yet provide relatable examples to guide that reflection.
The research process in the 21st century is examined through the established steps/pillars, each of which is covered in the first 7 chapters of the text. However, hyperlinks in the digital versions of the text allow for easy review of concepts and movement between the steps as necessary to the individual learner.
The text is very strong here, with introductory material, organized chapters, in-context examples of visual and scientific literacy, and a summary of content.
In both the PDF and ePub versions which were examined, full functionality were present. Search features were successful, text size could be adjusted, and bookmarking was available. Use of hyperlinks in the ebook takes students quickly and easily from one part of the textbook to another, allowing for individualized learning and review. There are also external links to useful resources in context. The discussion of citation styles, for example, provides a link to an online slide show which instructs students in the elements of citations in several styles and for several types of sources. As an added benefit, these illustrations are also available in an appendix for off-line access.
No grammatical errors were noted.
The text does include some examples of inclusiveness. In a few subject examples, we see research questions and sources on topics related to gender, race, and culture. Sample searches and references include links to content that helps to answer the questions posed in these examples. (Glass Ceiling, women artists). Additionally, one example in the Evaluate chapter warns against the use of unreliable information; the example given is of information found on Black Confederate soldiers, but the source citations for that information proved biased and incorrect. This was an appropriate example of the need to carefully evaluate and assess online and other sources. Although these examples exist within the text, there’s room for greater inclusion of culturally diverse content within this text.
This book is a very thorough and comprehensive instructional text that connects students with not only the basics of information literacy but with practical application. Further, each step of the information literacy process is coupled with a... read more
This book is a very thorough and comprehensive instructional text that connects students with not only the basics of information literacy but with practical application. Further, each step of the information literacy process is coupled with a delving into the concepts which leaves students inspired to explore and question further.
This text reflects no bias and demonstrates care and intent placed into the accurate reflection of information literacy standards and applications.
The text integrates current formats for information access into the examples and research modes. Using appropriate methodology and incorporating common searching strategies, the authors have created a text that will remain relevant as information formats and methods of access change.
Though the text is clearly written, it utilizes all the technical terminology of the discipline. For many students, there are sections of the text that will be challenging to follow and require a higher level of thought. However, the terms are placed appropriately within understandable examples and explanations.
Though the terms and structure of this topic may be great to the student new to these concepts, they are well presented and consistently so. By the end of this book, students will be left with a solid knowledge of information literacy and the accompanying terminology of the discipline.
The text could easily be modified or used in parts in information literacy courses. It can also be integrated into English composition courses or upper level researched based courses.
The headings, subheadings, images, charts, etc. were appropriately and logically placed making each section read and flow well. This text reads well and cleanly.
The book format is created well and without error.
No grammatical errors.
The examples in the text are all easy to read and cleanly placed. Though not culturally diverse, they are openly identifiable to the average student.
Overall, this is an incredibly thorough and well crafted text that comprehensively integrates current information literacy standards and concepts with practical application for any student at any level.
The textbook is a very comprehensive approach to learning about information literacy at the college level, suitable for a 1 credit class or as supplemental material for any other course that includes a research component. While the content of the... read more
The textbook is a very comprehensive approach to learning about information literacy at the college level, suitable for a 1 credit class or as supplemental material for any other course that includes a research component. While the content of the book is based on the SCONUL 7 Pillars of Information Literacy, it's coverage of information literacy also aligns well with the ACRL information literacy standards and framework. The extra two chapters of visual literacy and science literacy are very important topics that fit under the information literacy umbrella and are great additions to the subject. Worksheets and exercises are included that are appropriate to assign as graded homework or use for in class activities, along with quizzes that can be taken online (although I did not find the quizzes to be very good).
I have noticed a few errors in the writing, but nothing that negatively detracts from the book. My main concern is with the quizzes included with the book. I have found that I often disagree with what the authors have determined to be the correct answer. Before assigning the quizzes, I definitely recommend taking a close look at the questions and answers. Since the book was written for SUNY, it does have references to their specific library resources (such as the SUNY catalog) which may be confusing to readers from other universities/colleges.
Even though the book was only published a year ago, I have found URLs provided to already be out of date. Search tools and databases (especially those that are freely available) change frequently. The topics and examples given are very timely, but could begin to seem dated in a few years. Updates will be necessary for this textbook to remain relevant and for the exercises and examples to be useful to students.
The book is written in a very conversational manner and tries to engage students by framing the content through scenarios they may find familiar. There is some library/research jargon used, but definitely tries to minimize this and assumes that the reader has limited knowledge and experience with traditional library research tools.
The book is very consistent from chapter to chapter, as each chapter follows a very similar pattern.
Since research is rarely a linear process, a student could easily find themselves going back and forth between chapters in the book and reading or referencing them out of order. Concepts can still be understood if reading of the chapters and completion of the exercises occurs out of order. Each chapter is organized into many different sections by subheadings which allows for assigning even smaller chunks of a chapter for reading.
The book is organized in typical research stages--starting with identifying a topic, defining information need, developing a search strategy, how to find information, then being able to assess and use the information effectively. Even though the book is based on the SCONUL model, the same stages are represented in many other information literacy/research frameworks. It definitely makes sense to approach the topics in this specific order--but as mentioned above, since research rarely is linear, it is expected that some students using this book will be jumping back and forth between chapters.
The PDF file of the book is easy to navigate between chapters. It would be nice if the worksheets provided in the book were available as fillable PDF forms.
Some typos were noticed.
Overall I didn't find anything to be insensitive or offensive about this book, although I do think scenarios and examples could be more inclusive to a wider variety of information resources and needs. The book mostly focuses on academic, scholarly research. The book also does not provide any guidance or assistance for students who may encounter additional difficulties in research because they are international and/or non-native English speakers.
This text comprehensively covers basic information literacy concepts. It is interesting that the authors chose the SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy as the book's framework, since a number of additional information literacy models... read more
This text comprehensively covers basic information literacy concepts. It is interesting that the authors chose the SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy as the book's framework, since a number of additional information literacy models exist. In the United States, the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) recently revised the ACRL Information Literacy Standards, and developed the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. These different models simply offer a different lens through which to view information literacy and its goals, but I was a bit surprised that none of these were mentioned. Since the book seems directed toward undergraduate learners, it does make sense that the information was presented as simply as possible, so I can understand the decision to not include a discussion of other models. However, the new Framework does include a big focus on metaliteracy, so it may make sense to include that in a future edition of the book. Besides the last two chapters on Visual Literacy and Science Literacy, the information represented in the book is fairly discipline-agnostic, so instructors may want to make sure any discipline-specific ideas are addressed in class or through discussions or reflections. For example, when primary sources are discussed, an instructor may want to talk about how the term "primary source" may mean something different in different disciplines. This idea does come up in Chapter 9: Science Literacy, but it's an important one for learners to understand. Finally, the exercises, teaching tools, and graphs at the end of the book really make this a very helpful book for new information literacy instructors. The authors clearly lay out effective methods for teaching these ideas, and offer very practical and valuable tools for bringing this book into the classroom.
Information literacy ideas, tools, and strategies are represented in an accurate and objective manner. The only issues I identified along these lines are a few misspellings that I discuss more in the grammar section (#9) of this review. The authors of this book are to be lauded for their accurate and engaging discussion of a complex topic.
Books on information can be very difficult to keep up to date. I applaud the inclusion of social media and other types of new media in this text; however, the landscape of social media is changing so quickly that the specific examples given will be out of date sooner rather than later. Databases can change names or publishers, which could also cause confusion if not updated in the book. Finally, discover services are hardly mentioned at all (3 times throughout the book), and most libraries are moving in this direction. This is a good example of the extremely dynamic landscape of information in libraries, and in social media, right now. Of course, instructors could easily take these chapters and update them with relevant examples--again, one of the real benefits of using an open textbook.
Information literacy concepts are notoriously complex, and this book does an admirable job breaking down some very complicated ideas. The scenarios make the concepts at play very clear, and offer learners a way to relate to the ideas discussed throughout the book. If anything, the book may over-simplify ideas in order to make them accessible. For example, in Chapter 2: Scope, the concept of controlled vocabulary is identified as an important consideration in searching databases and library catalogs. Controlled vocabulary is a strangely difficult concept to grasp for learners who have never thought about information organization; however, I do believe that Chapter 2 is a great starting point for learners beginning to wrap their minds around this concept. Ideally, the concept would be addressed in class or in discussion at a later point, and learners could really begin to engage with the idea.
Overall, this text is fairly consistent. However, there are a few places in the book where different terminology is used for the same thing. For example, in Chapter 6: Manage, the learning objectives stated at the beginning of the chapter use the phrase "bibliographical software" to refer to software that helps researchers organize and manage their research. The rest of the chapter, though, uses the phrase "reference management software" to refer to the same thing.
As an information literacy instructor, I could definitely imagine using this book in bits and pieces. Each chapter does not rely on knowledge of the previous chapter(s), even though that would certainly help. Important ideas, such as information formats and search strategies, are covered multiple times. While learners reading through the entire book may need some guidance in order to ensure that they don't skip over some of these parts because they think they have already read about them, this does offer instructors the opportunity to review important ideas and make sure that learners really grasp them at different points in their research, or on their way up (or down!) the Pillar(s).
The authors made good use of the flow inherent in the SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy. Organization/flow is typically difficult in books on information literacy and research, since the research process isn't linear, so I really appreciated that the authors touched on this idea at the beginning of the book. In fact, the authors' ability to highlight the iterative nature of research was clear, as many of the chapters covered the same ideas, but with a slightly different perspective. Chapters 8 and 9, Visual Literacy and Science Literacy, seemed to fit well at the end of the book, since the learner should already be familiar with the Pillars at that point.
This book is available as a .pdf and as an eBook. I downloaded both versions, and used both for different reasons. I preferred to navigate through the book with the eBook version (using a Macbook Air), but appreciated being able to pull up the .pdf in order to search for specific items within the text. In the eBook version, a few of the graphs were a bit distorted, as they were spread over multiple pages, but the distortion did not present any major issues with my ability to read and understand the goal of the graphs. The online, interactive quizzes were a great feature, but could potentially cause confusion if a student had printed out pages from the .pdf version of the book, or was not connected to the internet. The authors dealt with this situation by offering text versions of the quizzes directly below the link to the online quizzes.
There are no major problems with grammar in this book. However, there are a few significant misspellings that could potentially impact a learner's experience. For example, in Chapter 6: Manage, the authors describe various reference management software, including Mendeley. The chapter consistently spells it wrong (Mendelay) and even includes this misspelling in the URL given. The incorrect URL (www.mendelay.com) should be: https://www.mendeley.com/.
The scenarios that are part of each chapter are great, and it's clear that learners will benefit from reflecting on an example that may clarify a situation or concept. However, a number of the examples in the book are specific to New York or SUNY, which may cause some confusion. For example, in Chapter 2: Scope, the main character uses the SUNY catalog to search for information. This totally makes sense, given that a number of the authors are from a SUNY institution. If I were going to use this in a class, I would likely go in and edit a few of the scenarios in order for them to make sense for my students. Indeed, this is one of the major benefits of an open textbook--that instructors are able to do this!
I've taught both undergraduate and graduate information literacy courses, and I can see using pieces of this book in both classes. The text is clear, but I think that it is most useful when supplemented with guided practice and discussion. I think this textbook may also be of interest to new information literacy instructors. The book offers clear strategies for teaching complex information literacy concepts, and I would recommend it as a starting point for new teaching or instruction librarians in order to get a sense of how these concepts can be discussed and shared. Thanks to the authors for making their expertise accessible and open!
I find it pretty comprehensive. (In fact, much more than I was expecting). As I delved into the book I could see being able to use it with a variety of audiences. I am an educational technology professor working with both graduate and... read more
I find it pretty comprehensive. (In fact, much more than I was expecting). As I delved into the book I could see being able to use it with a variety of audiences. I am an educational technology professor working with both graduate and undergraduate students. I think it has use for both. I appreciate that it talks about both MLA and APA..(students get thrown by not seeing the citation style the need). Of course the citation section is not comprehensive, but it’s a worthwhile introduction to documenting the who what where when of sources. I was a little surprised by the lack of discussion about evaluating online resources. There some in the evaluate chapter but it is really short. This may be due to the fact that I am not in the library sciences but given the title I had expected a more comprehensive discussion of citing and evaluating and using online sources because in education much of information literacy is focused on evaluating online sources. This would definitely be something that I would need to supplement when using this book. There are places where the book opens the door, and I could easily supplement. I appreciate the visual literacy chapter and the science literacy chapter but they are the least comprehensive resource in the book. For example, the other chapters talk about giving credit to the sources and talks about Open Source and citation (specifically Chapter 4 Gather).. In the visual literacy chapter, one of the biggest issues I have with students is the fact that they don’t think they need to cite them or do not cite them accurately given their ability online. If the book is going to go into images as sources, this discussion is necessary and a missed opportunity. In fact, there is a section on saving images (page 115 starting with “For visual materials, another important aspect of access involves saving copies.” And there is no discussion of citation here, a clear missed opportunity. If I was rating the book on just the 7 pillars – I would rate it a 4 in comprehensiveness, but I will rate a 3 taking the last two chapter into consideration.
I am an Educational Technology professor so library science is not my area of expertise but I often have to teach finding sources and judging their accuracy and usefulness under the veil of Digital Literacy, Digitial Citizenship etc.. I don’t see anything inaccurate in the way that I would use it. I do think the authors do have a a bit of a bias toward traditional sources and do not spend a lot of time with non-traditional sources.
I think this book has fine longevity. They did an excellent job of picking resources and examples that are both timely and will not easily age out of relevance. It is clear that the authors were careful to use general examples and perhaps some of their lack of online discussion was an effort to make a book that was general enough that it would retain relevancy over a longer time. They of course will have issues once a new version of APA/MLA comes out but that is a risk of anyone who includes that material.
I think the book is quite clear. I find it very readable and the authors do a good job of pulling examples through the book that are engaging and useful to students who are learning the topic.
For the first 7 pillars I would say the book is very consistent. The last two chapters are very cursory and not in as much depth as the others. I could see using any of the chapters or a few of them together and I think the time that it would take to cover the material would be similar for course planning purposes.
This book has a clear framework that I could easily see only using parts of it. The 7 Pillars could easily be used as a group of individually or could be used for remediation. As I read this book, I thought, this would be a good book to use to either prepare for a library search or to remediate one that went wrong where it was clear that the student did not follow how to value sources. The last two chapters seems superfluous. Not that I might not use them, but the 7 pillars make a clear framework, and the two extra chapters on Science Literacy and Visual Literacy make me say – but what about Global literacy, Cultural Literacy etc.. ? The table of contents is well organized and so I could easily direct my students to a particular section or task and their appendix has activities that I could easily assign only one part of this book and likely intend to do so.
I think the framework is easy to follow. I wish that the activities were linked at the end of each chapter. As I read each chapter, then I went to the end to see the associated activities. Since on the computer it’s a linked PDF, it would be a nice addition to link to the appendices at the end of each chapter as print book often does.
This book is available in two formats PDF an EPub. I explored both. For PDF, it’s a straightforward PDF document, with no bells or whistles. On a computer it has clickable links to go to activities within the text and referenced materials. Since I direct a one to one iPad project,I loaded it on my iPad in a few ways. I first started with the PDF and opened it both as an iBook and opened it in Notability (the annotation tool that we give to all students at the start of the program.) It loaded well in both these ways. I also then downloaded the EPub version and opened that in iBooks. I don’t recommend this as strongly. Its nice to be able to jump from the table of contents and has more of a book feel, but some of the clean formatting is lost in ePub version.The greatest issue is that the appendices with activities are not indexed as part of the Table of Contents in the Epub version and its difficult to get to them. Then when you do get to them, the formatting of them is awkward. The notetaking tools of the ePub are fully available on that version, and if you had a student that you needed to accommodate via a textreader the ePub would fulfill this need. So overall, I would highly recommend the PDF version for its versatility. I am going to rate it high for choices and options that I could present to students to use this book.
I have not noticed any errors. It reads well and seems carefully written.
I don’t think its culturally insensitive in any way, I like the way the book is written, I do think that there are some cultural references and examples that may be challenging to International students. I think that this the price to pay for book that I find easy to read and engaging. For example their comparing of objectives to punchy email attention getters (don’t love this example) but I could see this getting confusing for some. I went through looking for other examples and generally its pretty culturally neutral but examples are very US student.
I am much more impressed with this book than I thought I would be.. If they make additional versions, may I suggest an added activity. The authors did a good job of keeping resources general when referring to library resources that may be available. I will likely pair that chapter with creating an inventory of what our library has. This would be a great activity to encourage people to personalize the text to their institution and would give a great framework to encourage those who adopt the text to partner with their librarian. I am not asked this anywhere else so I will share it here. What audience would this be appropriate for? I can see applying it to several groups of students that I teach. I could see using it with my undergraduate students, especially when I assign a paper and want them to find sources. Additionally, the next time that I am asked to do an honors research project with a student, I could see using this text to verify our shared understanding of finding resources and what types of resources are acceptable or not. For graduate students, I could see using this for my classroom research class for the same purpose. I also teach our seminar for first semester doctoral students. We meet with the librarian and this would be a great preparatory read for that visit. This book is not for looking at electronic sources as a source, it is definitely designed to address the needs of someone assigning a traditional paper using traditional library sources and does a good job of introducing relevant topics and opening the door for other appropriate discussion..
Using the 7 Pillars of Information Literacy as an organizing structure, and with the addition of two chapters discussing specific kinds of information literacy (visual and scientific), the text provides a broad overview of information literacy... read more
<p> Using the 7 Pillars of Information Literacy as an organizing structure, and with the addition of two chapters discussing specific kinds of information literacy (visual and scientific), the text provides a broad overview of information literacy with an emphasis on metaliteracy, which the authors describe as "information literacy for today's open, networked, collaborative information environment" (1). The text covers traditional sorts of information gathering, such as library stacks and databases, as well as newer approaches like using social media and backtracking through popular sources to locate primary research. While the general philosophy undergirding the work is one that will be familiar to many faculty members (for example, those teaching a prospectus-based opening to working with information often use guiding questions: What is your tentative position? What do you know? What do you not know? Where will you look? What problems do you anticipate?), the authors provide a contemporary approach with a practical and overt stress on metacognition. They also offer a useful focus on collaboration that is often missing from this kind of text. The authors provide in-text definitions of most but not all concepts; they provide neither glossary nor index, although both would be valued additions to the book. The depth of coverage, I believe, would likely work best in lower-division college courses, or in upper-division courses with additional deeper analytic tools from the professor, aimed at specific course content.</p>
<p> I found the content to be high quality. The exercises are directly connected to the material and have been carefully designed to help students apply what they've just learned. The book's information and strategies are up-to-date and accurate. I would, however, quibble with the Chapter 7 definition of the "traditional paper"; I don't know many faculty who are assigning work fitting such a limited description. We're looking for analysis, synthesis, evaluation, creation of something new - and we recognize that the writing process itself adds to learning about the topic. We're not just wanting students to show they've "understood the topic and can draw some conclusions" (94), even within the "traditional" kind of format. Deepening of a few concepts at some point would be very helpful. Chapter 5, for example, discusses fact checking but doesn't describe differing levels of fact-checking, which is likely different at _The New Yorker_, perhaps, than it is at _People_. The "Choosing Materials" section in this chapter offers key characteristics to seek but doesn't give much about HOW to check accuracy, relevance, bias, reputation, credibility. On the other hand, the text does use worksheets, exercises, and other resources (the CRAAP test from Chico State, for example, is great) to help clarify difficult concepts. In the big picture, this text attempts to help students uncover what they don't know by offering relevant information and skills for this kind of intellectual work, and this "what we don't know" focus is supported by an accurate text.</p>
<p> This text makes good use of contemporary issues (such as hydraulic fracturing) in its examples and also does a nice job of tracing an idea (iodine use after radioactive exposure) by starting with an event that may not be familiar to students (the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986) and making connections to an event that probably is familiar to them (the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011). The text integrates examples in such a way that updating should be a smooth process. If the authors should choose to integrate more visual elements into the text (a strategy that I recommend, by the way), these should also be easy to update.</p>
<p> With the exceptions that I've noted under the "grammar" category, below, the text is clearly written and easy to follow. Jargon is minimal and the text explains newly introduced concepts. If anything is missing that would directly influence clarity, I would say that it is a discussion, including suggestions, to help students surface the idea that "what we don't know" is a very Big Space and may include ideas, facts, and possibilities that aren't yet in the student's current awareness. That is, if Sarah doesn't have a certain bit of information, and that bit of information isn't even on her radar, how will she begin to look for the thing that she doesn't know exists? Many students lack the experience, context, and background knowledge that faculty can draw on--and may take for granted--to help in the search. This idea of "what we don't know" is especially important when students are working on projects that they didn't choose themselves and might not be inherently curious about, as sometimes occurs in college (gasp).</p>
<p> My comments on organization, below, will be helpful here in terms of noting some repetition and overlap. One overall comment would be that the book might benefit from the application of a similar structure to each chapter: some chapters begin with a scenario, while others begin with an introduction or other opening strategy. This suggestion also applies to the structure and order of the opening bullets (what to understand, what to do). Harmonizing the chapters for style, content, and consistency of categories and divisions would be helpful.</p>
<p> Because it uses the 7 Pillars of Information Literacy, and because the text itself notes that these pillars don't necessarily delineate a step-by-step process, instructors can certainly divide the book if necessary. None of the chapters is excessively long, but even so, it would be simple to assign parts of chapters. That said, the information-seeking and -analyzing process does have some inherent order (that is, the chapter on gathering information comes before the chapter on sharing information), and the 7 Pillars approach will work best in their original order. The final chapters on visual and science literacy, however, could be easily shifted and integrated anywhere to best fit a given course. As someone who teaches technical writing for engineers, for example, I would open with the chapters on science and visual literacy.</p>
<p> The flow is not seamless, although the text does refer the reader to relevant discussions elsewhere in-text, which indicates that some connecting work has taken place. More "conversation" among the topics would be very helpful. For example, Chapter 5 distinguishes between news media and social media, but Chapter 2 does not mention the latter, an important distinction that should take place early and work thematically throughout the book. Chapter 2 discusses Boolean Operators, and then Chapter 3 repeats that discussion (although with less effectiveness); Chapter 3, however, adds some advanced search tips not available in Chapter 2. Combining all of this information in one place, with many visuals, would be much more effective. In addition, Chapter 7 ("Present") would benefit from a discussion of what happens to information that people gather and share; that is, what goes on when the work goes "out there" into the world and joins the conversation (I am thinking of the Burkean Parlor here, of course). A discussion along these lines would give a sense of completeness and working-together of the entire structure.</p>
<p> I've read several books in the Open Textbook Library, and this one has a very good reader interface. A few of the visuals (screenshots, for example) in the book are fuzzy, but the rest are clear and sufficiently sized for usability. I do recommend a re-working of the links: The Table of Contents links out into the text, but the text does not link back to the Table of Contents. Similarly, the authors occasionally provide in-text links to upcoming chapters that they've referred to; these are helpful, but links BACK to the starting point would eliminate the long scroll backward. Also, having notes/links to the exercise answers would be helpful (I did not realize until I got to the end of the book that answers for students were even available). And finally, in-text links to the full-size versions of the worksheets would be most welcome. Nevertheless, the book is generally easy to navigate, and I did not have any difficulty reading it online.</p>
<p> The book suffers from inconsistency of style (likely because of the working of multiple authors) and minor but annoying grammar problems. Issues of pronoun disagreement within sentences (mixing single and plural pronouns, mixing first- , second- , and third-person pronouns) and lack of pronoun clarity (for example, use of "this", "that", "there", and "it" without specifying what nouns these words point to) are very distracting. As a technical writer, I would need to explain to my students why these are not OK. The mix of active and passive voice is also distracting. Finally, although perhaps nobody other than technical writers will find it bothersome, I was unsettled by the occasional lack of parallel grammatical structure among bulleted items and (especially) within the 7 Pillars (perhaps "scope" is actually being used as a verb in the second pillar, but the explanation doesn't lend itself to that interpretation). That said, I noted no glaring issues of sentence structure that would cause me not to adopt this text.</p>
<p> The text uses a variety of examples (computers, fracking, women painters, and radiation poisoning, for example), although the examples lean toward East College college students. The names in the examples range from "cutesy" ("Norm Allknow" and "Harry Dositall" to pseudonymous ("Harry and Sally Dennis"), so I suggest a consistent naming strategy throughout the book, and one that uses a variety of names. The text is not offensive in any way, but it is not particularly inclusive--however, the examples in the text would be easy to update for diversity.</p>
<p> I'm adopting this text for my technical writing students and would recommend it for nearly any lower-division course that involves research, application of critical thinking principles, analysis/synthesis/evaluation of information, or metacognitive activities (in particular, helping students to understand the thinking process and encouraging them to think about their thinking). I would not recommend assigning this book as "recommended reading" to help students with course content and projects; rather, if you don't want to use the entire text, I'd recommend choosing specific chapters such as those on visual and science literacy, and then working the exercises together so that you, the context expert, can model your own information literacy processes and abilities.</p>
The book is extremely comprehensive, describing the different elements of an internet search and providing a series of exercises designed to give practice in efficiently finding, storing, and assessing information. It covers a range of searches,... read more
The book is extremely comprehensive, describing the different elements of an internet search and providing a series of exercises designed to give practice in efficiently finding, storing, and assessing information. It covers a range of searches, from using google and wikipedia, to much more in-depth academic searches.
I have not done the exercises, but I see the utility of them in a classroom, and have no reason to believe that the serches they describe are not accurate. A series of exercises details how to find different kinds of information, for example, including how to access academic information through inter-library loan. The book attempts to be useful for citizen science (there is a section on how to do this), as well as for beginner and advanced researchers. It will be useful to undergraduates, and the to new gradute students grappling with getting a handle on a new research topic.
The book is arranged so that new information could be incorporated. The text makes the point that research skills are for life, not just the next class. I liked the discussion on metaliteracy, a term I was not familiar with; I use the term media fluency. I especially liked the introduction exercises, on identifying your information need and scoping.
If anything, the book is too detailed; I admire the intend to be as clear and transparent as possible in how to do a complex search and I certainly agree with the intent to make searches as efficient as possible. That said, I will put in a pitch for just wandering around in databases, as you can do in a library shelf, and depending on chance to encounter relevant material. The prose is clear and precise, the instructions are detailed, there is a ability to create a glossary, and to use components of the text in class, depending on the level of skill you require your students to attain. The book is very well thought-out.
All the chapters follow the same format, in escalating complexity, and each includes a series of exercises designed to allow the student to follow each of the steps.
Pieces of the text can be used in a class, depending on the level of research required. I teach undergraduate public history, so I am always urging my students to create good questions. I very much like their exercise of examining the level of research the task requires, and the written assignment of what do I know, what do I need to know. There is a menu of learning activities, so you can pick what would be most useful to your class.
The organization is consistent, each chapter starts with the personalization of a research question, and not all are for academic purposes. I liked the distinctions in the chapter on researching fracking, and the distinctions between political or scientific information, and opinions. This is the sort of thing that I can immediately identify, but a student might not see the difference between an editorial and a letter to the editor. A great deal of work has gone into the scenarios, so they represent the diversity of the kinds of searches we all do.
I read the book on an ipad mini and I found the interface was clean and appealing, there were no navigation problems. Some of the charts displayed across two pages, but that is minor and not distracting.
I didn't find any errors or awkward constructions. The language in the exercises is painsaking.
Technology is transforming education. We have the ability to amass great mounds of data, but then what do we do with it? I find that students like to do research, but they often see what they have gathered as being equal, they often tend not see any difference in the quality of the information they have found. The exercises force them to parse different kinds of information and assign credibility. This again is something that I do automatically, but students have to learn these skills. If there is a cultural bias inthe text, it is the assumption that we all have research access, although there is also information on using inter-library loan to access academic information.
I will use the exercises from the first chapter in my public history class. I appreciated the explanation of the more complex searches. I liked the exercise on using information in different formats. The section on photographs could be aumented with additional information, but that is a minor criticism. On the whole, I found this book useful, I learned several things, and I appreciated the unpacking of a skill that I take for granted, because I have done it for so long. This is is a thoughtful contribution to the ongoing discussion of how to teach students skills that will cross disciplines and that can be updated as new technologies emerge.
Table of Contents
- 1 Identify: Understanding Your Information Need
- 2 Scope: Knowing What Is Available
- 3 Plan: Developing Research Strategies
- 4 Gather: Finding What You Need
- 5 Evaluate: Assessing Your Research Process and Findings
- 6 Manage: Organizing Information Effectively and Ethically
- 7 Present: Sharing What You've Learned
- 8 Visual Literacy: Applying Information Literacy to Visual Materials
- 9 Science Literacy: Information Literacy in the Sciences
About the Book
Good researchers have a host of tools at their disposal that make navigating today's complex information ecosystem much more manageable. Gaining the knowledge, abilities, and self-reflection necessary to be a good researcher helps not only in academic settings, but is invaluable in any career, and throughout one's life. The Information Literacy User's Guide will start you on this route to success.
The Information Literacy User's Guide is based on two current models in information literacy: The 2011 version of The Seven Pillars Model, developed by the Society of College, National and University Libraries in the United Kingdom and the conception of information literacy as a metaliteracy, a model developed by one of this book's authors in conjunction with Thomas Mackey, Dean of the Center for Distance Learning at SUNY Empire State Col- lege.2 These core foundations ensure that the material will be relevant to today's students.
The Information Literacy User's Guide introduces students to critical concepts of information literacy as defined for the information-infused and technology-rich environment in which they find themselves. This book helps students examine their roles as information creators and sharers and enables them to more effectively deploy related skills. This textbook includes relatable case studies and scenarios, many hands-on exercises, and interactive quizzes.
About the Contributors
Deborah Bernnard is Head of the Dewey Graduate Library at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She is also a veteran information literacy instructor. She was a member of the committee that created UNL 205, Information Literacy, a one-credit undergraduate course, taught by University at Albany librarians since 2000. She also teaches a graduate course; Information Literacy Instruction: Theory and Technique. She has authored several book chapters and articles on information literacy topics.
Greg Bobish is an Associate Librarian at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He has taught credit-bearing information literacy courses since 2000 and enjoys experimenting with new educational technologies and new pedagogical approaches as he tries to convey the relevance of information literacy to his students’ lives. He has received the Chancellor’s and the President’s awards for Excellence in Librarianship.
Daryl Bullis is the Lead Instruction Librarian at Babson College. He received his BA in Classics and Russian from the University of New Hampshire, an MA in Russian and an MLS from the University at Albany, State University of New York. He has taught credit courses in Information Literacy and is currently researching best practices for adapting TBL methods to bibliographic instruction sessions.
Jenna Hecker is an instructional developer for the University at Albany, State University of New York and teaches Information Literacy in both face-to-face and online formats. She received her MLIS from the University of Rhode Island.
Irina Holden teaches Information Literacy in the Sciences and works as an Information Literacy and Science Outreach Librarian in the Science Library at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Her research interests include science literacy, reference and instruction in both traditional and virtual environments, sustainability and first year experience courses. Ms. Holden is a native of Ukraine.
Allison Hosier earned her MSIS from the University at Albany, State University of New York in 2011. She is currently an Information Literacy Librarian at Coastal Carolina University.
Trudi Jacobson is the Head of the Information Literacy Department at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She and Thomas Mackey developed the concept of metaliteracy, which has infused her teaching and her research. She loves the challenge and excitement of effective new teaching methods, and is currently involved in the development of a metaliteracy badging system. She was the recipient of the Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian of the Year award in 2009. She is honored to have taught or mentored all but one of the co-authors of this book when they were graduate students.
Tor Loney is a Youth Services Librarian at Albany Public Library, concentrating on teen engagement with a focus on creative arts and emerging technologies. He previously worked as an Information Literacy Librarian and Instructor at the University at Albany, State University of New York, where he earned his MLIS.