A book with its pages elegantly fanned out

Information literacy - More important than ever before

Today we are all faced with a never-ending stream of information demanding our attention. The skills to absorb and reflect on the validity and relevance of this material have become more than just good-to-knows, they are necessities. Unfortunately, with today’s packed curriculum, information literacy has become an assumed skill, rather than something developed and strengthened throughout a student’s schooling. More often than not, it lands on librarians to introduce these skills; however, instead of being able to flesh out these concepts slowly, librarians are often burdened with packing these life-skills into a few “how-to” library sessions.

If information literary is introduced too late into a child’s education (and then scarcely revisited), the library quickly becomes a place of anxiety – a maze of complicated rules. Not only that, but in this age of immediacy, information that isn’t literally at your fingertips is deemed too far away. No wonder so many students will settle for the top three returns on a Google search, or go on a panicked library spree, gathering a large amount of broadly related resources, instead of a narrow selection of relevant ones. So, how can we introduce these skills earlier so that students don’t have to face these challenges alone? How can we encourage students to see the library as the central hub of relevant, easy-to-find information? And how can we avoid the issue of the “copy-paster”?

The answers lie in collaboration

Information literacy needs to become a school-wide and even curriculum-wide project. Teacher/librarian collaboration (in equal partnership) needs to become the norm, where information literacy learning strategies are regularly and intentionally incorporated into lessons from an early age. However, it goes even deeper than that. Many library-anxious children grow up to become teachers who also need instruction on strategies for effective research, to pass on to their students. By encouraging good research habits early, you are stopping the cycle of libraryanxiety at its root, and fostering life-long learning (not to mention the next generation of librarians!).

Fortunately, Accessit makes teacher/librarian collaboration easy. With instructional Web App “how to” videos, students and teachers are encouraged to make the most of every research tool available to them. And since the Accessit Web App is accessible from any device, students and teachers can search the extensive catalogue, write reviews, and share resources with each other from anywhere, at any time. Teachers and librarians can collaborate over the creation of class-specific Reading Lists to aid research; and with Web App Circulation, the librarian can even visit classes with a selection of relevant resources, issuing to students on the spot. Not only that, but since Accessit creates citations for you, students can easily avoid the temptation to plagiarise – and instead focus on the ‘whys’ of the referencing, rather than the ‘hows’.

Accessit One Search - a teacher's best friend

Of course, it is the Accessit One Search tool that really enables students to quickly and reliably access academic articles and information on a topic with just a few simple clicks. Amy Featonby, former Assistant Head of English at Cambridge High School, agrees. “Accessit is a gateway to knowledge that allows me to extend my students. Initially, it seemed like something more for librarians – I was wrong! It has really helped my teaching, and my students’ grades are the proof that it’s making a real difference,” says Amy.

Amy has found Accessit to be a great classroom and teaching resource. “We used Accessit to support the level 3 literature resource standard. The standard requires students to find and use reliable and appropriate sources to develop a hypothesis, much like a first-year University paper. My class received 83% Excellence (with the remainder of students attaining Merit). The national average for Excellence in that standard is just 28.4%. When I asked the students how we aced it, they replied with two things – our focus and learning in class and One Search.” In creating lessons where the students practice these research skills, you’ll begin to empathise with the steps it takes for students to effectively complete those parts of an assignment that normally go unseen. Not only that, but your students’ reflections on the information they found, can help to inform just how much instruction they need on future research projects, and on the different resource formats they might encounter in the library – making the overarching learning so much more valuable.

Resources

Dahlgreen, MaryKay (2017). What Collaboration Means to Me: Playing Well With Others. Collaborative Librarianship, 9(4), 238-341. https://digitalcommons. du.edu/collaborativelibrarianship/vol9/iss4/2

Garvey, Maureen; Hays, Anne; and Stempler, Amy F. (2017). A Collaborative Intervention: Measuring the Impact of a Flipped Classroom Approach on Library One-shots for the Composition Classroom. Collaborative Librarianship, 9(4), 259-280. https://digitalcommons.du.edu/collaborativelibrarianship/vol9/iss4/5

Long, Deborah (2007). Increasing Literacy in the High School Library: Collaboration Makes It Happen. Teacher Librarian 35(1), 13-17.

Morrison, Katherine; Watkins, Alexander. (2015). Can only Librarians do Library Instruction? Collaborating with Graduate Students to Teach Discipline- Specific Information Literacy. The Journal of Creative Library Practice. http://creativelibrarypractice.org/2015/02/27/can-onlylibrarians-do-library- instruction/