I’ve been thinking a bit about he role of librarians in educating information users. As you all know, we operate in an interactive global information environment. Information is everywhere and not every one who finds it realizes the ease of adding information to the world wide web and the nature of that information.
The things I learned from Ms. Garner and Ms. Roy in elementary school library skills classes have stood me well. Now I can’t remember exactly where and when I needed to use the “right” sources but I knew that the library would always guide me to the “right” sources.
Earlier this week I participated in a focus group about the Kentucky Virtual Library and one of my fellow participants spent some time discussing the ideas around how K-12 students learn how to use online sources. The curriculum is there for some source verification but is it enough.
From the other end of the spectrum, librarians that support information workers in the corporate world are still educating users about finding and relying on information from verifiable reliable sources. I remember a particular instance where all the librarians I was working with got on the same soapbox at the same time when we realized that some shoddy research and shoddy sources were being used on a major project. We immediately took up the mantle of educating that researcher on the difference between good information and information that bored and angry Joe the construction worker can upload and tout as correct.
Educating end-users will always be a part of the knowledge workplace. I just think that the right curriculum repeated throughout the formal education process just gives the work-place educator a stronger foundation to build upon.
Savvy users and information professionals will always struggle against the idea that what you find easily is the best and only source out there. Basic skills are the only weapons that can be used to disarm this reliance on keyword searching and retrieval of optimized for search engine content.
Constance Ard September 24, 2009