From Barbara Ciambor, Outreach Librarian, Rochester Regional Library Council

The Information Literacy Continuum Committee, working under the auspices of the Rochester Regional Library Council (RRLC), is an example of a collaborative group of academic, school and public librarians in the Rochester, NY area, committed to ensuring that students in K-12 and higher education institutions learn information seeking skills. The group has developed a continuum of information literacy skills needed for a transition from high school to college.

The committee was first formed in 2004 as a result of a Library Services and Technology Act funded, New York State Library Division of Library Development grant awarded to RRLC, to promote the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library (NOVEL) databases. The committee’s original charge was to encourage lifelong learning through the use of the NOVELNY databases but the group quickly broadened its scope to include students’ information literacy skills.

Area academic librarians were concerned that students entered their institutions lacking basic information literacy skills, yet school librarians knew they were teaching these skills. There was obviously a disconnect somewhere, and librarians were interested in working collaboratively to define the disconnect and discover what could be done about it.

The committee posed the question ‘What if we could develop a document that would assist students with the high school to college transition, introducing specific skills with reinforcement as part of the process?’”

A lengthy collaboration produced the “Core Library & Research Skills Grade 9-14+” document which outlines grade levels at which specific skills in each step are expected to be introduced and mastered. The document has been shared throughout the Rochester area, at a workshop hosted by St. John Fisher College, for the Rochester Area School Librarians (RASL) and feedback has been received from librarians in the U.S. and abroad. Committee members have had the opportunity to present at regional library meetings and conferences, including a joint presentation with the Buffalo area High School to College group at the Spring Sharing session of the School Librarians’ Association of Western New York (SLAWNY)

Information Literacy Continuum Committee members have organized and participated in a variety of programs to help educate school and academic librarians about information literacy instruction at the different levels. School librarians have attended academic library orientations, which include tours of library buildings as well as discussions about library instruction at the host institution. Academic librarians share their expectations for incoming students, and high school librarians discuss their experiences teaching students information literacy skills. An “Information Literacy Discussion Forum” was held, attended by both school and academic librarians.

Collaborative activities have included a panel presentation by academic librarian members to a faculty meeting at Brockport High School. The college and university librarians discussed what they felt were the skills students were lacking, and made suggestions as to what high school teachers and librarians could do to address these issues. Topics of discussion ranged from note taking and writing skills to research and social skills. Overall the resounding message was that incoming college students need to better understand the research process, including how to take adequate notes, identify or focus a topic and associated key words or phrases, how to evaluate web sources, and how to cite sources. The panel stressed that repetition and reinforcement was critical to success, all agreed that the more students wrote and researched in high school the better.

The panel discussion generated a great deal of positive feedback from Brockport High School faculty and administration, with one teacher observing “It was great to make a connection with people in the academic arena, they reaffirmed that we’re on the right track. I definitely gleaned some good ideas from their feedback.” The high school librarians have also stated that the experience of collaboration has added a level of credibility to interactions with students and teachers, sharing the realistic expectations of librarians and faculty at the college level.

Two new members representing public libraries have joined the committee. With their input, the committee will broaden its focus to learn how information literacy can be supported across a “continuum” of lifelong learning.


Sean Cordes, Assistant Professor, Instruction Services Coordinator, Western Illinois University

Brian Clark, Assistant Professor, Library Faculty Instructor, Western Illinois University

Amy Harris, First-Year Instruction Coordinator and Reference Librarian, The University of North Carolina – Greensboro

Okay, back to summarizing LOEX sessions. I want to write about Game on (and on) at this particular time as I will be using some of the information (hopefully) to create an interactive tutorial scavenger hunt for our young archaeologists who will be on campus in July. My goal is to follow-up on the “town hall” meeting of July 14 – the introduction to the camp where we set the stage and present different perspectives on the stadium vs cultural preservation debate – and have students come to Research & Rhetoric (R&R) class the following day prepared with some historical information on the Seneca in the Genesee Valley. If all works as planned, students will learn how to use our OPAC, find books and maps in the library, use newspaper indexes and microfilm machines to find primary documents, and sufficiently search the web for other relevant information. If anyone knows off hand of any great digitized collections on the Seneca (Iroquois) in NYS, please forward those links on. I can always do the background work, but it will save a lot more time to have ready-made recommended sites.

So, Game on (and on) . . .

In this session, three speakers presented the value of virtual gaming to teach ACRL IL standards. Amy Harris (UNCG) co-created the Information Literacy Game with Scott Rice (Appalachian State University), and Cordes and Clark followed-up on Amy’s demonstration of the IL Game with their own iteration. The original goal of game creation was to extend learning beyond the one-shot session and the games are primarily intended for students at the first-year level.

Amy gave a good demonstration of her game, and I could explain the in’s and out’s here but it may be best to just try to game out for yourself. Here are a few easy tips related to the game for a faster read on how it applies to ACRL’s IL standards:

Color coding and icons are used for the type of questions students will be asked:

  • · green=searching databases
  • · blue=citing sources (MLA and APA) & avoiding plagiarism
  • · red=wildcard
  • · purple=books
  • · light bulbs=website evaluation
  • · !=gameboard piece (move forward, bckward, skip, etc.)
  • · ?=information about the game

Students move around the game board and answer questions, working against the clock. They can work independently or with others. The game is driven either by keyboard strokes or with a mouse.

The beauty of what Harris and Rice have constructed is that the game is easily adaptable for any other library who are free to “make it their own” with downloadable sound and visuals and library-specific questions and directions. The system is designed for the non-techie so just about anyone can adapt the game. The Information Literacy Game has become so popular that 2300 rounds were played within the last 2 years and it will appear first on a Google list with the search phrase “information literacy games.”

Cordes and Clark stepped in next to discuss how they adapted the game to make it unique to Western Illinois University (WIU) and to demonstrate how easy it is to do so. A few modifications that were made at WIU:

  • · Addition of questions related to media, visual, and multicultural literacies
  • · Employment of AT&T 21st century literacies. Start w/question, identify & collect information, evaluate, make sense, reflect & refine, using information and assess
  • · Transformation of as many 2D objects into 3D as possible (i.e., bullets were updated)
  • · Change of color and graphics (i.e, college logo) to brand the game as one belonging to WIU (be sure to cover all related pages as well as the top level website)
  • · Addition of more colorful graphics (i.e., MS clipart) laid over originals
  • · Change of title to represent library’s newly modified game
  • · Implemented sorry! and roll on! when students answer incorrectly. Reasons are always given for why the answer is wrong so that student continue to learn, even from their mistakes.
  • · Game emulates Trivial Pursuit where students try to collect one of each color on the board

A few tips for those wanting to transform the IL Game:

  • · Become friends w/bgame.css (Dreamweaver properties provide new styles to choose from)
  • · <div class=”game” id=”main”> very important since not everything is provided in the game files (I’ll have to actually try to modify the game to know what all of this means)
  • · – for $15, download as many clipart images as possible in a week (many 3D images to choose from)

o choose icons that students will relate to

o re-use icons as much as possible. They are helpful for the game but can be used in many other projects.

The session ended with a live demonstration of Clark and Cordes’ game. Unfortunately, I cannot seem to easily find a link to the game, and there haven’t been any links added to the LOEX 2008 site.

Cordes and Clark plan to take the idea of IL gaming one step further and develop a complete game arcade. They caution, however, that librarians pick and choose games very carefully, giving considerable thought to what students will really learn from the game(s). If librarians can successfully prove that students are indeed learning from the interactive tools, this could be a very powerful sell to faculty.

Currently, there is another game based on a mouse trap that involves critical thinking & problem solving. Based on answers provided by students, a path is drawn, and the goal is to reach the designated final destination. Definitely worth seeking out online.

In the end, I’m not sure if a game board activity is right for what I have in mind for our middle school students. I have been thinking about diving into Camtasia or Captivate, and a colleague has also informed me of Jing. I talked with a librarian from SUNY Plattsburgh at the SUNYLA Conference who has created tutorials in Camtasia and I’m not so sure I have the time for the required learning curve. So much to do, so little time. Perhaps my end goals for this scavenger hunt are a little lofty given my time constraints. We’ll see.

I was able to take a break from preparing a committee presentation yesterday to focus attention on another conference session on IL assessment.  Rudy Leon (SUNY Potsdam) has outdone herself with conference presentations and has arranged for 2 separate, but connected, panel sessions on assessment techniques.  The first will focus on program assessment, and a colleague of mine will report on Milne Library’s experience with SAILS.  Not sure if Bonnie will also talk about assessment techniques used for our campus’ required freshman writing course.  At present, all sections of INTD 105 are required to bring their class to the library for at least one visit.  This is the only FULL program where we can target a specific cohort of students and know what level of instruction they’re getting and what they “should” know before moving on to other subject-specific courses.  The system is not perfect, however.  Some students won’t take INTD 105 until their spring semester and could possibly be involved in heavy course-integrated library instruction before taking INTD 105 (but in most cases, will not even enter the library until the spring semester).  In other cases, some professors do not bring their INTD 105 class into the library, despite the requirement.  If professors opt for that one-time visit, the focus is typically on a basic introduction to the library’s services and resources.  We’ve been fortunate to have many professors request multiple sessions.  So, we see all sorts of instruction levels that our freshmen receive.  It has been a real chore to boil down the bare minimum of what every student should get, as far as research skills, if we assume that every student will be involved in at least a 50-minute library instruction session.  Then, we worked together to revise our assessment tool, making questions correlate to those bare minimum skills, using practical, real-life examples.  There hasn’t been any talk of administering the survey to our incoming freshmen at summer orientation.  I hope that we can get this done since we have no information thus far on what skills our students come into Geneseo with.  It’s great to know what they have captured after a library session, but it’s possible that some students come to college with that knowledge already engrained.  It all depends on the level of resources and instruction provided by the individual high schools.

The second panel session (ah, yes, back to my original thought of SUNYLA 2008) will focus on assessment at the classroom teaching level.  My portion of the presentation is a little bit of a hybrid since the assessment is done at the classroom level but in an attempt to have all Anthropology majors up to speed on the research skills needed to become scholars within their field.  The cumulative list of assessment techniques date back to Fall 2003, with new ideas popping up every semester.  Kintz and I have certainly accumulated a whole packet of different tools, some that have worked better than others.  I’m pleased with the 2 slide powerpoint presentation that I worked up and the structure of what I plan to say.  Now, I just need to have a good idea of how I’m going to say what I want to say.  All within 15 minutes.  I think I can do it.  Not so sure I can get my husband to stay up and listen to a rough rehearsal.

With Ellen’s retirement – although I’m so happy that she’s staying on to teach one class in the fall – I’ll have to work closely with ANTH faculty to keep the program alive.  Baby steps.  The real-life proof of what the professors have been seeing as far as the quality of student work far outweighs any statistics we can throw at them, but still I wonder if the casual statistics we’ve been keeping are worth much.  Ellen and I would really like to publish a paper but our “methodology” has been so back and forth, again based on whatever we pulled together each semester.  In total, we have some pretty good tools, qualitative and some quantitative data, but is it too scattered?

I have been working recently with a student registered in one of the Anthropology courses I participated in last semester. This student, a freshman, never hesitated to take Ellen and I up on our offer in the fall to ask for help when needed and rely on those people with the right set of skills/knowledge. Many times, I met with this student to check her web, journal, and book sources for the ANTH course, especially as exams and final projects were due. I helped answer questions concerning the American Antiquity citation style used for Ancient Civilization in the Americas. I was always impressed with this student’s level of conscienciousness and lack of fear to come ask for help. She took full advantage of the resources available to her on campus, specifically in the Library. Because of this, she will do well in her next 3 years at SUNY Geneseo. Whatever skills and attitudes she learned in her first semester on campus have certainly been incorporated into her learning style and work ethic this spring semester. She does not hesitate to write to me when she needs help with research and citations. I spent this morning working with her, virtually, to help clarify some mistakes in her latest works cited page. I have published our “conversation” on the web.

It is truly gratifying to know that I must have made a good impression on this student. Enough for her to continuously come back to me for help and guidance. In working with Ellen, our goal is to help students studying Anthropology reach a higher bar in their academic career. We see this happening throughout the semesters’ courses, but when students come back for help, OUTSIDE of the ANTH courses, you know that you have touched them and made an impact far beyond the required work for 1 class in particular. A fantastic feeling and one that constantly reminds me why I love my job so much.