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Information Literacy versus Transliteracy

This is a g0od thought piece on information literacy and transliteracy. Read it and feel smarter:

From: Reorganizing literacy on the Sense and Reference blog

This is one of the posts that summarizes the discussion and moves it forward.



Posted on: November 16, 2011, 6:36 am Category: Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Jay Velgos said

    Stephen, thanks for linking to this! I *did* feel smarter after reading it!

    What struck me most, however, was an opinion the author expressed in a comment following his post:

    I’m not so sure anymore that librarians play much of a role in information literacy. Reference librarians may be the most information literate professionals around, but I agree with Wayne Bivens-Tatum (cf. “The Myth of Information Literacy”) that creating “information literate” students may exceed our reach.

    It appears he’s saying that librarians can assist on the “communicative” elements of literacy, but not so much the “evaluative” ones. What are your thoughts on that? If librarians aren’t teaching students those evaluative skills, who will?

  2. Hi Jay:
    As always when people discuss things in black and white, the truth is somewhere in the gray.
    Think of this in terms of other ‘professionals”.
    We (civiized society) get nearly all adults to know arithmetic and possibly mathematics through education. We don’t get everyone to the point where they can do an audit like a CPA or financial analysis and projections like an MBA.
    We get most folks to be able to handle their hygiene and nutrition needs and stay healthy. They occasionally need an expert – doctor, surgeon, pharmacist, nurse, dentists, moedical tech, etc.
    We all obey the laws as much as possible and learn this, but, we still occasionally need a lawyer for the bigger more important things. (even though we can buy will and testament kits or a make-your-own-divorce kits).
    I think the real future is what these professions do. You atempt to make sure everyone has basic/intermediate skills and you embed them through the education system or build it into the regulatory infrastructure. Most importantly you teach them when they can do it themselves and how to identify those moments when the problem exceeds their skills. We know when to take an aspirin or Tylenol and we know when we need to go to the family doctor and sometimes we can know when it’s time for the specialist, urgent care or emergency room.
    In the new economy that is clearly emerging that is based on employment in information and knowledge decision-based work I believe that we can teach the basic skills and not feel bad that everyone isn’t a lawyer, doctor, pharmacist or full scale mini-librarian.
    I think that I’ve been a librarian with PhD’s, MBA’s, CPA’s, doctors, nurses, lawyers, and more cool professions that I can count. I’ve supported brilliant professionals (and huge egos) who knew what they were doing in their field. It wasn’t the best use of their time for them to also self-help with the information discovery space when their effort / impact was better used elsewhere and someone like me could do it much better (faster, more complete and higher quality) as an information professional / librarian / partner / peer. I also knew how to design and build products, sources, databases, intranets, etc. that allowed them to self help for much of their needs, but not all.
    See, it’s the gray. We have a real opportunity to build a great information future.