Monday, September 04, 2006

There is a need for information literacy!

Even though I was in the process of painting my bathroom last Thursday, I still had time (during a tea break) to read a very interesting article in The Guardian Technology section (,,1861112,00.html) about web searching habits. It seems that the first result on any search engine will get 42.1% of click throughs, meaning that web searchers have so much faith in the search engine coming up with the goods that they'll trust that top result. But does it mean, the author asks, that the top result contains factual information?

This is the problem that many of us librarians face when delivering information skills training to students. As I stand in front of 400 new medical students on the 2nd of October my main message will be "Don't click the first result!!". I will be using exercises and problem based learning to teach them how to find good quality information on the web.

And so with our RLOs. These useful little tools will also help to increase awareness about the importance of information literacy. To evaluate the information they find as well as how to reference it correctly are still vital skills for students. A colleague of mine today returned from a meeting of academics who are creating a set of classes on reading, comprehending and evaluating academic papers. We can slot into this training and support our academics with online courses, face to face sessions and electronic RLOs. We can use articles like the one in The Guardian to promote our services to those who know that there is an information skills gap.

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