Fostering Information Literacy
For a school librarian, particularly in the first couple of years, it can be a struggle to maintain a
sound program that meets the needs of
the students, faculty, and administration. One challenge in particular that
has made my life difficult is clunky and
inaccessible web design software.
Although I battled daily to keep
student resources and library information current, I also had to painstakingly push my way through the restrictive updating process to make the
most of what I had: pages of simple
web links to “important websites” and
PDF uploaded document pathfinders.
As far as my faculty and students were
concerned, it met their needs and expectations. But as a professional, I felt
trapped. I needed a comprehensive
site that trained my students not only
to find information, but also to discern the quality and allow them to effectively synthesize that information.
In the age of social media and web 2.0,
there had to be a way to create a “
virtual learning community” rather than
an inward-looking, static website.
LibGuides to the Rescue
The content management and publishing system LibGuides came into my
life when I needed it most. LibGuides
is most often used as a vehicle to present a wide array of library resources
and research support in the form of
subject and course guides, and it allows for the integration of multimedia
content. But I use LibGuides as a tool
for library website design and information literacy support. It has proven
to be accessible, user friendly, and effective for learning and teaching.
Whenever faculty members request
my help, I design a LibGuide tailored
specifically for their projects. These
By Jennifer Thomas
guides offer a project overview, including the assignment and rubrics, useful
books in the library, featured databases
and websites, as well as notes and mini-lessons on plagiarism, note taking, and
MLA citation. LibGuide has improved
student access to and comfort levels
with project-specific resources, and it
provides a sound foundation for building assessments.
The LibGuide alleviated the chaos
that normally accompanies any
classroom project. It allows both the
teacher and the students to maintain
organization throughout the research
process and provides support through
the completion of the final product.
The project LibGuide simplifies what
is often an overwhelming process and
is as useful for the classroom teacher
as it is for the students.
Content Management with Netvibes
Recently I collaborated with Spanish
teacher Abigail Theberge on a project
to design a Netvibes site. Netvibes is
a free web tool that manages content
and allows users to create personalized spaces, similar to Pageflakes or
iGoogle. Each student was assigned a
region in Spain and was required to
research that region using the library
resources listed on the LibGuide page.
I taught several lessons on information literacy skills before the students
embarked on their research. They
used the project LibGuide I created
to reinforce and support the information literacy skills they learned,
which enabled effective research for
the creation of their Netvibes site. The
unit, called Una Vista de España (A
View of Spain), was the first example