Library Research Seminar, Part 3 and Overall Impressions

Here is my final set of notes from Library Research Seminar – V, held last week at the University of Maryland. You can see my previous posts: Preview, Part 1, and Part 2

First year college students and information: A Phenomenographic investigation

Melissa Gross and Don Latham

Gross and Latham studied students who were considered less skilled in seeking information. They noted the Dunning Kruger effect – these students had a miscalibration between their self-views and their abilities on a test. (Those who were less skilled reported their own abilities as above average).  Gross and Latham wondered if this miscalibration was a metacognitive issue or is it based on different views of what information literacy is, between librarians and the students?  There were a number of interesting data points shared in this presentation, but the main finding was that the students perceptions of information did not line up with authorized definitions of information literacy. I was surprised to hear that the students did not recall hearing about information literacy in their K-12 schools, or at least not the way it is talked about in college.  In a minor point that interested me, the less skilled students also often seemed to remember using their elementary libraries primarily to take Accelerated Reader tests.  You can read more about this project here: http://attaininfolit.org/

Exploring Intentional Information Evaluation: Students’ Assessment of Complex Issues

Angela Sample, Sean Burns, John M. Budd

This study examined students in a college course and whether or not they can evaluate serious events critically. The assignment was based on a controversial Supreme Court decision about political spending by corporations in elections.  Students read a variety of sources, some of which were commentaries supporting the decision, others which opposed it. Students then participated in (sometimes heated) conversations in class, and wrote a paper about the decision.  The conversations and papers were analyzed for their contents, looking for facts, essence, and sense.  This was a pretty fascinating presentation.

Researching Literacies in Libraries Using Bourdieu’s Conceptual Tools

Beth Friese (that’s me!)

Then, it was my turn to present my paper. I shared my methodology for my dissertation, which will be an ethnographic study of literacies in  a middle school library using Pierre Bourdieu’s conceptual tools as a framework. Some of this topic stems from my frustration at the disconnect between the literacy and library communities.  I’m hoping this project will forge new pathways of dialogue for the two groups. On a personal note, it was great to share my work with such a warm and attentive audience.  I also got some positive comments and thoughtful critiques, which are greatly appreciated!  You’ll be hearing more about this project as time goes on.

After my presentation, I tried to get upstairs to see the posters.  I only got to see a few, but they covered many interesting topics across librarianship.  One that was especially timely to me was about the censorship of LGBT materials in public libraries.  In light of the recent suicides of LGBT young people, positive and supportive materials are even more important today. See the other abstracts from the poster sessions (and presentations) here.

The next panel I attended covered youth librarianship and literature.  I see that this panel has already been thoroughly discussed at Library Scenester by Erin Dorney, another conference fellowship recipient – check it out!

Finally, I attended an interactive session that was fascinating and fun:

Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and 21st century literacies

Derek Hansen, Assistant Professor; Kari Kraus, Assistant Professor; and Elizabeth Bonsignore, Doctoral student, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

Margeaux Johnson, Science and Technology Librarian and Instruction Coordinator, University of Florida

Georgina B. Goodlander, Interpretive Programs Manager, Smithsonian American Art Museum

This presentation focused on 21st century literacies (in part based on AASL’ Standards for the 21st Century Learner). Several examples of alternate reality games were presented, and libraries and museums figured into all of them.  There’s Humans Vs. Zombies, which takes place at numerous campuses across the country.  At the University of Florida, the library played a role in the game – they even have a Libguide about zombies that gave information relating to the game and has become a popular site for the library.

There have been two ARGS at the Smithsonian American Art Museum – Ghost of a Chance had online elements and then 250 participated in person.  They still played a version of the game once a month, and it ends this month, to be replaced by Pheon which was launching the online component the day of the presentation. Interaction with collection, art making, and interaction play roles in the games. The presenters talked about game design and implementation, which just sounded like complete participatory amazingness.  As I have discussed lately with my students, so many kids (of all ages!) love games. We even got to participate in a mini-game during the presentation, which had steampunk-like clues hidden in blogs, use of old documents, and participatory art. I thought this was an incredible presentation and I need to think about how to use this in my own work. We had such fun laughing and creating and participating.  I can see how this connects with learning and libraries and literacies.  Excellent!

There were other events I could comment on – roundtables and larger sessions, but I think I’ve about exhausted my audience with my notes from this conference.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience.  In my own work, I rarely get to talk to librarians in person. Sitting down to lunch between art librarians and chemistry librarians, or breakfast with archivists, notable scholars, or bloggers, it was wonderful to hear about different kinds of work but also see some common issues we are all facing: budget reductions, service changes, and shifts in thinking about the purpose of and connections between libraries, information institutions and communities in contemporary life.  I was pleased to see a question on the conference evaluation form about opening up opportunities for electronic participation in future Library Research Seminars.  Since this conference only happens every few years, I have a hunch that virtual participation will be even more an expectation when it comes time for LRS-VI.  Sharing high quality research with a wide audience should be part of our goals as a research community, and virtual participation is a vital part of that sharing.

I should also say another thanks to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which funded my attendance at the conference.  I hope I’ve managed to share a little of what happened there with a wider audience.  I look forward to attending the next Library Research Seminar – hopefully to report the findings of my dissertation research!

I complete this series just in time to prepare for the School Library Journal Leadership Summit next week. Hope I will see some of you there!  I am planning to post some advance thoughts on that conference and its theme before I leave.

Thanks again for reading!

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1 Response to “Library Research Seminar, Part 3 and Overall Impressions”


  1. 1 Erin 10.17.2010 at 2:39 am

    Hey Beth – Thanks for the shout-out! I’m really glad we got to meet and chat at the conference. I really had a great time! Good luck at your next one, I look forward to reading about it here on your blog 🙂


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