Hello, Fall 2016!

Fall 2016. Time flies.


New semester means a new instruction intern at Gorgas Information Services. Welcome to Kelly Groves! You will be hearing from Kelly throughout the semester as she blogs about her adventures in instruction and research.


This semester we’ve got a lot going on. On an organizational level, we are 1.5 years into a curriculum mapping project that has already proven it’s value in helping us better assess the degree paths of our undergraduates and being to re-imagine our role in that path. We are implementing a new assessment program for our first year writing instruction, and along with this assessment we are starting to test the validity of our implementation of the Framework, which is very exciting! And we are doing a soft pilot of a new collaboration with first semester composition, which we have not traditionally worked with.

I am so excited to see what else this semester brings!

Introduction to Library Searching

I am currently reviewing our learning outcomes, worksheets, and rubrics as the new semester approaches. One of our lesson options for second semester composition classes poses such a difficult quandary: Full Text. Ebook. Web Content. So much of our collection is available in electronic formats, but the formats are not consistent, and students don’t know how to look at a record and anticipate what format they are accessing. In this lesson, we are attempting to address some of the broad media and digital literacy pitfalls students encounter when they are beginner researchers. Things that researchers didn’t really have to face in years past.


Introduction to Library Searching

“In this session, students will learn how to use the library’s search engine Scout, and how to find databases using the database page. This session will not cover controlled vocabulary or keywords (covered in Option 2), or advanced search strategies in Scout or in individual databases (covered in Option 4).”


Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Students will use Scout to locate PDF, ebook, and physical book items in order to demonstrate an understanding of the different formats within the library’s collections Students use the names of formats (“PDF”; “ebook”) as search terms in order to locate an item of that format in Scout. Students use limiters on the left hand navigation exclusively in order to try to filter their search for format type. Students use strategic search terms such as discipline jargon and phrases such as “case study” or “research” in order to retrieve items that fall into expected format categories.


The challenge for librarians in this lesson is to make this content as active as possible. To engage students in the search, instead of presenting information lecture-style.The expectation many professors have as they approach librarians for instruction is that their students will perhaps get a tour and be introduced to the basic resources that the library has to offer, but we’ve found that students benefit from professors and librarians having more in-depth conversations about what kinds of research the student needs to accomplish in order to complete the coursework for their class, and then narrow exposure from “the basic resources that the library has to offer” to “the resources a student will need to accomplish this course’s/assignment’s work.”


To make this lesson as active as possible, I typically push my students into the deep end, helping them navigate to Scout, asking them to find an item in a given format, and then engaging them in peer instruction. Students demonstrate their searches by retracing their steps for the rest of the class. This can seem intimidating, but I work hard to take the pressure off of everyone. This exercise accomplishes several things: when students share their search steps, they reflect and remember, reinforcing their learning. When several students retrace their steps, we discover there are inevitably multiple ways to find any given thing, and they learn that searching is messy and creative and that some strategies yield different results than others.


For more information about our EN 102 lesson plans and library instruction program, please see our Library Guide for EN 102 Instructors (guides.lib.ua.edu/en102instructors)

How The Citation Project Helps Librarians Promote Fair Use

As I think about Fair Use this week, I find myself reflecting on a conversation that I had several years ago with a writing instructor friend. We are at The University of Alabama, and a student of hers wanted to know if he needed to find a source to support a statement that he considered common knowledge– Bear Bryant coached alabama football and won several national championships. This anecdote brings up a more complex question for many students: what is “public knowledge” and what needs to be cited? How do I know the difference?
The Citation Project has given us a lot of information about the patterns of student writing that are typically classified as “plagiarism. ” Through the data they have collected, we gain insight into how students are engaging with sources, and we can examine plagiarism cases through a more complex lens. The exciting thing about the Citation Project’s work is that it helps educators take advantage of the teaching moment. It helps us examine these wayward “plagiarism” cases as formative assessments, allowing us to adjust our pedagogy to reflect the confusion that a student has about fair use of sources, and the ethics of writing. The Citation Project’s usefulness is not limited to the writing instructor. Librarians can use the information provided in the data gathered to help support the ethical use of information through conversations about the iterative nature of research (coaching them away from what Bartholomae calls “dogmatic writing”). By convincing students to write about what they learn while researching rather than researching for a preconceived idea, we can perhaps help them gain a better understanding of what needs to be cited, and we further them along the road to informed citizenship.

Fair use, Library Instruction, and First-year Students

Association of Research Libraries
Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week- 22-26 February 2016

“Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week is an annual celebration of the doctrine of fair use and fair dealing. It celebrates the important role fair use plays in achieving the Constitutional purpose of intellectual property rights in the US.” – Association of Research Libraries

In this series, bloggers from within the libraries and from the UA campus community talk about Fair Use, and how it applies to our lives as citizens and scholars.

The Framework for Information Literacy states that “Scholarship is a Conversation– Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations.” Without the fundamental right of fair use, the scholarly conversation would be impeded, and student engagement with new and unfamiliar ideas would be stymied. Through library instruction, we have the opportunity to facilitate a student’s engagement in the scholarly conversation, and to encourage fair use of information- the analysis of a visual artifact, the use of a quote as evidence, and even the provision of information through the libraries’ collections– in order to provide the environment and the resources for a rich and deep learning experience.

Some of the many skills we hope to teach our students during their college experience are finding, evaluating, and using sources to support their research. While students have had some experience with academic writing and research in their high school experience, many of the skills and expectations introduced to them in these first two semesters are completely different from anything that they’ve done before. Through our  partnership with First-year Writing, the University Libraries help to educate new students in these very skills, which enable them to exercise their fundamental right of fair use. From newspaper articles, to personal blogs, to a student taking their first steps in engaging in the scholarship in their chosen discipline, librarians partnering with first-year writing instructors to teach students to engage with sources and keep track of their research. Engagement through fair use comes in the form of summary, paraphrase, and quotation, and is an integral part of teaching source engagement. As students move on to life after graduation, they retain these skills, allowing them to participate as active citizens in a world filled with information.

Once Upon a Time: Storytelling in the Information Literacy Classroom

Once Upon A Time small

On April 9th, Lauren, Paige, Claire and I presented a poster at Alabama Library Association’s annual convention in Point Clear, AL. It was the perfect way to end a semester of hard work and dedication for these excellent SLIS graduate students.

For more information about our poster, please check out the documents I have attached below: