Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

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Brookens Library promotes importance of information literacy

This October, UIS Librarians are joining thirty-one other states in the cause for Information Literacy. Sarah Sagmen, Director of Learning Commons, explains that UIS plans to create a new blog along with their current one called Faculty Focus.

In August of 2012, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a proclamation which would allow Illinois to participate in National Information Literacy Month.

The goal is to offer concrete ideas for faculty on how they can better present the library’s services

Sagmen explained learning how to use information is key to making important decisions in life.

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Stephen McMinn, Director of Collections, agrees that students need to be more aware of information literacy and how it can affect them. “When I’m working at the reference desk, people come up asking you about doing a paper on Nixon. Just trying to do a broad overview is pretty hard; you need to narrow it down. The more you try to narrow it down, the more important it is. That not only applies to school, it applies to life.”

Whether checking out a candidate to vote for or looking for reviews on Yelp, McMinn says that being able to evaluate information will make student’s lives so much easier.

The digital age has affected a librarian’s role, especially here at UIS. Nancy Weichert, Visiting Professor of Instructional Services, has a great visual about the transition.

“It’s like trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant, there’s so much information it’s overwhelming. Like Jane Treadwell… said, being information literate is really being able to discern information,” Weichert said.

Jane Treadwell, University Librarian and Dean, said that the library has more students coming to it than ever before. “Our circulation hasn’t gone down much; what has increased is the amount of information available to people through electronic resources. We have ten times the amount of information for our students and staff than we did ten years ago. When there is so much information out there, we need to know what’s the right information that’s going to be helpful for you,” Treadwell explained.

What this boils down to, for Sagmen, is the misconception by students that libraries are only a book business. “Borders was a book business; we’re in the information business. The best resource you will have in a library is not the source or the book, but the librarian who will help you,” she said.

The delusion that an Internet connection is better than being information literate is hurting libraries in the state of Illinois. One disturbing issue for Treadwell is the disappearing resources at Illinois schools, especially at the younger grade levels.

“Schools in under-privileged areas are most likely to see these cuts; I think our society is doing a disservice to those children, by taking away something that could help them be successful as adults,” Treadwell said.

Primary and secondary schools are now coming to Brookens to see a school library, because these schools no longer have the resources or staff to teach children how to research.

John Laubersheimer, Clinical Assistant Professor with Library Services, pointed out that it hurts librarians to try new outreach programs in schools.

“My mom works in Springfield high schools, and she sees her budgets slashed pretty heavily. She complains that it impacts her ability to do anything other than administer a dusty collection of books. It really impacts her on what the new version of the job requires,” Laubersheimer said.

Laubersheimer likes to see librarians now as more of an access point than a curator of books. Information Literacy Month encourages UIS students to realize the importance of coming to the library and asking for help.

“Information literacy is important, especially to a working society, so that we can prosper, be an intelligent society, so our citizens can contribute in positive, ethical way,” Treadwell said.

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