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By far, the most informative and interesting session that I attended was the update from the task force who will be revising the ACRL Information Literacy Standards. This task force has a daunting but very important job ahead of them. Included in their goals are moving the standards from their current “inventory of skills” format to a more general framework, including multiple types of literacies, and allowing for the standards to fit better with multiple disciplines. All this work is to be done with the ambitious goals of producing an interim report by September, publishing a draft in C&RL News by December, receiving and discussing comments and revisions after Midwinter, and voting as an action item for approval at Annual next year.
There was an interesting discussion about how librarians are currently using the standards at their institutions. Current uses include assessment, curriculum mapping, instructional design, persuasion of administrators for the cause of information literacy, and serving as a basis for cross-institutional dialogue (as we’re doing here at MSU). The conversation surrounding the question “What is missing from the current standards?” was also very engaging. Some points that were raised include:
• The language of the standards was addressed several times as being too “jargon-y” for people outside the library to understand.
• Librarians would like additional resources to be developed alongside the standards, such as a resource bank for teaching and assessment tips.
• The “anti-checklist” sentiment was strong (I may be a wee bit biased on this as it’s one of my soapbox issues) with calls for the standards to paint a more holistic picture of an information literate person who embodies IL practices. Librarians also want the standards to consider affective skills and psychosocial development. The most interesting take I heard along these lines was from a librarian who suggested approaching the standards in terms of “norms” or “situated normativity” rather than competencies. He mentioned an article by a philosopher that I just may have to sink my teeth into – see citation at the end of the report.
• Librarians also find the standards challenging in their current format when it comes to scaling them up, for example to graduate students or with a focus on workplace literacy.
Some suggestions for the task force included many reading materials, from the philosophy article mentioned above to dissertations about the effectiveness of the ACRL standards. Including perspectives from students, professors in other disciplines, and professionals outside the field were also recommended. Finally, creating a “sandbox” or community space for librarians and other interested parties to try some creative approaches to the new standards was brought up.
I am very eager to see the task force’s draft.
Erik Rietveld. Situated Normativity: The Normative Aspect of Embodied Cognition in Unreflective Action Mind (October 2008) 117 (468): 973-1001 doi:10.1093/mind/fzn050
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