Resources and Authority

Biteable BearI rolled out a new user education session last week – yes, you could call it information literacy (though you know I’m a bit conflicted about the expression, because I always fear students will find it patronising!)

A colleague had related anecdotally that students seemed to have picked up the impression that everything on our library discovery-layer was authoritative “because the librarian said so”.  Proud that we had been quoted as such an authority, I was nonetheless a bit alarmed.  EVERYTHING? Had we told them to place blind trust in EVERYTHING there, recordings, digital scores, the lot?

It was time to sort things out.  I offered a seminar about primary and secondary research sources, authoritative and less authoritative ones, what you could trust, and where you needed to tread with caution.  What might be “authoritative” in a sound recording, and why “online” is actually just a format – it’s the content that matters.  It seemed to go down well.

Throwing caution to the wind, I let the students know they were trialling this session, – although I would never usually TELL students they were guinea-pigs –  and sought feedback about my Biteable reminder at the end.  I was convinced they’d find the bear cartoons childish, but apparently not – he went down perfectly okay!  However, I do intend to have another look at the cartoon options, because there’s a limit to how often you can employ the same bear!

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