Research part ii (2) it's not your grandmother's library


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Research part ii (2) it's not your grandmother's library

  1. 1. It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Library Anymore! Or is it?In his groundbreaking article “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants”, Marc Prensky illustrated thedivide between educators and students in relation to the rise of information technology. Heargued that Digital Immigrants had a new world thrust upon them, one with new languages,mores, and learning styles while Digital Natives were already embracing, even challenging, theways information is retrieved, stored, and disseminated.The article was published in 2001. At that time, there was no Wikipedia. No iPhones,Blackberrys or Netbook computers. The first iPod had been introduced that year, holding 5 gigsof storage and costing over $400. The founders of Google had just moved their startup out of aMenlo Park garage. YouTube was still four years away. Can anyone stay ahead of this tsunamiof information?Librarians adapted to, and adopted, the changes in information technology at a dizzying pace. Inturn, the challenges and rewards of student research have taken on a higher profile. AlthoughDigital Natives have access to the avalanche of information at their fingertips, they need to beeven more skilled at research then their digital immigrant ancestors were. When research waslimited to print and geographic constraints it was much easier to decide what information wasbest suited to answer our research needs. In the digital world, learning how to assess, evaluate,navigate and choose the appropriate resources takes on greater importance, there is just so muchmore of it often without the benefit of an editorial eye to authenticate and evaluate for you.“Information literacy”, meaning the ability to identify, retrieve, evaluate, and use information hasbecome an invaluable set of skills that students need in order to succeed in our highly technical,information overloaded world.Developing information literacy skills begins very early at Wheeler. These skills are explicitlyand implicitly included in the research experience in every division and across disciplines. Weoften make the assumption that digital natives while skilled users of the hardware that deliverstheir music, e-books, and social networks, are also skilled at finding and using informationeffectively and honestly. Just as students need to be guided to the literary canon or to the worksof the finest historians or brilliant scientists, so too must they be guided to the best sources tomeet their information needs especially when delivered digitally.If we accept the premise that research and effective use of digitally managed information areimportant skills for today’s student, then librarians can be the guides through this sometimesoverwhelming digital landscape. We are practiced in this research and evaluation field and workto disseminate that information to all members of the school community. The fact that kids canfind answers to questions outside of the library makes expressly teaching them to be educatedconsumers of information essential. Teaching them to find and use information in a deep andmeaningful way requires professional guidance and the opportunity to practice the process with
  2. 2. success. With independent library research, students can make mistakes, explore at their ownpace, and follow their own passions without the burden of a grade or a requirement.We can help foster learners who are curious, independent risk-takers. Graded curricular projectsprovide students the opportunities to practice these essential 21st century skills. Projects createdin collaboration with classroom teachers and librarians provide students with the value addedexperience of investigating these resources with purpose and guidance; effective searchingauthenticating the information and using it to discern new meaning and understanding takes timeand practice at all developmental levels.Using technology as one of many delivery systems now vital to the research process, theInformation Literacy aspect of Wheeler’s Library curriculum is integrated throughout thedepartment and divisions. Our goal is to prepare our students to be critical thinkers, creativeproblem solvers, effective and ethical users of information and technology and goodcollaborators in the process of deriving meaning from the wealth of information at theirfingertips.