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Dean’s Update: Librarians are Challenged to Engage Learners to Develop Information-Savvy Habits

June 5, 2018

I recently witnessed an incident when influential University administrators demonstrated a lack of information savviness. But what was even more disturbing was their unawareness that a library is a good place to turn for help when Google alone doesn’t uncover what is needed. It made me wonder how librarians can address the challenge of engaging academic role models, let alone those striving to become effective participants and leaders in the information age.

In the classroom and formal learning situations, a teacher prescribes the paths to take to reach specific learning outcomes. In informal learning environments, such as libraries, learners are expected to take ownership of their own pathways to develop new skills or improve behaviors. Those who are information savvy—who know how to frame their curiosity to find information, to evaluate what is uncovered, to critically utilize the sources to formulate and then responsibly present evidence—are well on their way to being life-long learners who can confidently address the unknown.

Librarians carry a passion for instilling the powerful impact authoritative information has on building evidence for making decisions and sharing new knowledge and insights, and they work to inspire the quest for life-long learning by helping build habits of navigating and utilizing information. Among first steps to raise awareness of the Libraries’ value is to engage with the University community—to demonstrate our expertise and to establish the resources we vet as trustworthy.

In this issue of In Circulation, we have highlighted some different events that took place this past month that illustrate ways we try to inspire the quest for life-long learning. One is a fun game called Two Truths and One Lie, which we piloted with students, challenging them to not only guess the truth from lies, but to find evidence to support their claim

Another involved hosting a workshop on organizing personal historic artifacts. It was attended by a few academics, but also several life-long learners from the greater Philadelphia community who are looking for ways to tackle how to preserve and share their family histories.  

We were particularly excited that our membership in the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM) bore fruit—scholars from Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania have opted to visit and use at least one of Drexel’s several archives for their research, with support from the Consortia’s Fellowship program.

We always welcome ideas for how best to make known our role to inspire—and enable—the quest for life-long learning through a variety of ways to master and sharpen information savvy skills. I hope you will enjoy reading about just a few of our latest projects in this June newsletter.

Danuta A. Nitecki, PhD
Dean of Libraries