Information Literacy Training for All?: The Outliers by ProQuest


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            Training for
             The Outliers
                          he Information Literacy Initiative at the University of Washington
                          Information School is a funded, active organization that began in
                          2007 after the successful training of a group of youth labeled
                 “at-risk.” In the course of thinking about providing this kind of training,
                 I came across bq’s editorial in the September 2008 issue of Searcher
                 magazine in which she discusses the concept of “outliers.” At that time
                 I had just started another information literacy class for women without
                 homes at The Gathering Place, a day shelter for homeless women in Den-
                 ver, Colo. I wanted to define the population I was working with and the
                 term outliers stuck and helped me focus on the population the Informa-
                 tion Literacy Initiative currently serves.
                     In this article, the term outlier refers to people at the end of the
                 curve for receiving information literacy instruction who are getting little or none. These
                 individuals do not fall into specific race, class, age, gender, or other demographic
                 categories. They are individuals who did/do not receive training in K–12, college
                 classes, or formal information and technology education services and need additional
                 training. They can be older or middle-aged individuals whose school or training just
                 didn’t include information literacy. They can be youth whose school system did not
                 address the challenge of building information literacy. They can be businesspeople
                 starting or running a business, retired adults, or people without a home of their own.
                 These groups and more have landed on the outside of information literacy training and
                 need help.

            18   SEARCHER ■ The Magazine for Database Professionals

                             by Lark Birdsong
                             Birdsong Research            September 2009   19
     Information Literacy Training for All

THE BEGINNING                                                                  School in the latter part of 2008, and I started down the
                                                                               fundraising path.
    In 2007, I started a research program in an after school training
program with 6th grade youth who were labeled “at-risk.” Using the             Who Are the Outliers?
Big6 process by Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz, the students                     The Initiative has grown from the Research Rocks youth
named their program Research Rocks, where the students picked                  group to include women without homes, entrepreneurs/busi-
their topic and identified their questions in a five session research          ness owners, adults older than 50, and individuals looking for
project, which I taught. Using the library and other sources, stu-             employment. We aim to provide information literacy training to
dents formulated the questions, gathered information, analyzed                 aid them in finding and using the information that is required
and cited results, and, at the end, concluded and presented their              to efficiently and effectively meet their goals and needs. These
final project results. Participation was voluntary, and of the 12 who          individuals are reached in larger numbers through various non-
started, 11 remained and created skillful research projects. This was          profit organizations. None of the train
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