The Aspen Initiative discusses the benefits of information literacy for adults and a healthy democratic society, noting that " the need to address information literacy as a societal issue is strong and immediate." The report stresses that "a healthy democratic society requires literate citizenry to take advantage of educational opportunities, manage their finances, participate in government, secure jobs, manage health care and make choices that otherwise affect their lives." The world of...
LiveLinks Information Training for The Outliers T 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 Literacy All by Lark Birdsong Birdsong Research www.infotoday.com/searcher 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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