Ok, not a bar, more like an information literacy class.

I thought I’d bring to everyone’s attention a presentation by two of my York University Libraries colleaques, web librarian William Denton and instruction librarian Adam Taves.

It was at Access in Winnipeg a week or so ago:

After Launching Search and Discovery, Who Is Mission Control?

Reference librarians are whiny and demanding.

Systems librarians are arrogant and rude.

Users are clueless and uninformed.

A new discovery layer means that they need to collaborate to build it and then — the next step — integrate it into teaching and learning. How should we (reference librarians, systems people, and users) work together to better exploit the possibilities of open source systems so we can focus on discovery and understanding instead of the mechanics of searching?

Bill and Adam basically wrote up their presentation as a play featuring “themselves” and did a dramatic reading of said play in front of the conference audience.

I’ve read the script but haven’t had a chance to get into the audio or video yet.

It’s both informative and amusing and best of all, amusingly informative. It definitely dramatizes the techy/instruction divide within the librarian community as well as the the techy vs. “humanist” divide within the culture as a whole.

There’s lots of food for thought and a bunch of great laughs too.

An semi-random excerpt from the script:

[ACT 3: Information literacy]

Adam: Well, yes and no. I still need to be able to use sophisticated search techniques. If I wanted Google, I’d just use Google. But getting back to your average undergrad. They need to understand things like who wrote the book – what makes that person qualified to speak on the topic. Who published the book – is it –

Bill: Yeah, but that’s really some bullshit, isn’t it? I mean, come on. These loftier IL goals, isn’t that all just basically stuff from a grade ten media studies course, with a bit of Neil Postman thrown in?

Adam: They had media studies back when you were in grade 10? I didn’t want to make things too confusing for you. Getting back to “disciplinary discourse” – how do people in a particular subject area talk to one another?

Bill: I guess –
[Bill continues trying to interrupt]

Adam: How is publishing in high energy physics different than, say, publishing in ancient Greek history? How do psychologists communicate their research to the academic community? Or, and we hear this one all the time, why can’t we just digitize all the damn books in the library and be done it with?

Bill: Well, that’s because of copyright and intellectual property issues and –

Adam: Exactly. IL Standard 5, Performance Indicator 1, Section d. Wouldn’t it be interesting if, when we linked to full-text, there was some little clue as to the conditions of access. Like – “No copyright”, or “licensed access secured”. Then the catalogue is directly supporting an IL competency. Or another issue, how do you learn from your mistakes? A particular approach is not working well, but may tell you something about how to improve it and how to look for information about a certain –

Bill: Well, I do that all the time. It’s basic to systems development and programming when you’re debugg–

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