Tag Archives: information literacy

Fun with Information Literacy Games at Your Library

LOTRAt the NDLA conference in September, I attended a session called “Make Learning Fun: Simple Information Literacy Game for All Ages” presented by Julie Reitan, the director at the Minot Air Force Base Library. I was so impressed with Julie’s presentation that I asked if she would be willing to write a guest post for our blog. She graciously provided this overview. I hope you will be as inspired by her ideas as I was!

Information literacy games are a fun, hands-on way to teach library skills or to end an information literacy session and can be more interesting and more educational than a basic scavenger hunt. At the Minot Air Force Base Library, we have provided twelve information literacy games for a variety of age groups over the last three years either as a stand-alone program or a part of a larger program. We’ve learned a lot in the process and developed a basic strategy that can be used in just about any type of library. Continue reading

Ready-Made Computer Courses for Library Patrons (and Staff!)

Carousel of LearningExpress Library modules with Computer Skills at the fore

Anytime you’re providing the public service of free and open access to internet-connected computers, it’s important to also provide training on their use. This can be particularly challenging for small and rural libraries, where extra staff may not be available to provide tutelage to patrons, or in circumstances where the library staff members or volunteers aren’t comfortable enough with the technology to feel they can provide meaningful assistance. In this post, I’ll provide an overview of LearningExpress Library’s Computer Skills Center, a resource that both patrons and staff can use to develop their computer skills.

Access to LearningExpress is funded for all libraries in North Dakota by the North Dakota State Library. Patrons can also access it from home, though probably not until they’ve mastered the basics at one of your public access computers. You can find LearningExpress on our databases page or use this direct link to connect to it from your library’s website. Continue reading


A prairie dog standing at attention

WebQuests are an inquiry-based approach to learning that pairs activities with a meaningful task and the creation of a product. They typically build from Internet information to the creation of a real world outcome, such as a flyer, a video, a meal, or a pictorial journal like in the example below. Creating (or linking to) WebQuests is a great way to engage children and teens in developing their 21st Century Skills even if they aren’t making it into your physical building.

As an example, this Theodore Roosevelt National Park WebQuest prepares teens to visit the badlands by challenging them to learn about the park’s history and its inhabitants. Continue reading

Information Literacy Standards

InfoLiteracyIn a nutshell, here are the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education formulated by the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), which is a division of the American Library Association:

Standard One

The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.

Standard Two

The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.

Standard Three

The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.

Standard Four

The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.

Standard Five

The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.

The complete exposition of the standards are at the ACRL website.

“To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it.” – Charlie Chaplin



LibTech 2014 Conference Experience Overview

libTech2014It was recently my pleasure and privilege to attend the 2014 Library Technology Conference at Macalester College (otherwise known as LibTech). I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my experiences from and  impressions of this always wonderful event.


There were two keynote presentations during the conference, one by Mita Williams and one by Barbara Fister. Mita Williams spoke on ways libraries are embracing writers circles and local musicians to both create new works at the library and to build local digital collections. She also spoke of ways libraries can make use of affordable, readily available technologies to do things that might have previously seemed unobtainable, like virtualizing servers through Amazon’s EC2 web service. Barbara Fister spoke about her work in the burgeoning movement towards open publishing by academics, allowing their work to reach 500 times the readership at a tenth of the cost. You can watch archived video of both profound and inspirational keynotes here. Continue reading

Locking Down Online Accounts – Part Three

lockThis post covers two simple things you can do to safeguard your accounts and privacy, and even save yourself some time in the process. The first is how to check which parties have authorized access to your social and email accounts, and how to revoke those you don’t need (you may be surprised by the sheer volume of these). The second is how to use disposable email addresses to avoid newsletter spam and unnecessary account enrollments.

Checking 3rd Party Permissions

If you’ve ever used one account to sign into another service (using OAuth) or tethered an app to a social media account, you’ve authorized a 3rd party to access one of your email or social media accounts. This potentially allows them to harvest personal data and make posts as though they were you (to advertise or otherwise maliciously exploit the trust of your contacts). Continue reading

Locking Down Online Accounts – Part Two

lockLast week I wrote about increasing the security of select online accounts by turning on two-factor verification with those services that offer the option. This week I want to walk you through using a password manager to further enhance the sanctity of all of your online accounts. Password managers help you do all kinds of important things: generate long, complex, random passwords meeting any criteria (length, allowed characters, etc.); use unique passwords for every site (this safeguards your other accounts in the event that one of your accounts is compromised); remind you to change your passwords regularly for all accounts; expedite the log-in process; track all your accounts in one convenient location; and all you have to do is remember one master password.While it takes a little work to set up, it will save you tons of effort and heartache in the long run.

The following is a walkthrough of how to setup KeePass and use it to manage your online accounts. There are a few very sound password managers out there, but I like KeePass for the following reasons: it’s totally free, it’s open source, it’s extraordinarily secure, it’s flexible and easy to use, and it’s available on every pertinent platform that matters to me (Windows, Android, Linux, iOS, Mac OS X, etc.) Want to know more? Check out their features page. Continue reading

Locking Down Online Accounts – Part One

lockWe all have online accounts: email, social media, blogging, media streaming, shopping, banking, library, etc., etc. We also know that the passwords most people choose do a rather poor job of locking them down (too short, too simple, too predictable, too re-used). Today I’d like to walk you through three easy ways you can make your online accounts more secure.

This might seem like a bit of an odd topic for this blog, but I think it’s an important one for librarians to have a grasp on, and I think it would make excellent fodder for adult programming as part of any computer literacy or online safety course. It’s also been much on my mind as a 3rd party app recently briefly compromised my Twitter account. I took several steps to bolster that and several other accounts I’d been a bit lax on locking down. Here’s the first post in a series on how you can better secure your own accounts. Continue reading

What is news literacy? Why is it important?

“News literacy is the acquisition of 21st-century, critical-thinking skills for analyzing and judging the reliability of news and information, differentiating among facts, opinions and assertions in the media we consume, create and distribute. It can be taught most effectively in cross-curricular, inquiry-based formats at all grade levels. It is a necessary component for literacy in contemporary society.”

[From the Radio Television News Directors Foundation]

Students are bombarded by news in many formats — print media, broadcast media, Internet media, and social media. The volume, velocity, and variety of information is growing exponentially. News literacy skills are essential to distinguish between fact and opinion in this ocean of data. Students must be able to determine bias or the agenda of the writer. Reading out of their comfort zone will help students see other points of view, and be more tolerant and less emotional when discussing issues. In a democratic society, informed decision-making requires that students develop news literacy skills.


There are several online sources to help us check the validity of news stories. Here are two: FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit site that monitors major U.S. political players. Its goal is to “apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.” PolitiFact.com, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009, basically checks the facts of anyone speaking about American politics. The most outrageously false statements get the “Pants on Fire” designation.


Teaching news literacy skills enables us to analyze, evaluate, compare, and critically think about the information we receive before we accept it.

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”   –Yogi Berra

WikiMedia Foundation is Rated Four Stars


The Wikimedia Foundation was given the highest rating (4 stars) by Charity Navigator, America’s leading independent charity evaluator of nonprofit organizations. The ratings are based on the organization’s financial health and accountability and the transparency of operations.

Wikimedia is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the global distribution of free information in many languages. The most popular Wikimedia resource is Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia. Other resources include: wikibooks (free textbooks and manuals), wikiversity (free learning tools), and wikivoyage (free travel guides). Wikimedia does not sell ad space; instead, it is funded primarily by donations from individuals all over the globe.

My duties as a trainer at the ND State Library include going into the classroom and talking to students and teachers about the many online educational resources provided by the state to encourage learning. The subscription databases contain credible information that is cited in several formats like MLA or APA. The need for students to evaluation information found in the databases is minimal.

Teachers and librarians have strong views about Wikipedia as an educational resource, both pro and con. Probably most college professors will not accept Wikipedia as a bibliographical reference. However, Wikipedia can be a starting point that leads to credible information.

Evaluating information (an information literacy skill) is essential when using Wikipedia. Learning how to judge information is a necessary skill when navigating the Internet or picking out bias in news sources. Yes, you have to evaluate information found at Wikipedia, but every time you do, you hone your information literacy and critical thinking skills.

“Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.” –Kurt Vonnegut, author