Adult User Education/Module 1
History of User Education, Information Literacy Defined, and an Introduction to the Adult User
In our first module we will be looking at the history of user education, how information literacy has come to be defined and who gave us that definition, and we will get a little bit of an introduction to the adult user.
History of User Education
Chapter 1 in your text gives a very basic overview of the history of information literacy in the academic library. The article by Salony gives basic coverage of the more general historical aspects of bibliographic/user instruction. We will also be reading the history of the ACRL Instruction Section, which will give a good idea of how one area of organized instruction became established. And, while the public library can be considered to have been conducting user education for quite some time, there is not a great amount of literature that discusses this particular aspect. The article by Crowley is a good example of how one public library has begun addressing this aspect of their services in a more direct manner.
Information Literacy Defined
ALA's Presidential Committee on Information Literacy presented their final report on the topic in 1989 which discussed the importance of having an information literate society and areas of opportunity in which these skills could be taught. The National Forum on Information Literacy was created in the same year as a response to ALA's recommendations. ACRL formalized a definition for information literacy, and then took the first steps to organize a variety of competency standards for higher education that an information literate user would be able to demonstrate. I have also included a video that gives a great presentation of how information literacy can be actively put into use.
The Adult User
The needs and characteristics of adult users are quite different from those of the young student user. The article by Ezzo and Perez gives an overview of the different skills and needs from academic library point of view, while the article by Veal discusses service to adult users in the public library.
Intents and Purposes
In discussing adult user education, I felt it would be a good idea to first look at the history of this particular service, review the changes that have taken us from bibliographic instruction to information literacy instruction, and get a first glimpse at who our users are. My purpose in this module is for us to get our bearings on the subject and more deeply explore our own ideas about what this service is and what it means to be information literate. I have tried to pick a variety of means through which these ideas can be researched and explored. I have also tried to create discussion questions that will cause us to think deeply and articulate our ideas about these topics by listening and discussing between ourselves in the class.
The assignment for this module will ask for you to basically pose as the adult user we are planning on helping. I hope that you will take time to look at this assignment through the eyes of the user. On the surface what you are being asked to do seems fairly easy, but as we will learn, many adult users bring feelings from past experiences into the library with them when they walk in the door or navigate to the online library site. One of the most important things we can do is learn to be sensitive to the possibilities of what our users are experiencing, so this assignment is really about putting yourself in their shoes and trying to empathize. Think about a time when you had a good experience with service and a time when you had a bad experience with service. This doesn't have to be at a library, it could be anywhere – the grocery store, an online help desk, etc. Consider what made your good experience good and what made your bad experience bad. Often, our bad experiences have to do with us needing help, not understanding how to do something, or not knowing where to get information. Adult user education is all about providing a service to our users, so I'm hoping that this exercise will give us some good ideas to share with each other on how to accomplish this goal.
The last thing we will do this module is to share our experiences and new ideas with each other on the Course Blog. The blog area is intended to be a more informal feeling space where we can reflect, share, and maybe laugh a little with each other! I know that each of you will have something important to share about your experiences throughout this module, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say and sharing my own experiences with you as well!