OLJ M5:The challenge of finding authentic information in a socially networked world

Garfinkel, S. (2008). Wikipedia and the meaning of truth. Technology Review, 111 (6), 84-86.

Lorenzo, G. (2007). Catalysts for change: Information fluency, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the new education culture

Wittenberg, K. (2007). Credibility of content and the future of research, learning, and publishing in the digital environment. The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 10 (1).

1. Academic librarians face an ongoing challenge in educating undergraduates about the perceived authority of Wikipedia and directing them to the libraries resources. Digital Natives are entering Higher Education having grown up with the ubiquitous Wikipedia. As a librarian I feel that Wikipedia offers a good starting point for a topic (I use it myself) but in terms of authorship, validity and credibility it still remains a dubious source (received truth) and should not be cited in an assignment.

Some libraries are addressing the challenge. Whilst at RMIT I assisted in an information literacy session dedicated to evaluating online resources including Wikipedia. But this was just one session for about 25 students, which was run twice a year. The same information was posted on a Libguide but how many people read those let alone find the information they require? To reach a wider audience the library needs to be more proactive in trying to embed library skills into the curriculum. Self-paced online learning through interactive modules on library websites (or accessed via Facebook, LMS etc.) can prove an effective means of educating students but these need to be promoted more effectively.

Libraries are trying to keep up and seem to be effective over time (Kennedy & Judd 2010) but more is needed. (I wanted to include this paper as the author discussed his findings at a CRIG conference I attended last year.)

Judd, T.S & Kennedy G.E. (in press). Expediency-based practice? Medical students’ reliance on Google and Wikipedia for biomedical inquiries. British Journal of Educational Technology. Available online 12 January, 2010.

2. Librarians need to adapt and embrace Library 2.0 otherwise we face being sidelined. Adoption of Library 2.0 is required to meet the Digital Natives in their own space and allow librarians to effectively direct students to the resources that the library holds. Much has already been done, albeit slowly. For example the University of Melbourne’s library is moving to a new search interface, Ebsco’s Discovery, mimicking the one search box prompted by Google’s success. Facebook pages; Twitter; links within LMS; Libguides have all had some success although I would argue that Libguides are under-utilised. Based on the reaction of some of the librarians I work with change is bad. The book collection is everything. They are right to a certain extent but the majority of our patrons access information differently. Stuffy orientation sessions based around static powerpoint presentations do not create a great first impression of the library.

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