December 9, 2004

Information Literacy Standards for Science and Technology (DRAFT)

:: The ALA/ACRL/STS Task Force on Information Literacy for Science and Technology has made available the draft of Information Literacy Standards for Science and Technology:

Based on the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, five standards and twenty-six performance indicators were developed. Each performance indicator is accompanied by one or more outcomes for assessing the progress toward information literacy of students of science and engineering or technology at all levels of higher education.

This document is intended to be a living document with future opportunities for input from the community and is published here for broad professional review of this initial version.

Virginia Baldwin, Task Force Chair, welcomes any feedback you may have: vbaldwin AT

August 11, 2004

Use of Blogs in Instruction and Student-Recommended Web Resources Guide(s)

:: Gerry McKiernan, Science and Technology Librarian and Bibliographer for Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University Library, is looking for instructional activities which make use of blogs, as well as web resource guide featuring student-recommended resources. In a recent cross-posted e-mail, he writes:

The coming Fall semester, I will be collaborating with a faculty member for a Semester Project assignment. For the project, several groups of ten students (or so) from a graduate class and an undergraduate class in different mechanical engineering courses, will be required to address and propose reasonable solutions for a real world issue.

In addition to a WebCT component for reach class, I've proposed the use of a Blog to facilitate communication and documentation among the various project participants, as the two classes will not formally meet.

In addition to a proposed Blog, I am considering the creation of a Web Guide of relevant Web resources that have been identified and recommended by the *students* (not The Librarian (Me) {:-)).

The philosophy of this approach is that as part of their training in proposing solutions to areal-world problem, students should Think Creatively and Think Critically about The Issue at Hand. Within this framework, the role of the Librarian and Instructor is to provide guidance to the students in assessing the quality/credibility/authenticity (not to prepare The Compilation of The Ten Sites).

I' d very much appreciate learning of Any and All instructional activities that have employed Blogs in information literacy initiatives in engineering/science/technology (or other disciplines)


I would also appreciate learning of examples of Student-Recommended Web Resource Guides that have been Aided and Abetted by librarians, but not Controlled primarily by The Librarian {;-)

Thanks in Advance!

Gerry McKiernan
Science and Technology Librarian and Bibliographer for Mechanical Engineering Iowa State University Library Ames IA 50011
gerrymck AT iastate DOT edu

I have thought about embedding blogs into individual courses, and am aware of at least one professor, a good friend who teaches at U Lethbridge, who uses blogs in his classes. Last year, I began suggesting to students in some of the fourth-year engineering design courses that they consider using blogs as a means of communication between design group members. In other words, pure project management. This fall, in my library and research skills instruction sessions, I will be encouraging the students to use blogs from the outset to manage their design projects, thus reducing the number of phone calls, e-mails, text messaging, and other means of communication, as they work in teams on their capstone design projects.

June 23, 2004

Thoughts on Mastering the Chemical Literature

Dana Roth posted the following on CHMINF-L yesterday, an excerpt from an interview with photochemisty Nick Turro, in which Turro talks about mastering the chemical literature. Turro's comments are timely and encouraging, and speak directly to the importance of information literacy.

You can never totally master the literature. But there are certain levels of mastery that are essential and are straightforwardly achievable by all students. In fact, there is a certain attitude that students should take with respect to the literature. Most students don't fully appreciate the importance of this attitude until they discover that somebody knows something that they themselves should have known and could have known if they had studied the literature properly.

The basic attitude required is that you should be familiar with enough of the literature so that you never unnecessarily repeat work published in the past and that you should be aware in broad strokes of what has been published in the past. Students need to be aware that when a paper is submitted for publication, a lack of knowledge of the literature leaves them open to the professional embarrassment that occurs when some knowledgeable referee cites data published in the past that supports (pleasant surprise), or undermines (awful surprise), or duplicates (unpleasant surprise) what you've reported, and says, "You really should have known about this work."

... Due to their dependence on the web, students don't seem to know how to use a library effectively any more. Rather than go to the library, they go to the web, and punch in a few key words. Something comes up or something doesn't come up. And to them, that's it. If it doesn't come up, it doesn't exist.

... I can accept that a starting student who gets into a new area, wants to get into the laboratory and splash around a little. But only up to a certain point, especially when the results are not working out. You know somebody made it work out in the past, then you've got to get into the literature and dig. Yet in some cases the student still doesn't stop and check the literature. It is fundamentally inexcusable and there is no way to condone such an attitude. It's what I will call fundamentally unprofessional behavior.

... Somebody spends an enormous amount of time writing a review or a book and sometimes their great reviews are not cited because nobody knows they exist. The only way you know it's there is to spend hours in the library looking though, say, Advances in Photochemistry or Organic Photochemistry and seeing what articles are there.

... Every Saturday, if I can, I go down to the library and go through about 40-50 journals by hand. I use a spreadsheet in a lab notebook to keep track of any article that I think is, or might be, of future interest, and I make brief notations about each article.

Excerpted from, "how to skate on the edge of the paradigm ... keep from falling off", an interview with Nicholas J. Turro (who received the ACS 2004 George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education). Nick is a Caltech graduate (1963), who has been at Columbia since 1965.

The full interview is in The Spectrum (2004), 17(1), 4-9,34

- Dana L. Roth

May 13, 2004

Information Literacy in the Sciences Task Force

:: Virginia Baldwin is circulating the following e-mail on a number of listservs. It concerns scitech information literacy, and is worth a look:

The proposed Standards for Information Literacy for Science and Technology, developed by the STS Task Force on Information Literacy for Science and Technology, have been posted to the Task Force Web Site at

We want this document to describe information literacy in the sciences and technology as completely as possible. We seek the collective knowledge representative of the broad background and experiences of the STS membership. Please look through the proposed standards on the Web site and make comments and suggest additions relative to your discipline and experiences. There is a form on the Web site for you to submit your comments electronically or you can e-mail them to

We have given a deadline of May 25th for comments to be incorporated before their presentation at ALA Annual.

The proposed standards are annotated as follows:

1. Underlining denotes changes in wording from the original ACRL document.

2. References to quotes from standards documents and various articles are
indicated at the end of some standards, performance indicators and outcomes.

3. A file, QUOTES FROM REFERENCES USED IN THE PROPOSED STANDARDS, is linked from the main page of the task force and gives the sources or actual wording of most of the quotes.

Members of the Task Force look forward to your comments.

Virginia Baldwin (Ginny)
Chair, STS Task Force on Information Literacy for Science and Technology
Head, Engineering Library
Patent and Trademark Depository Librarian
W204 Nebraska Hall
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0516
Email: vbaldwin2 AT