Information Relevancy and Literacy

Last week of school before the semester here. I love the fall semester, even though I’m no longer a student there something new and fresh about the start of a new school year. Maybe something like anything is possible? Maybe I’m just being a gigantic dork, but the energy around here is good this week.

The first month of fall semester is usually heaviest on the instruction side. New students means new people to introduce our resources to. I’m lucky enough to meet with some of our Veteran students in about 2 weeks to welcome them back to school and show them what the library offers and how to use our services. So that’s what I’m doing now. Grabbed a brochure, and throwing together an outline. I like to think that I wouldn’t need to prep for this stuff still, but there’s so much to say, and only an hour to say it so I have to plot my points so I don’t forget. And again, adult learners. Love it. I guess I like to feel helpful to them. I remember how horrible it was for me going back to grad school being out for only 4 years. I can’t image the anxiety that comes to some older learners who have to do things an entirely new way. There’s hope though, you just have to get over that fear. Sometimes we get scared of the outcome before we even try, which I think hinders a lot of people in a lot of ways. Sometimes just knowing HOW things work can help. A long time ago my less than computer savvy co-worker thought that I had just broken her computer because I pulled out the flash drive without going to the safe eject. She freaked out so hard. It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Once I explained it to her she calmed down a bit, and from that point on was able to understand the logic behind it all.

That’s the challenge of it sometimes, people often don’t take the time to understand how things work, wanting the result and not caring about the process. You can try explain keywords to people, truncation or Boolean operators. These are things that can vastly improve search results when used properly. But many are just used to typing things in sentence form, like a thought: Does coffee make people anxious? AKA in the form of a question not keywords. I’m not knocking Google or Google scholar, I use them all the time and appreciate them from both a personal and academic standpoint, but people don’t see the organization behind this vast “web” of information. How to browse controlled subjects, formulate keywords, how to broaden and narrow searches. I guess that’s why we go to school for it? That’s another reason why I get so annoyed when people talk about how librarians/libraries are obsolete .OK there’s the first obvious reason: not only are books are awesome, entertaining, and open doors to all kinds of new ideas, emotions and theories, literacy is important in forming active educated members of society that will make choices on personal and collectively global levels that will dictate the future of the entire human race. As the information game shifts even further from analog to digital who will help people find relevant and accurate information? I love the internet. I grew up surfing it on AOL, I remember when you needed a disc for it for god sakes. But you have to know how to navigate it, and how to analyze information. I helped somebody in the tech center the other day who was filing their financial aid through a site that was requesting payment, she was asking me about how to fill out this page. I was like…Wait my friend, you don’t have to PAY to file your FAFSA…. I told her to get out of that page and show me how she got there. From a Google search she put financial aid and this is what pops up:

Fin aid

Yes it is clearly marked “ad” but people don’t pay attention to such things, these sites have disclaimers that people don’t read, and this lady was prepared to spend $75 for some god knows who company to “help” her submit her FAFSA (which is a free service). Notice how the actual legitimate federal site for financial aid is below the 2 paid ads? Geez. I think another time a friend of mine was about to pay for her change of address online through what she thought was the post office, but it just turned out to be another company who assisted you with it and took your money for an otherwise free and easy service. They even clearly stated they had no affiliation with the USPS and that you can obtain this service for free on another site, but people don’t read things. Sigh. See now how legitimate sources and literacy are applicable in real life situations, not only academic research?

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