Statistical literacy: an important part of information literacy

The mass media often misuse statistics when they report about such subjects as health, science, education, and the economy. Media outlets seem to be more concerned with pushing agendas than accurate reporting. Even if there is no agenda, emotionally vivid language in headlines and teasers create and maintain interest in the story. I’m not writing media criticism, though. This post is as much about research and any of my others.  Not many Americans know much about statistics. And journalists have no more training in statistics than most of the rest of us. Badly understood and misused statistics also influence public … Continue reading

Encouraging college students to use the library

Classes have started at colleges and universities. Some time at the beginning of every term, academic librarians conduct tours of the library and visit classes to offer library instruction. Or perhaps meet them in the library’s own classrooms. What are they trying to accomplish? What happens when they don’t get through to students? The results can be comical. They also help perpetuate a cycle of ignorance. After all, some students who never catch on graduate anyway. And some of them wind up teaching somewhere. … Continue reading

Information literacy: an endangered species?

I heard on NPR recently that CNN is losing market share in the US because viewers prefer the “more opinionated” coverage of Fox News and MSNBC. That’s sad. I say that not as a fan of CNN–I don’t regularly watch any of those networks. I say it’s sad because people who prefer to hear only what conforms to their own viewpoint have essentially decided not to be informed citizens. They have consciously and deliberately turned their back on information literacy. The term “information literacy” seems to have originated in the mid 1970s, but the need it expresses is much older. … Continue reading

Libraries vs the digital divide

Railroad tracks used to divide some communities into the right side and the wrong side. People on the wrong side of the tracks lacked both social standing and the resources to better themselves. The term “digital divide” similarly refers to those who have access to the Internet and those who don’t. Libraries, and especially public libraries, are at the forefront of attempts to bridge the digital divide. What is the digital divide? What constituted the digital divide changes over time. When the general public first began to acquire computers at home, poor people and minorities were less likely to have … Continue reading

Hackerspaces and libraries

[ad name=”Google Adsense 728×90″] I originally understood the term “hacker” to mean someone who broke into computer systems with criminal or mischievous intent. For better or for worse, it seems to have broadened to include anyone who develops a detailed grasp of the inner workings of computer systems and networks. By this definition, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the teams of people who devised the public Internet have been leading hackers. Hackerspace, then, is place where the non-criminal varieties of hackers meet to collaborate on projects, to learn from each other, or just hang out with likeminded people. What better … Continue reading