Friday, October 21, 2011

Information Literacy Empowers

(Note: For the rest of October 2011, National Information Literacy Awareness Month, Armacost Library blog will showcase guest and regular writers. They were all asked to respond to the question "What does information literacy mean to me?")
Several months ago, my doctor informed me that I’d need surgery. Since I was in good health and circumstances weren’t dire, I was shocked to hear that it’d take six weeks for my body to heal and that I’d not be allowed to work during this time.

I was given a brochure explaining the procedure, but it left me with many unanswered questions ranging from the vain--How will the scar look?—to the dire—What are the risks?—to the practical—How will I lift myself out of bed? I soon learned to fire off a list of questions whenever my doctor would pause long enough to talk. In between these regularly-scheduled visits, I learned what I could in order to make the most of these rapid-fire exchanges.

I chose to use tools like Medline Plus which takes information from the largest medical library in the world, the National Library of Medicine, and explains medical terms and conditions in ways average people can understand. I also evaluated posts from online discussion forums and blogs for relevance and credibility so that I might learn from people’s personal experiences. When I wanted the latest medical research, I searched in PubMed since it has over 21 million citations taken from scholarly biomedical literature. And when full-text wasn’t freely available on the Web, I didn’t let that stop me. Knowing my options as a member of this University, I used Citation Finder to search the University’s collections, and have used interlibrary loan when I needed full-text from other libraries.

As an information literate, I empower myself by learning what I need to ask, where to find information, and how to leverage resources to get answers to my questions.

--Paige Mann, Visiting Assistant Librarian


Shana Higgins said...

Nice! Thanks for the excellent concrete example of information literacy--recognizing you need additional information, knowing where to look for it, and determining relevant search strategies.

Paige Mann said...

Thanks Shana! People never know what life has in store for them, and I'd like to think that their ability to inform themselves will help weather any storms on the horizon.

dentlib said...

Well said! As a medical librarian, health information literacy is an area I really enjoy. Your example was spot on & brought a personal element. UR students looking for health/medical information-you are welcome to visit us at LLU, Del Webb Library-we are this area's NN/LM resource library. Be sure to bring your UofR ID & IEALC card

Paige Mann said...

How very thoughtful dentlib! I love that you're encouraging UR students to take advantage of IEALC resources. Thank you and I hope students will take you up on your personal invitation.