Monday, March 13, 2006

Information Ethics and the Digital Divide: An electronic pathfinder for public librarians

Title: Information Literacy and the Digital Divide

Scope: The e-pathfinder will be directed toward public librarians and focus on the topic of information literacy and how it affects the digital divide. Resources that provide an overview and history of the topic will be provided as well as resources that look at current projects to improve the situation. A majority of the literature and resources found on information literacy apply to the educational setting but they were included if they could be applied to the public library setting. Hopefully through some of the information found in this pathfinder information professionals will be able to increase information literacy and decrease the digital divide in their service communities.

Subject Headings: information literacy; digital divide

Information Literacy – Electronic Resources:

ACRL Institute for Information Literacy
ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) Institute for Information Literacy is an organization that focuses on educating and informing librarians about information literacy and providing programs to improve the situation. The site includes a lot of historical information and well as research and programs for librarians. Although this site is aimed at academic libraries its information is applicable to the public library.

Directory of Online Resources for Information Literacy (DORIL)
The directory is intended to serve as a list of World Wide Web resources for librarians and other educators that relate to information literacy. The site contains sites that focus on assessment, definitions, standards, and programs for different situations. The site was last updated in 2002 and some of the links are no longer accurate but otherwise is a great starting point to find a lot of information on information literacy.

IFLANET’s Information Literacy Section (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions)
This is an international online community that focuses on information literacy around the world. The site has existed in its current format since 2002 and through the site you can gain access to publications, annual reports (2003-2005), minutes (2002-2005), and newsletters (2003-2005). The community is currently working on a database that will provide access to information literacy material from international sources. Also the site provides all the necessary information for joining the community.

Information Literacy at FIU (Florida International Libraries University)
This describes the information literacy program and FIU and offers additional online resources. This program can be used as a model for programs in other libraries and they also offer workshops to educate other librarians about their system.

Information Literacy: Community Partnerships Toolkit
This site provides a toolkit for a community partnership between academic libraries, public libraries, school libraries, and special libraries to improve information literacy. The toolkit is part of the ACRL Institute for Information Literacy and explains the benefits of partnerships as well as actual steps that can be taken.

Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education
These are standards that were created at the American Library Association’s midwinter meeting on January 18, 2000. They define information literacy and discuss how it relates to information technology and higher educations. Also the standards provide instructional tools and methods for assessment. These standards help to create a foundation for information literacy programs.

The Information Literacy Weblog
This Weblog which is written by Sheila Webber and Stuart Boon and focuses on information literacy issues worldwide. The blog was started in September of 2005 and is frequently added to. This is a great blog to stay current on new issues in the field of information literacy as well as learn about upcoming conferences and other events.

National Forum on Information Literacy
Started in 1989 as a result of a recommendation from ALA, the forum looks at the topic of information literacy and how to improve it and also looks at literacy’s effect on the digital divide. The site includes information on conferences, publications, and also provides a page of related sites.

Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report
This is a report on the position of ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) in regard to information literacy. It was written in 1989 and focuses on defining information literacy and explaining why it is important and requires attention. ACRL believes that libraries will need to play an active role in information literacy education so that progress can occur. The report also presents six recommendations on how to improve information literacy and a bibliography for further reading.

A Progress Report on Information Literacy: An Update on the American Library Association Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report
This is a progress report on the “Final Repot” that was presented in 1989. Almost ten years later in 1998 the report reexamines the six recommendations, the progress they have made, and suggestions for future progress. The report also makes five new recommendations on ways to improve information literacy.

University of Arizona: Information Literacy Team
This site describes the program at the University of Arizona and also includes helpful handouts and definitions. The site is aimed at Academic librarians but many of the tools they offer can be used in a public library setting.

Information Literacy - Periodicals/Journals:

SIMILE (Studies in Media and Information Literacy Education)
SIMILE is a quarterly journal published by the University of Toronto Press. The journal was established in 2001 and as of 2006 all the articles are available full-text on their web site. SIMILE “examines ways in which reference- and teacher-librarians, teachers, and other concerned professionals can integrate media literacy concepts into instructional sessions about how to use print and electronic mass media sources” (Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory).

Information Literacy - Print Resources:

1. DeCandido, G. A. (2001). Literacy and Libraries: Learning from case studies. American Library Association.

This book looks at individual cases of literacy and the library. Although the book does not focus entirely on information literacy the ideas in the book would be helpful in creating a foundation.

2. Riedling, A. M. (2002). Learning to learn: a guide to becoming information literate. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.

This book provides a step-by-step guide on how to improve information literacy by providing real tools. The book looks at all the stages of learning from choosing a topic to finding and analyzing resources. The age groups that this book is aimed at range from middle school age through college.

3. Snavely, L., & Cooper, N. (1997). The Information Literacy Debate. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 23(1), 9-14.

This article examines the meaning of information literacy and what role academic librarians have to play. It looks at what the organization should be doing to improve the problem. Although the article is written from the perspective of academic librarians the ideas and concepts discussed are applicable to public libraries.

Digital Divide – Electronic Resources:

Center to Bridge the Digital Divide
Sponsored by Washington State University this site is the home of the Center to Bridge the Digital Divide. The site explains the mission and goals of this organization and includes current research and progress as well as ways anyone can get involved. The center looks at both the digital divide within the United States and the global digital divide.

Digital Divide Network
This is an online community that focuses on learning about the digital divide and bridging that divide. There are various specialized learning communities as well as discussion boards, blogs, and access to articles.

Digital Divide.org
The site offers a model on how to close the digital divide and also looks to the future towards a “second digital revolution.” It provides background information on the digital divide as well as explaining truths and myths associated with the issue.

Digital Divide Project
This is an online resource created for use in elementary and secondary level schools. The focus is to educate children about the digital divide and to include them in international discussions on the topic. Also in the future the site is planning on having a streaming video webcast of students discussing the divide. This site would be useful in a public library’s children’s department.

A Nation Online: Entering the Broadband Age
A report from the United State’s Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration from 2004 that examines the use of computers, the Internet, and other information technology tools that are used by the American people. This report provides statistical data that illustrates the digital divide.

Digital Divide - Online Tutorials:

Penrose Library Information Literacy Tutorial
This is an online tutorial created for the University of Denver Penrose Library. The tutorial is a series of slides that define information literacy and walk you through the research process. The tutorial examines task definition, information-seeking strategies, access, use of information, and how to combine al the information so that it is usable. Even though the tutorial is designed for use in an academic library the topics are broad enough that they can be applied to a public library setting.

TILT (Texas Information Literacy Tutorial)
This is an interactive multimedia tutorial on information literacy that was created for use in Texas undergraduate universities. The tutorial is different because of the interactivity that it offers and because of the media used to present the information. Instead of providing a series of slides the tutorial uses and sound and movement as well to appeal to more students. Another great aspect of this tutorial is that the software is free to other libraries who would like to adapt the tutorial to fit their organization’s needs.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Blog 5 - Information Professional and Public Policy Issues

Part 1: The Role of the Professional

Information literacy and its effect on the digital divide is an aspect of information ethics that can be influenced and improved by those in the library profession. According to Elrod and Smith (2005) “information ethics provides a framework for critical reflection on the creation, control, and use of information” (pg. 1004). The five guidelines that help to create this framework are access, ownership, privacy, security, and community (Elrod and Smith, 2005, 1006). If these themes are analyzed and applied to the public library environment of information literacy then the problem can be improved and the digital divide can be minimized.

A public library can help improve the issue of access by providing computers and instruction for all patrons in the community. It is not enough to simply provide the technology if the patrons do not know how to effectively use it. In an academic library there are information literacy programs offered to help train students to effectively use the technology that is offered to them. Similar services should be available in the public library sphere to members of the general community. Through access patrons will be able to learn and deal with issues of ownership, security, and privacy. Classes can be offered and information can be spread that will help clarify these issues to the public. Finally the community theme can be fostered by encouraging members of the community to interact and contribute to the world that is evolving around them. Elrod and Smith (2005) state “future creative work builds on past creative work” (pg. 1006). Through the effective teaching of information literacy patrons will be able to see the past work so that they can participate in the creation of future work.

The role of the public librarian in information literacy and the minimization of the digital divide is one of instructor and supporter. The librarian’s first goal is to inform the public about information literacy. Before I entered school to complete my library science degree I was not even aware of the concept of information literacy. Librarians are already a part of the community and they should use that position to educate others about the issue of information literacy and the effect it has on the digital divide. Once this information has been spread they can then take the role of a teacher and offer classes on how to improve information literacy. Classes are free of charge and open to the public which supports the theme of access. Finally the librarian should be a supporter. It is frustrating to learn a new skill and the librarian should be available to ensure that the newly learned information is used effectively and that they continue to exercise and improve their skills. If the librarian acts as an educator and supporter in the community then more people will have effective access to new information available and this is minimize the digital divide.

Part 2: The Role of Associations

On a larger scale the associations can also help affect the issue of information literacy and the digital divide. ALA, for instance, strongly supports the concept of equal access. According to ALA, “All information resources that are provided directly or indirectly by the library, regardless of technology, format, or methods of delivery, should be readily, equally, and equitably accessible to all library users” (ALA Core Values, para. 5). Because of the position that ALA has taken on equal access it is possible for each library to focus on and support issues of equality. Also because of the size and strength of an association such as ALA they can make issues known to a much larger population and educate those in public office as to the issues that are affecting the public. In his article, “Information Technology and Technologies of the Self,” Capurro (1996) states, “it is through institutions as well as through moral and legal codes that we can ensure the right to access and to work for more equitable distribution in order to bridge the information gap between the ‘information poor’ and the ‘information rich’” (Information Technology as an Ethical Challenge section, para. 3).

I feel that associations should take the position of educators in debates on public policy. They should inform both the public and those in political positions about the ethical issues and dilemmas that arise. I do not think that associations should take an active political role because it may become difficult to maintain a clear perspective as to the goal. The role of the library is to provide information to everyone and if the associations that support those libraries are focused on political work then their attention is not on directly supporting the members of the association. It is important that libraries and librarians do not spread themselves too thin so that they can still provide high quality service and instruction to everyone who wants to learn.


Sources:

American Library Association. (2004, June 29). Core Values Statement. Retrieved February 26, 2006, from ALA’s Core Value Statement.

Capurro, R. (1996). Information Technology and Technologies of the Self. Journal of Information Ethics, 5(2), 19-28. Also available at Information Technology and Technologies of the Self.

Elrod, E. M., & Smith, M. M. (2005). Information Ethics. In Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics (Vol. 2, pp. 1004-1011). Detroit: Macmillan Reference.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Professional Codes - An Evaluation of ALA's Code of Ethics

The American Library Association’s Code of Ethics has a foundation in deontology. According to this ethical theory, “morality must ultimately be grounded in the concept of duty, or obligations that humans have to one another, and never in the consequences of human actions” (Tavani, 2004, 48). It is a moral system based on “universality and impartiality” (Tavani, 2004, 49) which is directly reflected in the code of ethics. The first statement of the code explains that the members provide “the highest level of service to all library users” (ALA, 1995, para. 5). It does not place emphasis on giving service to one group over another to ensure greater happiness like utilitarianism would.

The code is addressed to members of the American Library Association, other members of the profession, and the public at large (ALA, 1995, para. 1). It is published publicly on the internet which makes it accessible to anyone with access to a computer. The ethical code does not include any enforcement policies but functions as a framework. It is not meant to “dictate conduct to cover particular situations” (ALA, 1995, para. 4). Even though the code does not include specific situations or events that should result in discipline it does clearly state what the objectives and expectations of the members are.

The code is a useful document to present the profession to a national or international audience because it describes and outlines the general goals and beliefs of the profession. It emphasizes ideals such as equal access and protection of intellectual rights. The beliefs of an organization or profession are what give it purpose and drive. The code of ethics details these beliefs to encourage and support people who are current working in the field.

There are several current public policies that are implied in the American Library Association’s code of ethics such as education and civil liberties. ALA is committed to providing equal access to all users and in supporting the rights of the patrons. The freedom of information and protection of patron privacy is a fact that members of the community look to in a library and it should be protected in the association.

If I were to update the code I do not think I would make any radical changes unless I were to completely rewrite it. The code is written as a framework outlining the general beliefs and goals of the American Library Association. It is not intended to function as a rule book or a guide for specific circumstances. Although there is no mention of electronic resources and how they should be treated it is assumed that they would receive the same treatment as the rest of the collection. Equal access will be an emphasis and privacy will be protected. The preamble to the code describes the purpose of the code clearly and it appropriately reflects the goals. According to Tavani (2004) the purpose of a professional code is to “motivate members of an association to behave in certain ways; they inspire, guide, educate, and discipline the members” (93). I believe the ALA code of ethics succeeds in the mission and is a positive representation of the beliefs of librarians and information professionals.

Sources:

American Library Association. (1995, June 28). Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. Retrieved February 10, 2006, from ALA’s Code of Ethics.

Tavani, H. T. (2004). Ethics and Technology: Ethical Issues in an Age of Information and Communication Technology. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Draft of E-Pathfinder

Title: Information Literacy and the Digital Divide

Scope: The e-pathfinder will be directed toward public librarians and focus on the topic of information literacy and how it affects the digital divide. Resources that provide an overview and history of the topic will be provided as well as resources that look at current projects to improve the situation. Hopefully through some of the information found in this pathfinder information professionals will be able to increase information literacy and decrease the digital divide in their service communities.

Subject Headings: information literacy; digital divide

Electronic Resources:

National Forum on Information Literacy
Started in 1989 as a result of a recommendation from ALA, the forum looks at the topic of information literacy and how to improve it and also looks at literacy’s effect on the digital divide.

Information Literacy at FIU (Florida International Libraries University)
This describes the information literacy program and FIU and offers additional online resources.

University of Arizona: Information Literacy Team
This site describes the program at the University of Arizona and also includes helpful handouts and definitions.

ACRL Institute for Information Literacy
The organization focuses on educating and informing librarians about information literacy and providing programs to improve the situation.

Digital Divide Network
This is an online community that focuses on learning about the digital divide and bridging that divide. There are various specialized learning communities as well as discussion boards, blogs, and access to articles.

Print Resource:

DeCandido, G. A. (2001). Literacy and Libraries: Learning from case studies. American Library Association.

This book looks at individual cases of literacy and the library. Although the book does not focus entirely on information literacy the ideas in the book would be helpful in creating a foundation.

Blog 3 - Just Consequentialism and the Potter Box

You are planning to make a job change in the next two years. Although you are happy enough with where you are working, you are now in school and expect to look for something better when you graduate. How can just consequentialism and the Potter Box inform your decision-making? Have you received time-off for tuition assistance from your workplace? When should you inform your employers that you are looking for other opportunities? What else should you consider?

I was excited when I read the above situation as an option to apply the Potter Box and just consequentialism because it is an issue that I am currently dealing with. The Potter Box is a method that allows the user to “analyze the ethical responsibilities of communicators in terms that are both practical and theoretically grounded” (Backus and Ferraris, 2004, 222). The Box consists of four areas of consideration that will help lead to a final decision. The four areas are “definition, values, principles, and loyalties” (Backus and Ferraris, 2004, 222) and by assessing each area individually and together I should be able to find an answer to my ethical situation. In conjunction with the Potter Box method I will also use James Moor’s (1999) theory of just consequentialism. In his theory Moor (1999) combines consequentialism and deontological theories to create a more unified approach. In his essay Moor (1999) states, “we want good computing policies that promote human flourishing, consequences are important, but only as long as the policies themselves remain just” (112). When these two concepts are combined and applied to the question of when I should tell my employers I am seeking employment I will be able to make an informed ethical decision.

Step 1:
The first step in the Potter Box method is to define the situation. Black (2003) defines this step as “look at it in detail, and from points of view other than your own” (slide 7). For my situation I have been working at my current job for the last 6 months. When I started working there I was already four months into my program and my employer is aware that I am attending school for library science. Because the job is for a coffee kiosk he knows I will not be around forever, but he does not know when I will officially be completed with the program or when I plan to leave. Some of this ambivalence is because I don’t necessarily know how long I will stay. I do not want to put a solid date down because I may not find a job by then or I may find a job before that date. Another factor that plays into the situation is that four people recently quit and the company is currently very short-staffed. On top of this problem my employer just had a baby and is having a hard time getting everything done.

Step 2:
The second step is defined by Black (2003) as “Identify the values- beliefs that define what you stand for” (slide 7). A believe one of the values that I treasure most is putting people first. Although this can be a negative trait as it sets me up to be taken advantage of it is also a strength that leads to strong loyalty. If I value putting people first then I must choose my priorities which will be a major part of step four. Also the value of honesty is important. I do not want to lead my employer on or give him the wrong impression.

Step 3:
According to Black (2003) step 3 is “identify the principles-don’t moralize or give inconsistent, dogmatic, ad hoc advice. Use moral philosophy instead, giving general, consistent advice drawn from the wisdom of the ages” (slide 7). This is where I will apply the concept of just consequentialism as described by James Moor (1999). Moor believes that consequences are an important part of ethics but that they must be balanced with a sense of justness. He recommends using an impartiality test to determine if the situation is just. This removes bias and allows one to look at the situation more objectively. For my situation I realize that I would want to be aware of the situation with my employees. If I had just lost a large group of workers I would want to be prepared for the fact that another one might be leaving. Even though it might cause initial stress it would be a better situation in the long run.

Step 4:
Black (2003) defines this step as “choose you loyalties – to whom are you ultimately loyal, and to whom at intermediate steps are you loyal? Who gets hurt? Who benefits?” (slide 7). In this situation I must place a priority on who I am most loyal to. In honesty I must place myself and my family first and my current employer second. Even though they have been good employers I cannot sacrifice my own happiness to meet theirs.

After using just consequentialism and the Potter Box approach I have come to the conclusion that I should have an open dialogue with my employer about where I stand in regard to looking for future employment. I should keep them informed as to when I think I will leave so that they will have as much notice as possible. If I follow this action and they do not respond in the way I anticipate then I will have to return to the Potter Box and Moor’s theory and repeat the process. I will end by repeating Moor’s (1999) advise, “Midcourse adjustments in computing policy are necessary and proper and should be expected” (113). The world is constantly changing and so must the way we operate in it.

Lindsey Kemp

Sources:

Backus, N., & Ferraris, C. (2004). Theory Meets Practice: Using the Potter Box to Teach
Business Communication Ethics. Proceeding of the 2004 Association for Business Communication Annual Convention (pp. 222-229).

Black, J. (2003, March). Ethical Decision-Making Models across the Profession.

Moor, J. H. (1999). Just Consequentialism and Computing. In R. A. Spinello & H. T.
Tavani (Eds.), Readings in Cyberethics (2nd ed., pp. 107-113). Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Blog 2 - Technologies of the Self

What moral systems and values have influenced you and your decision to pursue a degree and enter the information professions?

During my life-time in my experience there have been no major introductions of a new technology but rather the refining and expanding of previous technologies. When looking back on my life and the ict’s and moral systems and values that have affected my life and ultimately my career choice I see a strong pattern and progression. I never suddenly had a life changing moment but rather a slow steady incline that has led me to where I am today.

As far back as I can remember the computer has always been a major part of my life. My mother worked from home so we have had the internet, as slow as it was, throughout my memory. In elementary school I did not use the internet in any way but did write most of my papers using a word processor. I did have a typewriter but I only used it as a way to pretend I lived in another time or place. This form of technology was an escape rather than a useful tool. When I entered middle school in 1993 I was allowed my own screen name on AOL. All of my friends had instant messenger and my afternoons would be spend chatting with friends who lived close by. I did not use the internet for any research purposes and thought that its only purpose was to make communication easier between me and my friends. The first time I used the computer for research purposes was around 1997 when I was a freshman in high school. I had to write a paper on Queen Mary of England and had to use one internet source. I thought the requirement was silly at the time because I had all the necessary information from the books I had borrowed from the library. By the time I was a senior I was comfortable using Yahoo but had never had any experience with database searching.

My undergraduate showed a large change in the way I used the computer. The first two years I used my normal research habits but for my senior thesis my professor required us to research and find a lot of articles using databases like ERIC. After this I realized the huge amount of reliable information that could be found on the WEB. Before this I had discredited the computer as an accurate place to search for information. Since this experience in 2003 I have tried to increase my knowledge of the tools the internet can offer and to share those tools with my friends and family. I had come to take for granted what could be easily found on the internet until I went to visit my Grandma. She has a computer with internet access but has never learned how to sign on. When I was visiting her last year she was researching Chinese history for a talk she was giving in her political science group. She was frustrated at her lack of information so I found some data for her on the internet and she was astonished. Since then she now uses e-mail and minor searching as well. It was during this trip that I realized a career as an information professional was meant for me. I loved showing her new ways to find information and helping her to meet that need for information.

During this experience with my Grandma I realized that there were a lot of people that did not have access to or the knowledge to benefit from the technologies that I have taken for granted my entire life. The digital divide is something that I would like to help build a bridge for. The moral value that I follow the most is the desire to minimize this divide and create a more equal and level arena for information. Information should not be limited to one group or area, it should be shared by all so that it can progress and have a positive influence. After reading Winner (1986) I agree that the computer fits into the first instance where “specific features in the design or arrangement of a device or system could provide a convenient means of establishing patterns of power and authority in a given setting”. The computer can be a positive equalizer if it is used properly and it shared by all.


Source:

Winner, L. (1986). Do Artifacts have Politics? The whale and the reactor: a search for
limits in an age of high technology (pp. 19-39). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Practice Post

This is a practice post to see how the blog works and to see if I can edit the information I add.