30 March 2010

LILAC2010: Keynote with Karen Fisher

Lay Information Mediary Behavior and Social Information Literacy
Dr. Karen E. Fisher
iSchool at Univ. of Washington

People helping other people find information.

National Digital Literacy Corp as part of the US National Broadband Plan: neighbors helping neighbors get on line. Young people will be trained in digital literacy.
QUESTION: Trained? Or will it assume that they are digitally literate? Hmm.
Opportunity for all: how the American public benefits
The point: we know that librarians are doing a great job but we keep telling each other, not those that need to be told (policy makers, decision makers) both nationally and locally.

Methodology for her research: nationwide phone survey, web survey, case studies
Over 50, 000 people about public access computing in libraries
Interesting factoid/sound bite: There are more libraries than McDonalds in the US.

Key Findings:
2/3 use libraries.
2/3 use library staff
2/3 are lay information mediaries (people helping people use info)
32% use public access computers, 50% are ages 14-18.
Agencies are sending their people to libraries for help. People are taking it upon themselves to get help. But libraries are overstretched.

ASIST 2005: The Death of the User. Users as an inherently weak concept?
The user is not always the user. You might be giving users information but they aren’t necessarily using it. You don’t know if they will use the information in the way you anticipated. Direct and indirect outcomes. Let's think about this in academic terms as well: aren't we always surprised by the way students approach problems, construct answers?
USER is an archaic way of looking at behavior (Brenda Dervin).

A new perspective: Social constructivist nature of information: something that is holistic and contextual. Consistent with the need to expand definitions of other: need, giving, use.
Do we need new terms? Expand them? Re-envision them? Re-define them.
Recognize the complexity of the user.

Why do we help people find information?
Lay Information Mediary Behavior: people who seek information on behalf of others without being asked and may or may not follow up. NOT in a professional role. Ordinary people.
Of all demographics, all ages though typically women. Intentional and unintentional. Engage in LIM behavior is a form of caring and maintaining relationships. An expression of caring.
LIM: more likely to RELY SOLELY on PL access, lower income & poverished, women, languages other than English. How info savvy a person is has nothing to do with how educated they are.

80% use library computers DAILY or near daily.

Muses: instead of seeking for themselves, they farm the seeking out to a LIM. Difficult to know who they are.

When people come to the desk, are they the user? Not necessarily—they could be seeking information for someone other than the person in front of you. Concerns about what is lost in translation.

LIMs are info lit: curious empathetic, identify themselves as “go-to” people, recognize info needs, know how to find information.
Stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in public access computers in libraries.

The State of Information Literacy: despite that it is increasingly important, our paradigm is insufficient. It presupposes that it is about individual users seeking and using info on their own behalf. The general public has greater needs than we know.
SOCIAL information literacy: reflect people’s info seeking on behalf of other people. It is based on people being attuned to info situations of others. They know how to provide information at the right time, in the right way, in the right format AS WELL AS providing the right information!
Social Info Lit is a NEW BUSINESS MODEL for libraries.

Research to be done is extensive, deep, and across our discipline.
Social Information Literacy Interventions

Keynote challenge: how can we develop social information literacy and change the world? Step Up!
PONDER: Information Seeking is not always a solo voyage.

Is the relationship between LIMs and Muses co-dependent or exclusive? Are both behaviors occurring in the same person? Does it depend on areas of expertise? Or particular types of information? On life experiences? Opportunity for future research.

For every two people, three people benefit. In public libraries, people that love the library might not be the one in the library “using” it?
The total number of people being served=thinking about it in terms of student use. Are they searching only for themselves or for their friends, sharing information, sharing resources. What is the implications of LIMs in academic use?

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