Letter to CCL from Mary Kay Rudolph -- President CIO's
If you know me at all, you’ll know that I'm a huge Science Fiction fan. In fact, my husband understands that if Worf ever shows up at my door, I’m gone for at least the weekend. (Lt. Worf – NOT the actor). I like all kinds of science fiction and fantasy, but time travel is one of those Sci Fi genres that even the least enthusiastic of fans can enjoy. Who doesn't imagine "what if I could go to any place in time?" Visiting the library of Alexandria is definitely on my top ten list. The library in the book/film "The Name of the Rose," which recalls the Irish and English monastic libraries of the Middle Ages, or the fabulous libraries of Persian Antiquity prior to the conquest by Alexander the Great also rank up near the top of my time travel bucket list.
Even though my earliest and best experiences with libraries revolve around borrowing great fiction and entering alternative worlds, the truth is that the libraries of today, and especially those at our Community Colleges, provide far more than a convenient place to borrow books, or a comfortable setting in which to read them.
The libraries of today, and the librarians that staff them, are the docents for digital exploration. Their guidance and stewardship of electronic resources can be the key to our students' college success. Librarians are the magicians who transforms naive electronic surfers into informed and savvy citizens.
At Santa Rosa Junior College we have a local requirement for a one unit information literacy course in order to graduate with an associate's degree. The reasoning behind the development of the course was simple – many of our students have never been inside a library. If they are digital natives, they still have no idea how to analyze the data that they access, to look for inconsistencies in presentation of materials, to evaluate the source, or to critique the arguments presented.
The course curriculum is well designed to develop these critical and analytical thinking skills. After completion, students almost uniformly rate it as an essential component for their future academic success. They also almost uniformly report that they delayed taking the course until their final semester and wish they would have done so sooner. For several years we have discussed requiring the course to be taken during the first or second semester for all students indicating a goal of transfer. However, the transition to Transfer Model Curriculum (Associate Degrees for Transfer) means that local requirements for Information Literacy are elective and not included in the ADTs. Fewer students are choosing to take the course when specifically looking at transfer to the CSU system.
This is an interesting conundrum. Do we all agree that information literacy is an important part of a college education and preparation for life? Shall we consider incorporating it into existing courses for college success? Shall we keep it as an elective for ADTs but a requirement for a local degree? And what about certificate earners? Skills builders? Concurrent and dual enrollment students? Non-credit students? Isn't information literacy critical to success for our non-credit and basic skills students – perhaps even more so?
Librarians across the State were among the first constituent group to develop statewide purchasing agreements and consortia for effective and consistent acquisition of software and hardware. Librarians routinely work together to develop systems and then share those results or products widely and with their peers. I request that the questions I raised above regarding the best way to infuse information literacy within a college curriculum while meeting the requirements of the ADTs be a topic of discussion at the statewide level.
As President of the California Community College Chief Instructional Officers this year, I invite and eagerly await your best thinking and recommendation.