In the evolution of information literacy from a competency based set of standards to one that is more holistic and reflects current trends in higher education, it is critical to evaluate the role of information literacy in social change. One of the key purposes of a university is not only to help students gain critical thinking and applied skills for the workplace but also to instill a sense of responsibility and desire to make a difference in the world around them. More than just focusing on data collection, it is important for academic libraries to, “shift our thinking to include affective (emotional) learning outcomes that address self-efficacy, student confidence, attitudes, motivation, and valuing what is being learned.” (ACRL Standard Review ACRL AC12 Doc 13.1). These key areas are all embodied within the learning outcomes of a service learning curriculum. The focus of this paper is two-fold: to examine how information literacy complements a service learning focused curriculum and how service learning projects can be embedded in any course regardless of the discipline.
When people ask me what my favorite job ever was I tell them the truth: Cocktail Waitress. I loved wearing too short skirts and fishnets with platforms, customers that were either drunk or tipsy but always happy and the ability to drink Pepsi and watch ESPN at work. The tips weren’t bad either.
As an undergrad I had my life mapped out. Political science major, top law school, move to Washington DC and turn politicians into rock stars everyone would vote for. My GPA and compulsive behavior made sure that plan wasn’t going to quite work out. I still got my picture taken with Bill Clinton on the tarmac of the executive terminal at the Oakland Airport. That’s as close as I got to world domination. On to Plan B.
I applied to library school because I didn’t want to be a teacher. I applied to library school because I thought what could be hard about checking out books and calling people to remind them their books were overdue? I applied to library school cuz I figured it was easy money and I had fun doing research. And I never wanted to work with kids. Ever.
Something magical happened when I started classes. I discovered my inner nerd. She must have been hiding behind all the late night clubs in SF and ultra cool vintage gear, waiting to break out. Information seeking behavior, systems design, the Zen-like art of the almighty reference interview, so many options. I thought I would design seamless interfaces with sophisticated search algorithms or top secret research for the RAND Corporation. But I have a compulsion to tell when I see the words “confidential” and I can’t program for shit. On to Plan C.
Oddly enough, I find reference at an academic library is almost like working at a bar. Instead of ESPN I have Meebo and Twitter, my students dress like they are going to a club. I still get to hear life stories although they are more coherent cuz it’s not from a rambling drunk. While I hung up the mini skirt and fishnets long ago, a peak under the “modesty panel” at the reference desk lets you know i still have a fetish for platforms. When I am thirsty I have a full sized Starbucks in the lobby. I miss the tips though.