Library Corner: Let’s talk information literacy

Chris Newell
Grand County Library District
Both teens and adults can benefit from the library's Information Literacy Classes taught by Shelly Mathis at the Kremmling Library.
Grand County Library District / Courtesy photo

According to Library Associate Shelly Mathis, many people fall victim to the types of information they read on the internet. Searching for and finding accurate and credible information online can be remedied by paying close attention to the hints and details found on websites.

I decided to interview Shelly in hopes that she could provide some guidance that will help get to the heart of the matter.

“It’s all about information literacy,” Shelly said. “The American Library Association’s traditional definition of information literacy is the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information. Yet, literacy know-how needs to become more than simply remembering recommended steps. Instead, we need to have the knowledge embedded into our daily social and cultural practices.”

Motivated by her desire to share this knowledge, Shelly started the InfoLit Club which meets monthly at the Kremmling Library.

When asked why an InfoLit Club, Shelly explained, “Such knowledge supports lifelong learning and democratic citizenship. Not only does information literacy empower us to avoid victimization, it trains us to be savvy online searchers who can find trustworthy information amid the plethora of content now available.”

Teens and parents in Shelly’s InfoLit Club are learning something new each month that will help them navigate our world of abundant information and technology. Information literacy skills are not for students alone, but for everyone. Those who participate in the club have had wonderful things to say about their learning experiences.

“Information on how to do research using Google and other search engines, as well as the local library search catalog, should be the first thing taught in every English class! In the times we live in, everyone should have this “boolean” information in their hands.” — Deb

“We have thoroughly enjoyed the InfoLit class offered at the Kremmling library. Shelly’s presentation is fun and relatable to current content being taught and learned. Understanding how to find accurate and reliable information is very important, and we have already been able to put into practice some of the skills taught thus far in the program. We are so grateful and look forward to the upcoming classes.” — Laura

“This class has been really helpful to me. It has taught me new ways to search the library catalog and the internet. I think it will be really helpful for me in the future when I need to find good information online or a specific book at the library.” — Teagan

“… I find [the information literacy class] important and useful due to its ability to teach how to navigate a largely incoherent and narratively focused database of opinions and search for the facts that seem so hard to find.” — Carl

“The Information Literacy Program has opened my eyes to so many new ways to not only search the library catalog for specific books and material, but it has completely changed how I search for information on the web. I had no idea there were so many shortcuts and other specific ways to search. I am so thankful my daughter is learning these great tools now, so she will be able to take them with her to college and her future. They really are priceless skills to have and I wish I knew these years ago!” — Anne

Shelly shared a few quick CRAAP Test pointers to ask yourself when searching the Internet so you can avoid being duped. Try these out next time you are searching for credible information online:

• Currency: Are the links functional and take you where they promise to take you?

• Relevance: How current is the information? Would you feel comfortable citing this source?

• Authority: What does the URL reveal about the author or source?

• Accuracy: Is the information verified by evidence, peer-review and other credible sources? Is the tone unbiased and unemotional?

• Purpose: Is the purpose behind the information to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade? Is the information fact or opinion, biased or unbiased, objective or emotional?

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