As a former teen librarian, I enjoyed visiting local high schools to teach them about all of the great library resources they could access on their smart phones. I also partnered with teachers to introduce students to library databases, often when large projects or reports were assigned, to help students navigate the often intimidating research process. The lessons always started with an interesting discussion opened by the following question – when you teacher gives you a project or essay, where do you begin your research?
Instantly, students would immediately point to Google, Facebook, or Wikipedia (even “advanced” classes). All fine first steps, but then the next question was the stumper – how do you know what you’re finding is true? That’s often when discussion came to a grinding halt.
A popular stereotype I’ve heard in my travels around the state is, “Young people grew up with computer – they don’t need this education! Kids are tech savvy!”
While we may be living in a golden age of technological innovation and access to information, the down side is that we are all bombarded with a constant stream of information that pours in through tv, radio, print media – but most insidiously, through social media Now more than ever, children and adults of all ages need to not only become savvier information “consumers” but also build strong information habits – it is essential to survival in this “Age of Information”.
To be clear, information literacy is not censorship, nor is it political. To be information literate is an outcome of critical thinking; a key skill that is gaining more attention in the field of early childhood education, as seen through projects such as Mind in the Making. To quote the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, “They (schools) need to be teaching information literacy as soon as the kid can push a button.”
So, what are some simple tips to build better information habits? Whether you’re reading a book, website, newspaper, or any other published source of information, ask yourself the following questions:
• What is the author’s intent? To inform, to sell, to persuade, or to incite strong emotion?
• Where did the author get their information? What type of sources did the author cite?
• When the information was published or last updated?
• Can you find an author and/or publication date?
• Does the information have a tone that is critical, to the point of name calling or bullying? Does the information illicit a strong emotional reaction or a “funny feeling” in your gut?
We all have a lot to compete with in our daily lives: demanding work schedules, running kids to school and practices, regular errands, keeping up with friends and family – and now we have to determine whether the news and other information we encounter is truthful and accurate? What is a parent – or any of us – to do?
Use your public library. Show your support of your public library, especially to your local representatives. Most importantly, model good information consuming habits by talking with your children about their “media diets” and study habits, and when in doubt, visit the friendly staff at your nearest KCPL location where librarians are always ready and eager to help.
Krista King-Oaks is a Covington resident and former Kenton County Public Library children’s librarian. Krista now serves as a state employee with the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, as a Youth Services Consultant, developing partnerships in support of library summer reading, early literacy, and other youth services programs in communities across the Commonwealth. For further information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mind in the Making: the seven essential life skills every child needs by Ellen Galinsky
Fighting for the Facts: How to tell what’s News and what’s Fiction by 1A: NPR Podcast,
How to choose your news by TedEd,
Cox, Anna Marie. “Carla Hayden Thinks Libraries Are a Key to Freedom – The …” The New York Times Magazine. The New York Times, 19 Jan. 2017. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.