Information Literacy and Independent Research

Information literacy is more important than ever in the era of fake news and a glut of online information. Do you want to know how to conduct good research for writing, genealogy, local history, medical, political issues, or other interests? A basic understanding of information literacy can help you find and use information on all kinds of topics. This course will give you the tools you need to conduct research using online and library resources, and more importantly, evaluate the information you find. You’ll learn how to find credible resources, organize information, and use your research in ways that are legal and ethical.

Dates: Tuesdays, March 7, 21, and 28 and April 4, 2017
Time:  10:00 am – Noon
Location:  Mercer Public Library, 2648W Margaret St., Mercer, Wisconsin
Cost: $30 or $25 if registered before February 21, 2017
Course # 17W4

Objectives: Students will learn how to define an information need, develop a research plan, retrieve information from a variety of sources, evaluate and compare information from various sources, and gain a basic understanding of intellectual property, copyright, and fair use of copyrighted material.

Course structure: The course will be given in four sessions, each 2 hours long, and will include a combination of lecture and hands-on practice with various references sources.

  • Week 1: Introduction to Information Literacy – This session will introduce you to the concept of information literacy; how to find and recognize good sources of information; how to develop a research plan; how to manage your research materials; and intellectual property, copyright, and fair use.
  • Week 2: Exploring a topic and using library resources – This session will explore online library catalogs; print resources such as books and magazines; primary sources such as online archives; and e-books. You will learn more about the resources of your area public and academic libraries and how to use them.
  • Week 3: Searching databases and the deep web – This session will explain the difference between the open web and the deep web. You will learn about the databases provided by your library and other deep web resources, as well as how to find, evaluate, and read scholarly articles.
  • Week 4: Searching and evaluating information on the open web – This session will give you a better understanding of the world wide web and how the information on it is created. You’ll examine web searching strategies and learn how to recognize quality online sources. You’ll also see examples of online resources that may be helpful for your own research.

Requirements: Have an interest in conducting research using library materials and online sources. Bring a notebook to use as a research journal, your research questions and topics, and a laptop for in-class use if you have one.

Optional textbook: The Oxford Guide to Library Research (4th ed) by Thomas Mann – a useful text for any researcher, but not required to attend the class.

Instructor: Teresa Schmidt obtained her master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She regularly teaches computer and technology courses to adults and senior citizens through her work as the director of the Mercer Public Library.