Thanks Montana Library Association!


We had a little server issue at TTW this week, so I am late posting my thanks to the good folks from the Montana Library Association and Montana libraries who hosted me as their keynote for the annual “Offline” conference in Lewistown. MT. What fun!


Tech/Trends Session:

Image: Old Moccasin, MT School.

Do Search Engines Make us Feel Smarter Than We Are? by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson

I have always been interested in the cognitive side of information literacy. How does our existing knowledge, personal beliefs, worldview, and experience intertwine into a decision-making process? How can we understand this process and use it to improve the teaching of information literacy skills?

That being said, I really enjoyed David McRaney’s interview with Yale University’s Matthew Fisher as they considered how the online context impacted self-perceptions of knowledge. Here’s a description from the You Are Not so Smart Podcast page:

The latest research suggest that though technology probably doesn’t make us stupid, it can, however, cause us to believe that we are smarter than we really are. Knowing you can search the internet is similar to knowing that you can consult a dictionary or a home encyclopedia or make a visit to the library when truly puzzled – but it’s different in that your brain, and the brains of every other cybercitizen, has become accustomed to the power to almost effortlessly reach into the internet and in a second or two bring back the info previously missing from your head, and you can do that mid-conversation, or while driving, or in the subway or on the couch or in line for a concert. That effortlessness and in-our-pockets availability seems to deeply affect how we categorize what is in our heads and what is not. When we consider all there is to know about a given subject, the convenience of search engines seems to blur the way we think about what we do and do not personally know about the

The interview is linked and embedded here.
You Are Not So Smart Podcast 063 – How search engines make us feel smarter than we really are

For instruction librarians, this research may have important implications. We know that students often turn to Google first when starting research because of familiarity and ease of use. But, we do not often consider how early Google searches may impact perceptions of knowledge. According to Fisher’s work, early Google searches may echo throughout the search process even if searches turn to other tools. You can read the work of Fisher and his team here: Searching for Explanations: How the Internet Inflates Estimates of Internal Knowledge.

Librarians may be interested in carrying this work further by considering other online tools such as subscription databases or other online repositories impact our self-evaluations of knowledge. I will add this to my list of studies that I wish I had time and ability to perform.

Troy SwansonTroy A. Swanson is Department Chair and Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. He is the co-editor of the recent book from ACRL, Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think About Information. You can follow him on Twitter at @t_swanson.

IRDL: Call for Proposals

Note from Michael: I am honored to be working as an instructor on this project with some outstanding folks. 

Call for Proposals

We are issuing a call for applications for the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship (IRDL) 2016. We are seeking novice librarian researchers who are employed by academic libraries or research libraries outside an academic setting in the United States to participate in the Institute. Novice researchers typically may have conducted research but have not yet had a peer-reviewed article published as the primary author or had an individual presentation accepted by a peer-reviewed conference. We define “novice” broadly; if you feel that you would benefit from being guided throughout the entire research design process, we encourage your application. Librarians of all levels of professional experience are welcome to apply.

The third workshop will be held on June 6-16, 2016, with arrival on campus on Sunday, June 5, and departure on Friday, June 17.

The William H. Hannon Library has received a three-year grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to offer this continuing education opportunity for academic and research librarians. Each year 21 librarians will receive, at no cost to them, instruction in research design and a full year of peer/mentor support to complete a research project at their home institutions; the learning experience, travel to and from Los Angeles, CA, accommodations, and food will be supplied to Scholars free of charge. The summer IRDL workshop is supplemented with pre-Institute learning activities and a peer learning network that provides ongoing support. The workshop will be held on the campus of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. For more information about the project, including the project partners, the San José State University School of Information and the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC), please see the project website:

We seek librarians with a passion for research and a desire to improve their research skills. IRDL is designed to bring together all that the literature tells us about the necessary conditions for librarians to conduct valid and reliable research in an institutional setting. The cohort will be chosen from a selective submission process, with an emphasis on enthusiasm for research and diversity from a variety of perspectives, including ethnicity and type and size of library.

Selection criteria:

  • Commitment to the year-long process of communicating with other participants and conducting the proposed study within the 2016-2017 academic year;
  • Significance of the research problem to the operational success of the applicant’s library or to the profession of librarianship;
  • Thoughtfulness, thoroughness, and clarity of the research proposal;
  • Enthusiasm for research and a desire to learn.

We will be accepting applications from December 1, 2015 to February 1, 2016.

Scholars accepted to the Institute will be notified in early April, 2016.

Please contact Project Directors with any questions about the Institute or the application process:
Kristine Brancolini, Dean of the Library, Loyola Marymount University
[email protected]
Marie Kennedy, Serials & Electronic Resources Librarian, Loyola Marymount University
[email protected]

Project Info Lit: Grads Challenged by All They Need to Learn After College

Note from Michael. I was honored to serve on this project’s advisory board. I wrote about it in “Office Hours” here:

Most of today’s college students who think they only need to land a good job once they graduate are blindsided by all they don’t know about life skills and surviving in the workplace once they’re out of college, according to a new national research report released today.

“Clearly, a wide gap exists between the life skills grads have and the ones they still need to learn, ” said Alison J. Head, a principal research scientist at the University of Washington’s Information School and the director of Project Information Literacy (PIL). “Most of the grads we studied scrambled to learn such essential new skills as money-management, household repairs, how to advance in their careers and communicate better on the job.

The report, “Staying Smart: How Today’s Graduates Continue to Learn Once They Complete College,”? is the eighth report from PIL, based at the University of Washington’s Information School. The ongoing research study examines how Millennials find and use information for solving information problems they have in the digital age.

In their latest study, 1,651 recent college graduates from 10 US colleges and universities were questioned about the challenges they face, and the information-seeking strategies they develop, use, and adapt as they make the transition from college to their personal and professional lives.

Researchers found three fourths of the graduates they studied sought how-to information—quick fixes they could use to solve urgent problems in their personal lives. Over half spent much of their time trying to improve their delegation and negotiation skills with older coworkers, or extending the very short shelf life of technical skills learned in college only a few years before.

Not surprisingly, grads were heavy users of Google search when trying to find learning sources. Social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, and TED Talks were go-to sources—but MOOCs, like Coursera and Udemy were not. Notably, they turned to friends, coworkers, and family with their learning needs almost as much as the Web.

Even though grads have more information outlets than all of the generations before them, learning after college still posed challenges for them. Most struggled to carve out available time in their busy lives to keep learning.

Others could not afford the expertise they wanted from professionals like career advisors, attorneys, or accountants. Still others had trouble staying motivated to learn everything they thought they should know to stay current from the volumes of information around them.

While three-quarters of the graduates believed college had sharpened their cognitive skills for finding and evaluating information, only about a quarter thought their college experience had helped them learn how to frame and ask their own questions.


All in the all, the findings from this two-year study suggest that colleges and universities are turning out ?graduates that are specialized, employable, and relatively proficient information seekers. Yet, they also reveal the failure of higher education to? prepare lifelong learners who know how to identify and ask their own questions, which may the one skill they need most in their post-college lives.


“As more and more college students are specializing in their majors so they are more employable, they are taking fewer courses in liberal arts, where general inquiry and problem solving are part of the curriculum,” Head said, “our study reveals some of the shortcomings of an education that is solely focused on financial rewards at graduation.”

Graduates in the study sample had completed college during 2007 and 2012 and had attended one of 10 US liberal arts or research colleges or universities: Belmont University (TN), Ohio State University, Phoenix College, University of Redlands (CA), Trinity University (TX), University of Central Florida, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Washington.

The lifelong learning research study was supported with a National Leadership Grant (LG-06-13-0186-13) from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The full report for “Staying Smart: How Today’s Graduates Continue to Learn Once They Complete College” is available here (112 pages, 6.9 MB, PDF)

A short promotional video is also available (2:58 minutes)

An infographic highlighting the report’s major findings is available.

For more information, contact the study’s Principal Investigator, Dr. Alison Head at 707-800-7590 or [email protected]

From TTW: Happy Holidays & Thanks to All!



Holiday Greetings to all and the very best to everyone for 2016! We’ll see you in January!

Thanks so much to TTW readers, our excellent contributors, guest authors and all the folks I met in my travels this year!

Shout out to these conferences and libraries for being so welcoming:

Ontario Library Association, Toronto, Ontario.

Alaska Library Association Conference, Juneau, Alaska.

Connecticut Library Association Conference, Mystic, Connecticut,

Prescott Valley, Arizona, for the Arizona Library Association.

Grand Valley State University, Michigan Library Association.

I LEAD USA, Springfield, Illinois.

Prince William Public Library System, Virginia.

Ohio Library Conference, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Library 2.015 Conference

Colorado Association of Libraries, Loveland, Colorado.

Arizona Library Association Conference, Flagstaff, Arizona.

Carmel Clay Public Library, Indiana.

Sarasota County Library System, Florida.

People, Libraries & Technology – A Weblog by Michael Stephens