Fraser

Blanchett, Helen; Powis, Chris; Webb, Jo. A Guide to Teaching Information Literacy: 101 Practical Tips. London: Facet Publishing, 2011. 262pp. 110.00 USD. ISBN-13: 978-1856046596.

The authors of A Guide to Teaching Information Literacy: 101 Practical Tips are very forthcoming in their intentions. Rather than write another book on the fundamentals of good information literacy instruction, they wanted to create a new type of resource for library instructors that would help them build on their current practice and extend their repertoire into unexplored areas. What we have here is not a comprehensive overview but rather a quick reference handbook: a place to turn when we are in need of guidance and inspiration.

One might expect a collection of 101 practical tips to be a fragmented mish-mash of unrelated ideas, but surprisingly, some sections of the book are quite readable in sequence. In fact, the first section of the text, entitled Planning, would serve nicely as an initiation into the theoretical underpinnings of information literacy instruction. These first 15 "tips" are concise and well-written, guiding the reader through all the major pre-session considerations. These include such important topics as IL standards, needs analysis, learning styles, aims and outcomes, assessment and evaluation. An instructor may even look at these first fifty pages as a kind of planning checklist of topics to understand and consider in preparation for a session.

The text becomes more disjointed in the second section on Delivery where the authors have adopted an alphabetical arrangement of tips. This reminds the reader that these tips are not necessarily meant to be read in sequence but instead referred back to whenever necessary. While this certainly facilitates the ease-of-use of the text as a reference, there are points where a reader, while flipping through the pages, might ask why related tips are dissociated from one another. As an example, the section addressing Interruptions would certainly flow nicely into that on Latecomers were it not ironically interrupted by Jokes and Humour.

Arrangement aside, the tips themselves are all important considerations in the delivery of instruction in any setting. These are the common issues dealt with by all instructors. At some point, we have had to deal with disruptive or unresponsive students, had to troubleshoot some technical problem on the fly, or had to contemplate the appropriate use of PowerPoint in our presentations. Here we get practical advice, written from experience, on how to avoid many of the major problems in instruction delivery and how to address them if they do arise.

The final fifty-one tips, under the section heading Activities, are either full descriptions of specific instructional activities (e.g., Mind Maps) or general advice on implementing some of the most mainstream instruction methods (e.g., Discussions). The bulk of the text's utility as a reference work comes from this section. Instructors will find this section useful in exploring the range of activities and methods at their disposal to focus or refresh their current instructional practice.

Some notable examples from this section that have been used in some form for library instruction by this reviewer are: Action Learning, Brainstorming, Cephalonian Method, Lectures, Storytelling and Treasure Hunts. The descriptions include a complete outline of the activity and provide some useful pointers the reader may not have originally considered. In addition, there are a number of intriguing activities that the reviewer will contemplate using in the future. For example, Dividing the Dots, Poster Tours and Stop, Start, Continue Feedback might serve to inject a new flair into the information literacy instruction already offered to our students.

The tips in every section come with a checklist of suitable scenarios for implementation, additional ideas for how to best use the tip, some issues to look out for or at least be aware of, and further readings.

This text will serve as a great resource for instructors looking for inspiration. Whether it's just a small tweak or a complete reimagining, A Guide to Teaching Information Literacy offers some interesting and creative suggestions for improving instructional practice.

Ian Fraser, Head Library Instruction, Data Services & Teaching Technology, i.fraser@uwinnipeg.ca, University of Winnipeg Library, The University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba

This review copy was provided by way of The OLAStore.  Neal-Schuman titles are distributed in Canada by the OLAStore.  Members of the Partnership (http://www.thepartnership.ca/) will generally receive a discount of 5-10% on most publications. For further information about this title, please visit www.accessola.com/theolastore or contact orders@accessola.com.



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Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research (ISSN: 1911-9593)