Friday, October 27, 2006

JCLC Conference Notes, Day Three: Session on Latino InfoLit

Title of session: "Latino Information Literacy: Models for Success."

(While I got a lot out of the sessions I attended, I think for me this was the best session in terms of content and food for thought. The presenters had good PowerPoints, but unfortunately, none of them provided a way to access them online as of this writing).

Isabel Espinal discussed "From InfoLit to LatCrit: Latino Studies/Students & Information Literacy."
  • Librarians need to attain information literacy about Latinos. Do librarians know the sources for finding information for research on Latinos? (or other minority and underrepresented groups for that matter). This includes knowledge of effective search techniques. (See also the presentation on deconstructing information literacy for similar questions).
  • A keyword spelling example: Puerto Rico versus Great Britain. In a reference situation, a librarian did not know how to spell Puerto Rico. Now, if that same librarian did not know how to spell Great Britain, she would be seen as incompetent.
  • How can librarians build their competencies in this area? They can take classes in Latino Studies, read articles and books, attend Latino Studies lectures, and they can join REFORMA (which reminds me, I need to renew my membership soon).
  • Key to understanding this approach to Latino Information Literacy is the theoretical work in critical race theory (CRT) as well as Latino critical theory (LatCrit). The speaker provided citations for further reading (as I read some of them, I will make notes on the blog).
  • Defining elements of CRT and LatCrit:
    1. CRT and LatCrit focus on race and racism.
    2. CRT and LatCrit contest dominant ideology.
    3. CRT and LatCrit focus on social justice and social justice practice.
    4. CRT and LatCrit recognize experiential knowledge.
    5. CRT and LatCrit focus on historical context.
  • The presenter then went on to describe some of her experiences at University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Valeria E. Molteni presented on "Latino Information Literacy: Models for Success." Her presentation focused on Argentinian students and their information literacy needs at CSUDH (California State University-Dominguez Hills), where BI classes are provided in Spanish for students in Spanish courses and other areas. She gave an overview of information literacy in Latin America for purposes of context.
  • The Universidad de Buenos Aires is the largest university. Keep in mind that public education in Argentina is free. Research libraries are only for graduate students and researchers. At the undergraduate level then, there is a lack of information literacy. The level of information literacy varies for those in the graduate level. This is the context they bring when they come to the United States.
  • At CSUHD then, the reference desk will provide Spanish language responses and BI classes in Spanish.
Laura Maldonado Hastert is Reference and Instruction Librarian at George Washington University. She presented on "Getting them in the door: Gelman library reaches out to minority students." She looked at her student population and discussed her library's instructional and outreach efforts.
  • One of the forms of outreach: the library has a student liaison that works with other campus leaders. This student represents the library for other student groups on campus.
  • There is a writing requirement for all students. Librarians have contact with students in this writing program. However, some transfer students are an exception to the requirement, which raises questions about how the library is to reach them. (It is interesting to note that their classes are all hands-on. There are no simple demos or lectures. They have two electronic classrooms with a third one on the way. For me, that is just wishful thinking as I wait for the one that has been promised to be equipped).
  • Assessment is crucial in order to continually prove the usefulness of the instruction programs. This goes along with a university-wide assessment element.
  • In terms of outreach, the library has done diversity displays, staff training on library tours for non-native English speakers, and collaborations with their International Services Office. And there are still things to do.
Susan Luevano, Librarian for Anthropology, Ethnic and Women Studies at CSULB (California State University, Long Beach) provided an overview of the Semillas de Cambio/Seeds of Change project on Information Competence in Chicano and Latino Studies. Through a grant, they were able to create a class component as well as web tutorials on information literacy. Information can be found here.

3 comments:

Martina said...

I find it interesting and sad at the same time how librarians did not know how to spell Puerto Rico. It seems impossible that a professional which is employed to help people might be so narrow minded and not know the name of a US territory just because it has a Spanish surname. I also find it hard to believe the lack of knowledge of librarians related to literature related to Latinos. I understand that librarians specialize in different categories but it is hard to believe that someone with a masters degree could be so narrow on their source of knowledge.

I also believe organizations like are a great source of education to educate librarians and people alike of the wealth of literature Latino authors have written.

Martina said...

I find it interesting and sad at the same time how librarians did not know how to spell Puerto Rico. It seems impossible that a professional which is employed to help people might be so narrow minded and not know the name of a US territory just because it has a Spanish surname. I also find it hard to believe the lack of knowledge of librarians related to literature related to Latinos. I understand that librarians specialize in different categories but it is hard to believe that someone with a masters degree could be so narrow on their source of knowledge.

I also believe organizations like are a great source of education to educate librarians and people alike of the wealth of literature Latino authors have written.

Angel, librarian and educator said...

Martina: Hello there. Thanks for stopping by. Yea, by this point I am not as scared of the lack of knowledge when it comes to spelling, though I still find scary people who may ask how long does it take to drive there or what part of Mexico is that place. Yes, both are true stories. I think it may really be one of those things that has become trivia in social studies classes. Not saying that it is right, but that may explain a few things. And yes, there is a lot of stuff written out there by Latino authors in the U.S. as well as the wealth from Latin America. And these days, a lot of it from Latin America gets translated into English (though not as much as could be, but that would be a separate post). Best, and keep on blogging.