In 2004, soon after starting a new job at the Boston College Libraries, I was put on an Information Literacy Task Force. I’d been a librarian for 12 years at that point — at the Boston Public Library, the Harvard Business School, and a non-profit organization, among other places — but I’d never heard the term “information literacy.”
It seemed like a buzzword (buzzphrase?). I wasn’t really sure what it meant.
I took a playful poke at the uncertainty, composing a poem called What is Information Literacy?, comprised of eight anagrams of “information literacy.”(“Formality in creation?”; “Merry citational info?”; “A faintly moronic rite?”; “Non-literary CIA motif?”; and more).
Now, as I get set to retire June 1st as Head of Liaison & Instruction Services at Boston University — 17 years and 14 MBTA stops removed from those early days at Boston College — I’m saying goodbye to a professional connection to “info lit” that ended up occupying much of my career.
But while the profession may be ending, the connection remains. So does the uncertainty — and that’s a good thing.
I tell undergraduates — and their professors — that research is as much about discovering questions as it is about finding answers. I tell them I call my own method of research “directed stumbling.” I tell them to “Get lost,” to go down the rabbit hole, to find their own path through research. And they get it. They really do.
I’ll miss working with undergrads and with the library staff and faculty partners who’ve become friends and colleagues over the years. But I’ve still got plenty of rabbit holes to go down. Stay tuned and watch this space for more.