UNT Libraries leads information literacy collaboration

In our rapidly changing and information-rich world, information literacy is a critical skill that crosses all disciplines, learning environments, and education levels. Unfortunately, many students enter post-secondary education with inadequate information literacy skills, something that Gayla Byerly, librarian and instruction coordinator at UNT Libraries, sees all too often.

“A common problem is that libraries from elementary through college have one chance to teach information literacy,” she says.

Gayla Byerly, librarian and instruction coordinator at UNT Libraries

For students to truly master the skill, Byerly explains, information literacy should be integrated in school curriculum from preschool through higher education, often referred to as P20.

Denton is in the unique position of being home to UNT and Texas Woman’s University, both with departments of library and information science and large academic libraries. In addition, the city has a community college, a vibrant public library system and a school district of almost 25,000 students.

Librarians from the universities, schools and the city have worked side by side before on “Denton Reads,” a community reading collaboration that began in 2006, Byerly says.

“While Denton Reads is no longer in existence, it gave librarians the opportunity to get to know each other and begin to discuss common issues we face,” she says. “Out of Denton Reads, the idea for Denton Inquiry 4 Lifelong Learning, or DI4LL, came together.”

DI4LL is a collaborative project among librarians serving the constituencies of a range of institutions in the greater Denton literacy community: Denton Independent School District, Denton Public Library, TWU’s Blagg-Huey Library, TWU’s Department of Library and Information Studies, UNT’s College of Information, and UNT Libraries. It is dedicated to developing lifelong learners through improved P20 information literacy.

“I am not aware of another effort like this one in our nation,” says Judi Moreillon, an assistant professor at TWU’s School of Library and Information Studies. “We realize this is an ambitious undertaking and are determined to enjoy and learn from the journey whether or not we are successful in reaching our goals.”

DI4LL hosted a workshop in October 2012 to kick off its year-long book study of Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Your School by Carol C. Kuhlthau, Leslie K. Maniotes, and Ann K. Caspari.

“It was at Strickland Middle School and had about 45 people in attendance,” Byerly says. “DISD, Denton Public, TWU, and UNT participated. We had a program, a skit and a values sharing exercise.”

Participants also selected chapters from the book which they will read, develop instruction for and post to the group’s wiki.

While still in the very early stages, Byerly says DI4LL’s dream is that Denton students will have a vertical alignment of information literacy skills which are built year over year.

“The concept is grounded in theory now. What we hope is that given recent technological advances, such as student ID card swiping, we’ll be able to follow students P20 in a longitudinal study,” she says. “It would be groundbreaking.”

Another potential next step is developing expertise in the area of action research, Moreillon says.

“This will allow individual librarians who are part of this initiative to ask a question that is meaningful in their particular teaching situation, study the problem and suggest interventions to solve it, collect data and analyze the results. Each action researcher would then share her/his learning with other stakeholders impacted by the problem who would benefit from hearing the results of the study and with the DI4LL group,” she says.

While problems and interventions may look different from the perspective of members of each institution, Moreillon believes they can learn a great deal from each other’s efforts to address literacy challenges.

  • Learn more about DI4LL, contact Byerly, or 940-565-2014.

UNT Libraries is proud to support UNT’s four bold goals, and believes that its participation in DI4LL demonstrates its capacity to build and expand mutually beneficial partnerships and resources.

- Caroline Booth, Director of Communications and Marketing, UNT Libraries