Information Literacy: News & Events


2012 News & Events


Rocco Piccinino of the Young Science Library has worked with Environmental Science and Policy to develop an information literacy program for majors in this field. This brings the number of Smith programs and departments with such programs to thirty-five. Discussion continue with those six still without a similar research for majors page.


Sika Berger became the ninth librarian to attend the Association of College and Research Libraries Immersion Program. This intensive five-day workshop provides a solid theoretical and practical background for librarians who wish to improve their knowledge of pedagogy and their classroom practice. All 685 entering first-year students and Ada Comstock Scholars successfully completed  the Research Skills Quiz with a perfect score. 

With the assistance of librarian Elizabeth Foster, Study of Women and Gender became the thirty-fourth department or program to establish an Information Literacy Program for its majors. This brings the number participating to 83%. Discussion continue with those remaining.


For the fourth year (685) all incoming first year students and Ada Comstock Scholars have taken the Research Skills Quiz.  This interactive teaching tool provides immediate feedback to students about academic integrity and basic searching strategies. This year's Quiz included information about the Libraries' new Discover search tool.

Individual research appointments were conducted with all 89 honors project Smith seniors. In addition to receiving individualized recommendations on research methods, students were engaged in a discussion about the broader information literacy issues detailed in the Honors Project Information Literacy Checklist.

April 2012

Article published summarizing the history and philosophy of the Smith Colleges Information Literacy Program:

Sajdak, Bruce T. "Let the faculty do it: responsibility and collaboration in developing an information literacy program." College and Research Libraries News 73:4 (2012): 196-199.

2011 News & Events

November 2011

American Studies became the thirty-third Smith program or department to create its own information literacy program for majors. Only nine descriptions remain to be completed unless changes in the curriculum should indicate the need for others. Congratulations to Pam Skinner, whose hard work with the faculty in the program has made this new statement possible.

All entering first year or Ada Comstock Scholars attending Smith have completed the required Research Skills Quiz, which helps new students learn basic library-related skills and academic integrity.

September 2011

One of the major departments in the Sciences, Biology, became the thirty-second department to complete creation of its Information Literacy Program.  Biology joins several other departments with well-established programs such as Engineering, Geoscience, Physics, Computer Sciences, and Psychology.

May 2011

During this month Latin American Studies became the thirty-first program or department to complete work on its Information Literacy program for majors. LAS joins other area studies programs such as East Asian Studies with an Information Literacy presence. Now roughly three-fourths of Smith departments and programs have completed such program statements.

April 2011

Thanks to the work of Sharon Domier and Sika Berger, the East Asian Studies program has now established its information literacy program. EAS becomes the 30th Smith department or program to formalize its commitment to information literacy as part of the curriculum for its majors. It joins East Asian Language and Literature Chinese & Japanese, all three programs serving students working on various aspects of these important cultures. The Smith College Information Literacy Program has now established programs for over 70% of Smith majors. Discussions with all twelve remaining departments and programs continue.

March 2011

Music became the 29th department/program at Smith College to create its own information literacy program statement.  All three performing arts programs now have such statements - Music, Theater, and Dance.  Negotiations continue with the remaining 13 departments/programs without an articulated program for majors

The Government Department completed its Information Literacy Program for majors, becoming the 28th Smith department/program to do so.  Only fourteen programs or departments are left without such a program.

On March 1st the Information Literacy Team in collaboration with Information Technology Services sponsored a program on Information Literacy and Technology.  Speakers included Christopher Loring and Bryn Geffert, Smith & Amherst College Library Directors, Jennifer Hall-Witt (History) and Pam Skinner (Neilson Library) on using digital primary source collections, and David Podoy (Neilson Library) on the new generation of discovery tools. A panel of three librarians and Tom Laughner, Educational Technology Services Director, moderated a lively discussion to end the event.

2010 News & Events

November 2010

All 670 entering first-year students and Ada Comstock Scholars complete the Research Skills for Students quiz. This 16-questions quiz covers basic research skills and academic integrity. Students who respond to a question incorrectly are given the right answer and an explanation before being asked to resubmit the correct answer.

September 2010

The 27th of 42 potential programs for majors was inaugurated in September.  Film Studies joins other programs in the arts such as Dance and Theatre. The keystone to this program is work done with the FLS 200 course, always a fully-enrolled class of film enthusiasts and potential scholars and directors.

May 2010

Two new programs for majors have now been added to the growing list of departments and programs with Information Literacy programs. Chinese joins Japanese and seven other programs stressing non-English language and literary research skills. Dance becomes the second program in the performing arts, joining the already-established program in Theater. Twenty-six of forty-two programs for majors have now been launched at Smith College.

March 2010

Two more departments have completed work on their Information Literacy programs for majors. Portuguese became the 23rd department, joining Spanish and most other Smith language/literature programs. Economics became the 24th, joining several other Division II departments such as Afro-American Studies, Education, History, and Sociology. The Smith Information Literacy Program is now well past the halfway mark in developing individual programs for majors.

2009 News & Events

December 2009

Three more departments created Information Literacy program in the latter part of 2009. Comparative Literature joined a host of other language and literature departments with established programs. Theater became the first performing arts department to establish their program. Finally Landscape Studies became the first Art program to launch a program. With these three additions, the Smith College Information Literacy Program has passed the halfway point in establishing twenty-two programs for departmental majors. Talks continue with the remaining twenty departments and programs.

November 2009

For the first time all 700 entering first-year students and Ada Comstock Scholars complete both the Research Skills Quiz & Plagiarism Challenge.

May 2009

Four more departments created information literacy programs for their majors: Geosciences, Jewish StudiesSociology, and Spanish.  Drafts of program statements are also under discussion in several other departments and programs.  With these four the Smith College Information Literacy Program now has nineteen active programs with work continuing on the creation of twenty one others.

February 2009

Celebrating its fifth year of existence the Smith College Information Literacy Team reported to the faculty about progress to date at the February Teaching Arts Lunch.  Faculty perspectives on information literacy were provided by representatives from all three divisions – Giovanna Bellesia (Italian), Sue Freeman and Rosetta Cohen (Education & Child Study), and Donna Riley (Engineering).

African American Studies became the fifteenth Smith College information literacy program for majors.  Nine departments or programs in Division I now have information literacy programs for their majors.  Joining Afro-American Studies are: Classics, East Asian Language and Literature (Japanese), English, French, German, Italian, Philosophy, & Religion.

January 2009

Joining Engineering, Physics, and Psychology, Computer Science became the fourth Division III department to launch its Information Literacy program. Overall this program is the fourteenth to be established at Smith College

2008 News & Events

November 2008

Smith launches its own version of the Plagiarism Tutorial. Developed at Indiana University and programmed locally by Eric Loehr, Systems Librarian, this page has been adapted to Smith College’s Information Literacy Program. Students can read about plagiarism, get examples of what it is (and is not) and take a demanding ten-question test on the subject. A printable certificate is displayed upon successful completion of the test. Faculty are encourage to ask their students to complete this tutorial.

The East Asian Language and Literature Department has become the thirteenth Smith department to create an information literacy program. This page describes research and language skills the department expects of its Japanese language majors. The Smith College Libraries’ East Asian Specialist, Sharon Domier, was heavily involved in the creation of the program and will be an active participant in the teaching which will result from it. Of special interest is an annual workshop which will be given to students about to depart for their Junior Year Abroad experience.

June 2008

The Religion Department became the twelfth Smith College department to launch an information literacy program. The program connects students’ information literacy skills with the Mission Statement of the department and stresses students’ work in the required REL 200 course. Religion becomes the seventh Division I department to complete its Information Literacy program. Along with Classics, English, French, German, Italian, and Philosophy Division I now boasts seven active and developing information literacy programs for majors.

May 2008

A record number of Smith College students took the Research Skills Quiz & Plagiarism Challenge, the two quizzes designed to help students attain basic research & academic integrity skills. In 2007/08 592 students took the Research Skills Quiz 1092 times (up from 494 students/1015 times in 2006/07). Students may take the quiz as many times as needed to get a perfect score; correct answers are provided after the first quiz is taken. The Plagiarism Challenge was taken 609 times by 491 students (up from 484/375 last year).

How did students react to library-related classes in the Five College Libraries? The statistics are in from Spring. Students ranked their classes as follows:

    366 61.4% Excellent
    225 37.8% Good
    5 00.8% Fair

April 2008

Ad hoc Faculty Committee on Information Literacy completes report on current state of the College's Information Literacy Program. This report contains several recommendations for improving various parts of the current program and represents part of the ongoing process of librarian/faculty collaboration and program evaluation so necessary to Information Literacy. The next step for this report is a review by the Library Director, Provost, and ultimately the Committee on Academic Priorities (CAP).

February 2008

Congratulations to Rocco Piccinino, who has been admitted to 2008 Association of College and Resarch Libraries Immersion Program. Admission to this intensive 5 day program is competitive, but Rocco has prevailed nonetheless. The program stresses teaching skills and information literacy, knowledge of which will benefit the students and faculty of Division 3 classes and all of us in the Smith College Libraries. Rocco is the fifth Smith College librarian to go to Immersion.

Ad hoc faculty advisory committee appointed

The Provost has appointed three members of the faculty to serve on an ad hoc committee to collaborate on the Smith College Information Literacy Program. This group will work with members of the Information Literacy Team to review the current program and to move it forward. All three divisions are represented on the committee: Ann Leone (Division 1), Marnie Anderson (Division 2), and Donna Riley (Division 3), the latter who also served on the faculty advisory committee which helped launch the Smith program.

New Member of Information Literacy Team

Formerly of the Young Science Library and member of the Information Literacy Team, Rebecca Pappert left Smith College on January 11, 2008 for a new position at the University of Virginia. Taking her place on the Information Literacy Team is Sharon Domier, Five College East Asian Specialist. Sharon brings a wealth of knowledge and teaching experience to the ILT, and we are grateful for her participation.

January, 2008

During the fall term 60.7% of students rated their experience in a library-related class as excellent. 36.5% indicated that their class was good, and the remainder (2.8%) thought their session was fair.

A record number of students completed the basic Research Skills and Plagiarism Challenge quizzes during the fall term. The Research Skills quiz tests students’ knowledge of evaluating web sources and finding alternatives to the web search engine, getting help on citing sources, understanding peer review, and identifying scholarly resources. 482 students took the Research Skills quiz once in the fall (up from 414 in Fall, 2006) with 401 taking the quiz more than once to get a better score. 406 students took the Plagiarism Challenge (up from 312 last fall). Having viewed the correct answers 101 students took the quiz a second time.

2007 News & Events

December, 2007

The French Department became the eleventh Smith College department to develop an Information Literacy program. This program is based upon competency standards for students which include information literacy – but also address other basic skills such as reading, writing, cultural awareness, and software literacy. Other language departments which already have Information Literacy programs include: Classics, German, and Italian.

August, 2007

Physics became the third Division III and the tenth Smith department to create a formal information literacy program. As with other science departments, work on implementing this program will be a collaborative effort for Physics faculty and librarians Rocco Piccinino and Rebecca Pappert.

May, 2007

The History department became the ninth Smith College deparment or program to adopt an information literacy program. This detailed road map establishes specific information literacy competencies for history majors (and others) taking 100 through 400 level history courses.

Smith students enrolled in writing intensive classes took the Basic Research Skills and quiz 1,015 times and the Plagiarism Challenge quiz 474 times during 2006/07. The quizzes were offered on Moodle so that students could participate at a time of their choosing. For the first time instructional tutorials were embedded in the correct answers given to those who answered questions incorrectly; these tutorials demonstrated ways of improving research methods.

In the first departmental information literacy program established at Smith - Education - a student bibliography assessment experiment has just been concluded. After a library session students from EDC 340 were asked to submit five bibliographic references in an early stage of their research. The bibliographies were measured for five criteria that had been stressed in class such as currency, scholarship, use of standard databases, and format. After comments from librarian and faculty students completed research and submitted a revised bibliography as part of their paper. Data indicated significant improvement as a result of class and even more improvement as a result of after-class intervention.

April, 2007

Philosophy and Engineering became the seventh and eighth departments to endorse formal Information Literacy programs. Engineering becomes the second Division 3 department with such a program, joining Psychology. Discussions continue with several other Division 3 departments.

February, 2007

The Classics Department became the sixth Smith department to formally adopt an information literacy program for its majors. The program articulates skills to be learned in 100, 200, & 300 level classes.

2006 News & Events

November 2006

The German Department became the fifth Smith department to formally adopt an information literacy program for its majors. In anticipation of the program's launch supplementary reference materials were purchased and two classes were taught as per the program's instructions.

Summer 2006

Based on advice from faculty and observations of librarians Information Literacy Team revises and expands Writing Intensive Quiz with an eye to enhancing instruction on the ethical use of information.

June 2006

Information Literacy Team launches two tools to help students learn about plagiarism, the Plagiarism Challenge (Holly Davis, Joacobson Center) and How to Recognize Plagiarism (Indiana University).

May 2006

Two more departments English and Psychology approve Information Literacy Program statements. Discussions over the summer and early fall will continue with the following departments: African American Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Art/Architecture, Biology, Classics, Computer Science, Dance, East Asian Language & Literature, Engineering, German, History, Landscape Studies, Philosophy, Physics, Sociology, and Spanish/Portuguese.

April 2006

During the 2005/06 academic year the Writing Intensive Quiz was taken 1,075 times – sometimes as many as three times by the same person. As students reviewed the answers to missed questions they almost always learned and improved their comprehension of the skills being taught as reflected by higher test scores in succeeding attempts.

January 2006

Second Smith Information Literacy Program announced. The Department of Italian Language & Literature has targeted two 200 level and two 300 level courses as core and advanced information literacy classes for Italian majors. Discussion on the content and assessment of these classes will continue over the spring with an eye to launching the program in September, 2006.

Information Literacy Team mounts How Do I Detect Plagiarism page on Information Literacy website.

2005 News & Events

December 2005

WRITING INTENSIVE QUIZ RESULTS - During the fall term the Writing Intensive Quiz is taken 885 times. Students who repeat the quiz a second and/or third time not surprisingly show marked improvement in their understanding of basic research skills. The quiz will be offered to students in writing intensive classes during the spring term and will then be revised for fall, 2006 based on student, faculty, and librarian observations.

September 2005

RESEARCH SKILLS QUIZ FOR ALL WRITING INTENSIVE COURSE STUDENTS - To assist all students at Smith in learning basic research skills the Information Literacy Team has launched a Blackboard site - LIB 105, Research Skills for Students. This site is not a separate course. It simply contains a five-question quiz to be taken by all students enrolled in writing intensive classes at Smith.

Although designed to be self-administered at any time during the term, this quiz will be most useful if taken after a library session or after its contents are discussed by the course instructor in class. Issues covered include academic integrity, citation style help, the nature of scholarly literature, web search alternatives, and ways to evaluate a web page. The quiz may be taken as many times as necessary until each student can score 100%. Full explanations for each answer are provided.

Fall 2005

During the fall term of 2005 discussion of information literacy in the curriculum will begin with eight new departments representing all three Smith divisions: Anthropology, Classics, Engineering, English, History, Italian, Landscape Studies, and Sociology. Plans continue for information literacy in Art, Education, Philosophy, & Psychology.

May 2005

Information Literacy Team develops Smith College Honors Project Information Literacy Checklist. This checklist describes many of the concepts and techniques stressed in the required research appointment for writers of Smith honors projects.

April 2005

Information Literacy Team member, Barbara Polowy, presented "Working Well With Others: Collaborating With Faculty in Developing Information Literacy Programs" at the Art Libraries Society of North America Conference, Houston, Texas.

“My presentation described the first steps in developing and implementing an information literacy program at Smith College. It covered how the library staff has worked with the faculty and college administration as well as our information technology colleagues to establish and promote adoption of information literacy objectives across the college curriculum.”

The Smith College Education Department in collaboration with library liaison, Robin Kinder, has collaborated in creating an information literacy program for Education majors at Smith. The program will encourage students to learn and practice various skills in four undergraduate classes as well as one course taught at the graduate level.

For the first time students will be asked to evaluate their perceptions of their information literacy skills in the Smith 2005 Enrolled Student Survey.

March 2005

On March 23, 2005 the Smith College faculty adopted language describing Smith College Writing Intensive classes to have (among others) the following objectives:

    * when appropriate, to identify and to evaluate suitable primary and secondary sources for scholarly work, demonstrating awareness of library catalogues and databases and of the values and limitations of internet resources
    * to incorporate the work of others (by quotation, summary, or paraphrase) concisely, effectively, and with attention to the models of citation of the various disciplines and with respect for academic integrity

2004 News & Events

Fall 2004

Discussions begin with four departments - Art, Education, Philosophy, and Psychology - about how information literacy can best be tailored to meet the needs of majors in each discipline.

May 2004

Information Literacy Team refines basic learning outcomes for all Smith College Writing Intensive Students whose classes participate in the Information Literacy Program.

Spring 2004

Information Literacy begins to replace conventional library instruction in selected classes.

March 2004

Five College Information Literacy Discussion List Debuts. FCInfoLit-L is a moderated discussion list devoted to information literacy and library instruction. Hosted by the Smith College Information Literacy Team in cooperation with the Five College Research, Instruction, & Outreach (RIO) Committee, this list is intended for librarians, archivists, library school students, or other instructors interested in information literacy who have an active affiliation with one of the Five Colleges - Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith College, or the University of Massachusetts.

To subscribe to FCInfoLit-L send the following message: "subscribe fcinfolit-l" to the following address: Leave the subject line of your message blank.

Others may want to subscribe to the national discussion list on information literacy, ILI-L; for details consult

January 30, 2004

Five College Libraries Better Teaching Workshop for Librarians hosted at Smith College.

2003 News & Events

November 21, 2003

Information Literacy Teaching Lunch, 12 noon, College Club, lower level.

September 2003

In a few writing intensive classes assignments stressing information literacy skills begin to be developed in collaboration among faculty, librarians, Jacobson Center staff, et al.

Smith College Libraries Information Literacy Team formed to develop a formal Information Literacy program. Initial membership includes: Rocco Piccinino, Barbara Polowy, Bruce Sajdak (Chair), and Pamela Skinner.

May 2003

Information literacy training for writing intensive class faculty will be held on May 22nd. Discussions with chairs of departments will begin to determine each department's information literacy needs.

March 2003

Based on the committee report and on later discussions with faculty and Jacobson Center staff the Provost reported at the March Faculty meeting that a two-tiered program of Information Literacy would begin in the fall term. See a summary of the Provost's Report on Information Literacy.

January 2003

Committee issues report to CAP recommending a two-tiered information literacy program at Smith College

2002 News & Events

Fall 2002

At the request of the Committee on Academic Priorities a committee of 3 faculty, 3 librarians, and a representative from ITS met in the fall of 2002 to recommend a strategy for incorporating information literacy into the curriculum. The need for such an integration was based upon faculty dissatisfaction with students' selection of inappropriate materials for academic work and librarians' perceptions of a sea change in students' information seeking behavior - i.e. the use of web search engines as the primary - often only - method of gathering data.

The Provost's Report on Information Literacy summarizes the committee's findings as refined in further discussions during the Spring of 2003.

September 2002

Information Literacy Subcommittee of CAP meets for the first time. Committee is composed of three faculty - Barbara Kellum (co-chair), Fiona Griffiths, Donna Riley, three librarians - Bruce Sajdak (co-chair), Barbara Polowy, Rocco Piccinino, and an Information Technology Services representative, Pat Billingsley.

January 2002

As a result of faculty comments and their own observations of changed student information gathering behavior a committee of teaching librarians recommends to Library Director that the need for an information literacy program be communicated to the Committee on Academic Priorities