Provost's Report

Information Literacy at Smith College

Information literate students have the ability to define the kind of information they need and then locate, evaluate, and use it efficiently and ethically. Among other skills they should be able to:

  • identify the purpose and audience of potential resources (e.g., popular vs. scholarly, current vs. historical, or advocacy vs. dispassionate discussion)
  • understand the correct use and severe limitations of web search engines in scholarly research
  • know how to locate and select the most reliable electronic and print resources for research in an academic discipline - i.e.
  • examine and compare information from various sources to evaluate reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias
  • avoid plagiarism by giving proper recognition to sources of information through the use of an appropriate citation format

Committee Recommendations

As a result of committee deliberations and later discussions a two-tiered approach to integrating information literacy into the Smith curriculum is recommended.

  • Through collaboration among teaching faculty, librarians, and Jacobson Center staff, develop appropriate assignments that will introduce students to basic information literacy skills initially through existing writing intensive classes.
  • Determine more advanced skills particular to each discipline by departmental collaboration with librarians and other appropriate staff. Each discussion should result in both the articulation of skills needed and the suggested courses in which each department expects students to learn those skills

2003-2004 Focus

As a first step in 2003-2004 the effort for developing basic information literacy skills will be made through writing intensive classes. In May workshops for writing intensive faculty will present ways of designing assignments and using available support to incorporate information literacy into a class. For advanced skill development library staff will initiate discussions with departmental chairs to determine each department's own needs and assess how best to meet them.