Meeting them Halfway: You Tube for Information Literacy

Beth Hillemann and Aaron Albertson, Reference and Instruction Librarians, Macalester College

First year college students are used to gathering information through resources such as YouTube and Google. They need to learn about the approach scholars take to disciplinary inquiry. We designed a standardized session that asked students to critically evaluate a message conveyed through a YouTube video. In the session, they used library and network resources to produce a short bibliography of academic articles and books on the topic.

library ITs First Year Sessions

All different courses – econ., chem,


Hard to put in context

Not every course had library research, not always at time of assignment

Involving more IT skills

Baseline assessment


Give students a common  experience, engage them (use YouTube for familiarity) , mimic scholarly work

Session components

  • Intro – goals
  • Lib – network intro
  • Student Scholars: Be critical
    • Blue Man Group video (mimics airline announcement – addresses global warming)
    • Who is having these conversations? – discuss places – Google
    • Find evidence (Where to go?)
      • Google, Wikipedia – students also mentioned JStor, ASP
      • Intro resources -Lib website, catalog, database
    • Worksheet
      • Group them by twos
      • Very structured
        • Section 1 – Cover Catalog, how to search, how to request items, subject terms
        • Section 2 – Had to think of themselves as scholars in specific discipline
          • upload bibliography of what they found
          • Activity: assume a discipline and brainstorm in a group where you would look

Goals met?

  • Easier to schedule and less prep
  • Teachers less familiar with instruction were more comfortable
  • Students were engaged
  • Met baseline goals, begins with”The information literate student…”
    • can determine nature and extent of info needed
    • efficient and effective informatin gathering
    • evaulated information and sources critically and incorporate know. base and value system


  • Discussion
    • more critical of Google and Wikipedia than expected
    • inventive and interesting sources sought (art exhibits)
  • Hands on resources
    • Both Library and IT were more comfortable
  • Less difficult
  • Students liked it, so did faculty

Question: What do you do to facilitate discussion?

A: Developed Tip Sheet to deal with lack of participation, graduated questions.

Lessons Learned

Streamline so that discipline portion can happen (60 minutes)

Discussion is critical 

Include Refworks for 90 minutes

New Video and topic (should include broad topic and key argument)

Q: Formal Assessment?

A: Yes, will do another in the spring, but mostly informal.

Q: Did faculty attend?

A: Yes, strongly encouraged by Library.

Q: Do you see more students because of session (removing “mystique of librarian” because of non-judgmental presentation)

A: No formal numbers, but consultations have gone up in last couple of years. At orientation, introduced selves as Liaison librarians even to parents to emphasize that they are here for students.

Q: How do get class time.

A: Part of 12 year program which has “trained” faculty. All first year courses must have library component.


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