Information literacy in the humanities
Engaging students with primary sources and cultural heritage material
Keywords:information literacy, humanities, cultural heritage material
Many university libraries hold cultural heritage collections that are unknown to the majority of students. The digitisation of these collections offers new ways of working with primary sources, and with it, an increasing interest in archives and older collections. This development has made us reflect on our information literacy classes within the humanities. Are we too influenced by the STEM and social science interpretations of information literacy and their focus on the peer-reviewed article? We want to challenge this view and discuss what a humanities approach to information literacy could incorporate.
We want to invite you to a discussion on how we can integrate archival material and other primary sources into our classes, thus broadening mainstream information literacy to include primary source literacy (see ACRL’s Guidelines for primary source literacy, 2018). Our understanding is that this topic is generally not discussed at Nordic information literacy conferences, and our literature review indicates that this field is mostly addressed by special collections librarians and archivists (Hauck & Robinson, 2018; Hubbard & Lotts, 2013; Samuelson & Coker, 2014). In addition, in digital humanities pedagogy, there is need for reflection on data or sources beyond “tool-based thinking” which this approach would open up for (Giannetti, 2017).
We will share two examples of how we have engaged students with primary sources and discuss the pedagogical challenges and opportunities. Our aim has been to go beyond show and tell and let the students actively work with primary sources. One example, from the Master’s Program in Digital Humanities, involved working with digitised sources using the platform Omeka. In the other, first year students from the Department of Conservation explored primary sources from the Gothenburg Exhibition held in 1923.
Hopefully, this round table can be a stepping-stone for forming a network where we continue to share our experiences.
Association of College and Research Libraries' Rare Book and Manuscript Section, & Society of American Archivists. (2018). Guidelines for primary source literacy. Retrieved 16 September 2019, from http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/standards/Primary%20Source%20Literacy2018.pdf
Giannetti, F. (2017). Against the grain: Reading for the challenges of collaborative digital humanities pedagogy. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 24(2-4), 257-269. https://doi.org/10.1080/10691316.2017.1340217
Hauck, J., & Robinson, M. (2018). Of primary importance: Applying the new literacy guidelines. Reference Services Review, 46(2), 217-241. https://doi.org/10.1108/RSR-03-2018-0025
Hubbard, M. A., & Lotts, M. (2013). Special collections, primary resources, and information literacy pedagogy. Communications in Information Literacy, 7(1), 24-38. http://doi.org/10.15760/comminfolit.2013.7.1.132
Samuelson, T., & Coker, C. (2014). Mind the gap: Integrating special collections teaching. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 14(1), 51-66. https://doi.org/10.1353/pla.2013.0041
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).