• Home
  • Agenda & Speakers
  • Discussion Panels
  • Information Literacy through the Lens of the Student Experience

Information Literacy through the Lens of the Student Experience

Session Chair:

Vanessa D. Middleton

Head Librarian
Petroleum institute, AbuDhabi, UAE

Vanessa Middleton: currently serves as The Head Librarian of Petroleum Institute Libraries in The United Arab Emirates. She earned her undergraduate degree in accounting from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA. She received her Master of Library and Information Science degree from the Wayne State University, USA. Vanessa has over 15 years of experience working in academic, public and special libraries including Wayne State University, Ford Motor Company, Detroit and Kalamazoo Public Libraries. Before joining Petroleum Institute, she was The Research & Instructor Coordinator at The American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. She has served as lecturer at American University in the Emirates’ Library & Information Science. Her research interests include comparative international librarianship, information literacy and online learning communities. She is a member of the Association of College and Research Libraries, Gulf Information Literacy Network Steering Committee. Vanessa is enthusiastic about empowering students in emerging nations to become 21st century engineers.

Panel Speakers and Presentations:

Presentation Title

Moving into the Liminal Space: Thinking Conceptually about Information Literacy
By Lori Townsend and Amy Hofer


Amy R. Hofer is the Distance Learning Librarian at Portland State University. She received her MLIS from San Jose State University and her B.A. from Brown University. She has taught information literacy to a variety of populations since 2007 and applies the threshold concepts approach developed with her coauthors to the fully online credit course that she currently teaches.

Lori Townsend is the Learning Services Coordinator at the University of New Mexico. She received her MLIS from San Jose State University and her B.A. from the University of New Mexico (UNM). She has taught information literacy for seven years. In her new position as learning services coordinator, she hopes to lead the UNM University Libraries in building an online curriculum informed by the threshold concepts approach.

Presentation Abstract

What do we teach when we teach information literacy? The ACRL Standards have guided our thinking on this question for over a decade. Now the Standards are being revised, with a shift to embrace conceptual knowledge in information literacy, making explicit the links with critical thinking, lifelong learning, and various emerging literacies. Here we discuss information literacy as a network of interconnected understandings, supported by skills, dispositions, and processes that enable students to adeptly navigate an increasingly complex information landscape. These understandings can be characterized as “big ideas” or “threshold concepts” but, put most simply, represent the unique content that librarians teach. If we are to help students move through these understandings, we must reach beyond the one-shot model of instruction and partner with faculty to embed these concepts in the disciplines or even develop our own credit-based programs.

Presentation Title:

Changing the Landscape of Information Literacy
By Jon Jeffryes

Presentation Abstract:

This talk will explore the speaker’s evolving approach to teaching information literacy. Jeffryes will discuss his research of students’ information use in workplace settings to expand the coverage of literature types covered in information literacy instruction along with his experience adapting instruction opportunities to move beyond showing students how to search article databases to incorporate information literacy into areas such as soft skills development (teamwork skills, project management) and data management. The presentation will discuss techniques for learning the information needs of users and provide examples of changing approaches to incorporate information literacy skills in a strategic and meaningful way. The presentation will provide attendees with ideas to take back to their institution to re-engage with information literacy instruction from new angles.


Jon Jeffryes

Engineering Librarian at University of Minnesota

Jeffrayes has been a librarian at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities since the summer of 2008. I'm the subject liaison to four engineering departments, Biomedical Engineering,Civil Engineering, Industrial Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering and in charge of the Standards Collection in the Science & Engineering Library. My areas of interest are information literacy and instruction. I'm especially interested in the creation of online learning objects and the use of Web 2.0 technologies for instructional purposes. I'm also interested in citation managers including RefWorks, EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero; and their ability to supplement and enhance research and instruction.


MA-LIS from the University of Wisconsin--Madison, 2006
B.A. in English from Grinnell College, 2003


Presentation Title

Information Literacy and EFL Learning Communities
By Nicole Johnston

Presentation Abstract:

Understanding the information literacy experiences of EFL (English as a Foreign Language) students, This presentation explores how EFL (English as a Foreign Language) students’ experience information literacy and how understandings of EFL students’ varying experiences of information and learning can be used to inform the development of information literacy curriculum in classrooms where students speak English as a second language. This presentation is based on research conducted in a higher education institution in the United Arab Emirates. EFL students experienced information literacy in four qualitatively different ways: process, quality, language and knowledge and had varying experiences of information and learning. EFL students faced barriers to accessing information in local contexts and in their own language. EFL students also faced challenges when reading text in English, when translating between two languages and with understanding the meaning and context of information in English. This research has revealed that EFL students apply various techniques when they read, understand, organise and translate information. While these techniques are often teacher directed, EFL students often adapted these techniques to suit their own learning styles. The findings from this research offer an important contribution to information literacy practice by providing important insights about EFL students’ experiences and perceptions of information and learning that can be used to inform curriculum development.


Nicole Johnston is a lecturer at University College London in Qatar. She has previously worked as a librarian and English teacher in the UAE, Australia, Ireland and Japan. She has a Masters of Library and Information Science degree and her PhD research is about information literacy and EFL students.

2014 Conference Partners & Sponsors