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Clarence Maybee, Information Literacy Specialist, Purdue University Libraries

Clarence Maybee, Information Literacy Specialist, Purdue University Libraries

Over the last few years, the U.S. government, as well as governments in various states, have commemorated October as Information Literacy Awareness month. This October, Purdue University Libraries continues the tradition with our own celebration of the importance of information literacy through “Inform Purdue,” a social media campaign that will share Purdue faculty members’ and students’ own stories of teaching and learning about information literacy and how it helps them accomplish their educational and professional goals. All content will be posted on Purdue Libraries’ various social media feeds (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram) over the next few weeks.

“It is extremely challenging to navigate and make sense of the information we need to make good decisions in today’s information environment,” notes Purdue University Libraries Associate Professor and Information Literacy Specialist Clarence Maybee. “That is true if one is deciding which history journals to use to research a topic for class, purchasing a new car, or presenting to the boss on a new direction the company should embark upon.”

At Purdue, this challenging navigation is where Maybee and his fellow colleagues at Purdue Libraries come in to steer learners onto the path of finding, evaluating, interpreting, and applying information to solve problems and construct new meanings.

First up in the multi-week campaign is a short video featuring Nancy Peleaz, associate professor in the Purdue University Department of Biological Sciences. But before you watch the video, take a moment to read–via the brief Q&A below–more about Dr. Maybee’s role as Purdue’s information literacy specialist, as well as the other ways Purdue Libraries personnel contribute to information literacy and learning at Purdue.

Q. Tell me a bit about your role as the information literacy specialist at Purdue University Libraries, e.g., what kinds of responsibilities do you have in this position in regard to: Purdue students? Purdue faculty? other Purdue Libraries users?

Maybee: I have the best job at Purdue! I work with Libraries faculty and staff to address the challenges students often face in this era, one in which they are inundated with an excess of information. We meet with students in their courses and teach them how to use information critically to complete their assignments. We also work regularly with Purdue instructors to develop class activities and assignments in which students learn about using information as they engage with the course content. I also conduct information literacy research and use the findings to inform my teaching efforts at Purdue. I work with closely with Libraries faculty and staff to keep them abreast of advances in information literacy discussed in the field and to continue to develop our excellence in teaching.

Additionally, I lead the Libraries’ involvement in the Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation (IMPACT) program, in which Libraries faculty and staff work in teams with instructional developers and teachers to redesign courses to make them more student-centered. The Libraries faculty and staff involved in IMPACT work with teachers to help their students critically use information to learn in the active and dynamic environments that are the hallmark of IMPACT courses.

Q. Why is it important for the Purdue Libraries to have an information literacy specialist?

Maybee: There was a time when most of the information a student needed for class was handed out by the instructor or delivered via the instructor’s lecture. That is not true today—students may gather a wide variety of materials from online, or even collect first-hand information through interviews or observations. They need to be able to critically evaluate and analyze the information they are using to learn, inside and outside of the classroom. An information literacy specialist, through teaching and research, sheds light on the needs of the 21st century learner and offers pedagogic tools for enabling learners to navigate the complexity of today’s information landscape.

Q. How do you provide information literacy resources to Purdue, e.g., through particular programs, like IMPACT, or through other initiatives?

Maybee: The Purdue Libraries information literacy efforts align with the Purdue Moves initiative’s goal of creating Transformative Education, which emphasizes the development of innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Working with campus partners to create IMPACT is one of many efforts through which the Libraries is working to transform education.

Information literacy plays a big role in educational innovation, which often encourages learners to use information in new and challenging ways. Purdue Libraries personnel focus their information literacy efforts on teaching students to use information in the context of learning. Libraries faculty, who liaise with departments at Purdue, work with teachers to integrate information literacy into curricula. Many Libraries faculty and staff also work with other campus learning initiatives, such as partnering with The Graduate School to teach graduate students to use and manage data, or working with the office of Undergraduate Research to provide workshops for undergraduate researchers on different aspects of the research process and communicating as a scholar.

Q. Who else in Purdue Libraries provides information literacy resources for Purdue students and faculty?

Maybee: The Libraries faculty and staff at Purdue all endeavor to enable learners to find and critically use information for their coursework or other activities. The Libraries faculty who liaise with specific departments work very closely with those faculty and students. Libraries faculty and staff are also dedicated to teaching students and faculty at Purdue to use and manage data and take part in scholarly communication. Libraries faculty also serve on campus committees, such as the Undergraduate Curriculum Council (UCC), where our expertise is put to use to help ensure that information literacy is part of the student learning experience at Purdue.

That said, a few people in the Libraries have very specific roles in advancing information literacy on campus. For example, Rachel Fundator, the information literacy instruction designer, works to advance information literacy through the IMPACT program and on information literacy efforts across the Libraries. Michael Flierl, the learning design specialist, works closely with students in transition, such as first-year or international students, to enable them to use information to learn. Rachel, Michael, and I work as a team to inform the Libraries’ efforts to address the information literacy needs of faculty and students at Purdue.

Q. Any other important information to include about information literacy and its role in the information age?

Maybee: When people are learning, they are almost always using information. Purdue Libraries’ information literacy efforts aim to teach students to critically use information to learn and make informed decisions while at Purdue and in their lives after graduation.

Nancy Peleaz, Associate Professor, Purdue University Department of Biological Sciences


“Inform Purdue,” Purdue Libraries’ Information Literacy Social Media Campaign, to Launch Oct. 16