Improving Students' Web Use and Information Literacy: A Guide for Teachers and Teacher Librarians

Sarah McNicol (Researcher)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 19 July 2011




McNicol, S. (2011), "Improving Students' Web Use and Information Literacy: A Guide for Teachers and Teacher Librarians", New Library World, Vol. 112 No. 7/8, pp. 385-386.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

In most cases, the school librarian is the only information professional within a school. As such, they should be leading the way in the effective use of the internet and the development of the literacy skills students require to make the best possible use of the web. This means that school librarians today need to constantly update and expand their own skills and knowledge. This short, guide by James Herring aims to change both school students and staff from web users to web learners.

One of the most interesting features of the book is that it starts by examining the skills and abilities of teachers and teacher librarians themselves and seeks to develop their skills as web users and, in particular, web searchers. As Herring points out, if school staff lack expertise in web use, they are unlikely to be able to improve their students' use of the web. After examining search skills, there is a chapter devoted to web site evaluation. This is useful because it considers the issue in the context of a school environment, suggesting a number of important educational criteria such as the reading levels of students and the scope for differentiation. This first section of Improving Students' Web Use and Information Literacy also has chapters devoted to the use of Web 2.0 in schools and the theory and practice of information literacy.

The second part of the book focuses on developing students as reflective users of information, especially the web. The first chapter in this section is devoted to information literacy skills teaching and provides examples of effective teaching resources from libraries around the world. The following two chapters explore the creation of learning web sites, which can be developed by library staff to meet the needs of particular groups of students and connect learning resources to subjects being studied. The final chapter looks ahead to future developments in the web and in the role of teachers and librarians.

This book is well laid out and clearly written. At the start of each chapter, there is a list of learning objectives setting out the material to be covered. Another strength is the range of practical examples provided, demonstrating how librarians from across the world have developed resources and approaches to improve their students' web use and information literacy. There are also a number of outlines for staff training sessions. The only weakness of the book is that some of the details about web tools and resources already need to be updated, for example, the introduction of Google instant previews. However, this is inevitable given the pace of web development.

Many books about school librarianship and information literacy are written at a fairly basic level. This book, however, would be a valuable resource for more experienced library staff and teachers. It deals with the current development of the web in schools in a more in depth way and suggests novel approaches and solutions, which are effectively underpinned by theory and research. I would recommend this book to librarians, teachers and school managers who want to ensure their students have the information skills they will need in today's society.

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