June 03, 2016

Information Now! "Graphic Textbook" for Info. Literacy

Book cover
Information Now: A Graphic Guide to Student Research by Matt Upson, C. Michael Hall, and Kevin Cannon is a terrific addition to the tools I use to teach students how to do online research.

I love it for two reasons:
  1. It's graphic, cute, and trendy ...
  2. It's accurate, thorough, and humorous.
Here are some specifics of what I love about the book:
  • The librarian uses chairs to illustrate why subject headings can be helpful -- adding that chairs are also seats, and are within the category of "furniture."
  • Chairs, p. 34
  • She illustrates Boolean operators with Venn diagrams, by talking about a search for Pirates (no, not the Pittsburgh Pirates), ships (no, not a UPS truck), and history: 
History of Pirate Ships, p. 46
  • There's a whole chapter devoted to journals & databases, and I've used the 7-page discussion of popular, trade, and scholarly journals in classes with good results.
Journals, p. 55
  • The chapter on searching the web (including Wikipedia) is followed by a chapter on evaluating sources. The librarian offers the usual (to librarians) questions about authority, purpose, accuracy, relevance, and objectivity. Here's an illustration of a persuasive site:
    Persuasion, p. 86

  • The book concludes with a chapter on Using Information Ethically, which covers plagiarism and citations, as well as how to quote or paraphrase what you've read.
Paraphrasing, p. 92
I've used it with undergraduates in one-shot sessions -- asking them to read a chapter or two before class, and then discussing the content in class. I've also taught the book in an introductory reference class at UNC's School of Information and Library Science. Finally, I've had my student workers read chapters of the book as part of their training on what a library does -- so they can better help their fellow students from behind the reference desk. I will definitely continue all of these.

If you teach anyone to search for information, I recommend using this book as a supplement to instruction. It's terrific!

Bonus: the book succeeds at being relatively inclusive in its graphics (although the librarian does reflect the majority of U.S. librarians in her look and gender).
People Reading, p. 56

I must raise an ethical question of my own: is it ok for me to use so many photos of graphics used in the book? Chicago University Press can answer the question ... but in my defense, I...
  • took photos with my phone (i.e., lower quality) 
  • blurred out some of the text.
  • only used a tiny handful of graphics
AND since the illustrations are what make the book so great, no review would be complete without at least a few selected images.