rusq: Vol. 52 Issue 4: p. 344
Sources: The Busy Librarian’s Guide to Information Literacy in Science and Engineering
James Bierman

Engineering Librarian, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

Although research is a fundamental component of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, teaching faculty and program directors may find it difficult to add research skills and information literacy to their already packed curricula. In The Busy Librarian’s Guide to Information Literacy in Science and Engineering, the development and execution of robust information literacy programming begins with the alignment of information literacy standards with discipline-specific standards for performance and learning outcomes. Through this framework, the librarian is equipped to demonstrate to the teaching faculty how information literacy may be integrated into the curriculum and leverage those guidelines to design instruction activities that make a meaningful contribution to performance criteria enumerated within the discipline’s own standards. At a svelte 143 pages, the authors provide an efficient, accessible treatment of the theme in a variety of real-world contexts.

Eight chapters guide the reader through information literacy standards for several disciplines, including chemistry, life and health sciences, engineering, and human nutrition, each featuring unique contributors. In addition to these discipline-specific chapters, chapter 6 covers intellectual property and patents, chapter 7 covers interdisciplinary research through the lens of remote sensing, and chapter 8 considers information literacy standards for community colleges. Common among the chapters is the application of the ALA/ACRL/STS Task Force on Information Literacy for Science and Technology’s 2006 Information Literacy Standards for Science and Engineering/Technology (hereafter referred to simply as “Standards”) to the subject matter. For example, chapter 2 provides examples of how the Standards have been matched to criteria set forth by ABET, formerly known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Those shared performance indicators and learning outcomes can then be used as starting points for the design of a one-shot instruction session or the development of new programming that integrates information literacy into the curriculum. This standards-based methodology should be a priority to anyone considering purchasing this title, as the sections account for roughly half of the page count.

Although the opening chapters are targeted to specific areas of librarianship, such as engineering, chemistry, or health sciences, the subject-specific content is of the introductory variety. In other words, the chemistry librarian with any amount of experience may not discover new reference works, society publishers, or databases in his or her respective area. However, the authors have succeeded in gathering a variety of core resources that will aid the newly minted subject librarian or the librarian simply looking to improve his or her subject agility, a worthy endeavor in this landscape of merging disciplines.

In addition to discussions of standards and core resources, each contributor offers practical research instruction advice, along with several example questions, assignments, and lesson plans. Unlike the standards and core resources, these sections are not necessarily discipline-specific. A few examples include a section on evidence-based assessment in the engineering chapter, strategies for building relationships with teaching faculty in the life and health sciences chapter, and example lesson plans in the interdisciplinary science course chapter. These parcels of general guidance found throughout the book reward the reader for visiting sections outside their immediate interest, making The Busy Librarian’s Guide to Information Literacy in Science and Engineering recommended reading for any instruction librarian engaging with students and faculty in the pure and applied sciences.

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