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Focus On: Jorden Smith

May 1, 2013

Highlighting research by members of the Canadian library and information management community.

Public Services Librarian, University of Alberta Libraries

Photo of Jorden Smith

What is your research topic?

My research projects generally focus on information literacy (IL), including two current projects involving undergraduate researchers and pre-service teachers. I am working with the University of Alberta’s Undergraduate Research Initiative to examine how undergraduate researchers find the information they need for all aspects of the research process as a means to explore ways the library can provide effective support.

I am also undertaking a project with a former colleague in Education where we are evaluating how pre-service teachers find the information and images necessary to inform and present a digital Canadian historical narrative presented from an Aboriginal or French-Canadian perspective.

What interested you in that topic?

What really got me into information literacy was my experience teaching junior high Social Studies. Information literacy permeates the curriculum and inquiry-based projects and provides engaging learning opportunities, but it was a struggle to find ways to offer meaningful and differentiated IL instruction in a classroom. I had a student write a report on Russian worldviews but she used a 1962 World Book Encyclopedia as her source, and it was an eye-opening moment for me. Many of the students had little-to-no experience locating, accessing, and using information for academic purposes, so the notion of currency did not factor into this student’s choice of resource. During library school I opted to do a thesis which gave me the opportunity to explore some of the questions that arose during my teaching experience. It continues to be a focal point for me and a source of continued interest.

What impact would you like to see your research have on LIS practitioners?

I hope it helps others develop informed practices and studies. I’ve learned so much from the work of other LIS professionals. Ultimately, I hope it encourages others to pursue the questions that intrigue them.

What emerging topics do you foresee in the future of LIS research?

Where to start!? There are so many interesting questions and means of exploring them. In the future, I think there will be greater use of visual, narrative, and community-based research methods within LIS. What I really hope to see is a study of the correlation between librarian cardigan-wearing and perceptions of cognitive authority.

What advice would you give to LIS students or practitioners hoping to engage in research?

When you have a question that excites you, pursue it. It may be a tough slog at times but it is worth the effort. Finding a great collaborator goes a long way. I’ve been very lucky and have worked with wonderful people who’ve made my research experiences all the more rewarding.

Select Bibliography

Smith, Jorden, Kathleen DeLong, Lisa Given, Heidi Julien, and Dana Ouellette. 2013. “Information Literacy Proficiency: Assessing the Gap in High School Students’ Readiness for Undergraduate Academic Work.” Library and Information Science Research 35 (2): 88-96. doi: 10.1016/j.lisr.2012.12.001

Smith, Jorden. “Secondary Teachers and Information Literacy (IL): Their Understanding and Perceptions of IL within their Classrooms.” Library and Information Science Research (Forthcoming, 2013).

Smith, Jorden. “Examining Secondary School Teacher Understanding of Information Literacy.” Master’s thesis, University of Alberta, 2011. ProQuest (MR89937).

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