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LOEX Reflections (Part 2)

by Ana Hernandez on 2024-06-17T12:51:32-05:00 | 0 Comments

This post continues upon a previous blog post about the May 2024 LOEX conference in Naperville, IL. This conference focuses on instruction librarianship in colleges and universities. The theme for this year was “Branching Out: Growing and Adapting your Information Literacy Practice.” The majority of the presentation slides are now available on the LOEX website and linked in this and the previous post. 

On Saturday I started with Cultivating an Inclusive Garden: DEI Engagement and Outreach on Display in Academic Libraries (slides) by Alex Boris, the Commons Librarian from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Amanda Breu, the Head of Access Services & Media Librarian from the University of St. Cloud State University, and Molly Olney-Zine, Instruction and Outreach Librarian at the University of Delaware.

This presentation focused on the potential of book/media displays to progress diversity, equity, and inclusion. They discussed the ability of displays to improve circulation rate, reduce information overwhelm, promote inclusion, cultivate partnerships, and mimic successful approaches popular among booksellers. 

Breu described their work updating multiple displays around their libraries monthly. They used the Alma collections feature to create digital book displays and provided QR codes visible on the physical display to route patrons to the online catalog. The most popular displays at Breu’s library were “Banned Books, Horror/Thrillers, and Graphic Novels.” 

Olney-Zine created a partnership with Student Diversity and Inclusion to create student-led displays. This expanded into more partnerships with other student groups and to online displays and exhibits. The library featured displays for Women’s History Month, Asian Pacific Islander and Desi American Heritage Month, and Autism Inclusion. Part of their assessment of success was whiteboard engagement, as they placed a whiteboard near the display for students to give comments, suggestions, and responses to prompts. 

Boris conducted a diversity audit of her library’s collection and found it lacking significantly in culturally diverse, inclusive, and intersectional books. Slowly, she made intentional purchases that made the production of inclusive displays easier. She stressed the importance of creativity and decor in drawing student’s eyes to the books. Her team produced reader advisory brochures to accompany the displays that gave recommendations in different genres, which all included a wide range of perspectives, as well as bookmarks with the QR code to request acquisitions. 

Next, I attended Generative AI: Teaching Students the Applications, Risks, Best Practices, and Alternatives (slides) by Tracy Coyne, the Distance Learning and Professional Studies Librarian, at Northwestern University.

Coyne has facilitated student workshops on understanding and responsibly utilizing GAI.  She utilized Ethan Mollick’s definition of generative AI as  “a word completion tool,” that predicts “what the next word in a sentence should be so it can write a paragraph for you, what an image should look like based on a prompt.” She outlined that students may use GAI to write emails, generate ideas, get an overview of a topic, translate text, and seek improvements to their writing. She mentioned Elicit, Consensus, and Research Rabbit as rising tools in generative AI research.

She described the positives of GAI, including “natural language prompts, remembers whole conversations, brainstorming, generates keywords” and other helpful features that speed up repetitive tasks, arrangement, and starting points for writing. The negatives and limitations are troubling, including “incorrect answers (“hallucinations”), false citations, outdated content, plagiarism and copyright infringement, labor, privacy” and a lack of critical thinking and the presence of human biases. The effects of biases create notoriously racist, sexist, and prejudiced outcomes. Coyne showcased the AI-generated response to “toys in Iraq” as photos of toy soldiers with guns, as featured in the Washington Post

Her lessons suggested the use of the C.L.E.A.R method to write prompts, which stands for Concise, Logical, Explicit, Adaptive, and Reflective. Students were taught to evaluate information for authority, purpose, accuracy, and bias. The lessons also worked to better familiarize students with the library resources to show them how their databases can lead them to more accurate information with ease. She suggested using GAI to generate boolean searches that are then used in library searching. 

I then attended Seeding Success: Growing Information Literacy through Curriculum Integration by Scott Schumate, Coordinator of Resource Management and Digital Services, and Jenny Harris, Assessment and Information Literacy Librarian, both from Austin Peay State University.

These librarians are embarking on two separate credit-bearing library courses: LIBR 2001: Empowering Information Seekers in the Digital Age and LIBR 2400: Ethical and Responsible Use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Like many librarians throughout the conference, they reiterated the difficulties and limitations of “one-shot” library instruction. As teachers, the librarians can’t create ongoing relationships with the students in the same way that they are able to in semester-long classes. This allows them the privilege of memory regarding where the student’s understanding is and where it can progress to. 

One of the activities practiced in Schmate’s class stood out to me as an especially useful tool in comprehending GAI. The students were all given a paper that was written by ChatGPT and told to grade it. Reversing the classroom in this way puts students in the position to think critically about the quality of a generated essay. It also prompted the students to conduct the research themselves to find the missing sources for any claims made in the essay. 

This experience was enriching and inspiring. I look forward to creating my own research as I progress in my career. The academic library field is in an interesting transition period, particularly regarding artificial intelligence. As the field adjusts to the changes in how the scholarly community relates to information systems, it is inspiring to see so many passionate and talented librarians working to help students reach their fullest potential.

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