December 31st, 2010

Doing it: Medlibs and Transliteracy

I freely admit I had never heard the term ‘transliteracy’ until my RSS feed exploded with it this month.

My bad for not being aware of/following Libraries and Transliteracy… or not? Where are medical and other librarians in their “This topic is important to all types of libraries so we have authors from public, university, college and school libraries for a broad perspective” About section?

From my view, there is no broad perspective in a discussion about all types of literacies without the very pervasive and real challenges of health literacy (not listed among the categories) when 83% of Internet users are looking for health information online. One intro post did not show me how transliteracy is specific to medical librarians.

As far as the RSS feed went, the most ruckus was related to David Rothman’s first (Commensurable Nonsense (Transliteracy)) and second (Followup: Transliteracy, Theory and Scholarly Language) posts which were mostly in response to blogs I don’t follow so I really appreciate both them and their comment threads. I rely heavily on insightful coverage since I can’t follow every active blog in the numerous fields I am interested in and get my own work done.

Marcus Banks with Transliteracy, Information Literacy, et. al offers ‘transliteracy, as a concept, is an attempt to label what we are already doing–linking up traditional notions of authority with the realities of how people obtain information today.” I also like that he uses the term ‘hooha’, which is one of my favorites to describe hype (in his case ‘2.0’ concepts) too.

Dean Giustini in Where do you stand on transliteracy? helpfully offers perspectives emphasizing a solid understanding of learning theories. I agree these are important if we are to be effective instructors/teachers/guides to information, and am puzzled why library school does not usually spend much (if any) time on them. He has also started a Transliteracy for librarians section on the HLWIKI.

How does all this (and more, I’m sure) come across to those outside the library field?

From the Transliteracy Research Group – The Whole Elephant: librarians arguing about transliteracy

Like it or not that is a valid perception. Is this really what librarians want to offer to a current conversation spanning multiple fields? Does this advocate for our professionalism or bring us back to being bitchbrarians?

My perspective on the issue of transliteracy, from my limited time spent reading about it, is the same as the ruckus about PubMed changes in 2009.

Channels for information access always have been and always will continue changing in response to available technology, usability, audiences, and a myriad of other factors.

It is our job to stay on top of information channels to the best of our time and ability, with resources we can obtain and already have available,  take the time to study and understand them, have a solid grounding in usability and leaning theories, then offer instruction in response to our users’ information needs (which we know from real assessment, not guesstimates) involving them and not simply emulate how things are done at Peer Institution Over There or As Written In This Book Here. I don’t particularly care what you call this process so long as you actually do it.

Let’s focus on the positive as we enter a new year: What are some recent examples from blogs of medical librarians who are doing it?

Alisha Miles offered a detailed post from her experience as a solo hospital librarian about the use of an iPad (even though she is not personally that fond of Apple) for library outreach and teaching physicians.

Patricia Anderson accomplished the daunting task of organizing and presenting the actual ‘Lessons Learned’ from a hashtag chat on Twitter involving health care social media (#HCSM) on December 13th and described her methods used in doing so. From my own biased perspective (#healthlit), librarian involvement in Twitter hashtag chats is an immediate & effective way to have the information resources and organization skills you bring noticed and valued by those outside the library field.

Carol Perryman reflects on her upcoming instruction about consumer health (I’m sure you’ll do great!) with reflections on being transparent and focusing on evidence-based practice with

  • not making truth claims
  • being ready to be wrong
  • being ready to be unsure
  • being ready to base my work and claims on best practices
  • being capable and willing to assess outcomes, acknowledging my own tendency to bias

That’s what I try to do both here in my writing and in my work.

What others do you know of? May you all be successful in doing it in 2011!

Posted at 11 39 AM | 4 Comments » | print this post

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4 Responses to “Doing it: Medlibs and Transliteracy”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dean Giustini. Dean Giustini said: @eagledawg Medical librarians & #transliteracy http://bit.ly/e5CvUT (Well done, Nikki) Happy new year to all, and all the best for 2011 […]

  2. marie says:

    nice post!

  3. […] alert! I just want to draw your attention to a recent blog post by Nikki Dettmar on the subject of the concept of transliteracy. I had recently read the very useful […]

  4. Alisha says:

    Excellent! You put what I was trying to say very succinctly. The topic is very interesting, and as it has been noted on other blogs many beginnings have a rough start. Whether what I am currently doing is ‘transliteracy’ or if ‘transliteracy’ will even develop into a known and used term is not as important as actually accomplishing the task I described. This was my point as well– to not allow semantics to interfere with process.

    Again, great post.

    ~Alisha

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