In the age of the Web and the instant gratification of Google, when information has never been easier to locate, the ability to find and recognize high-quality, accurate, and reliable information has never been more valuable.

Thanks to the Virginia Tech Information Literacy Collaboration Grant projects, funded by the University Libraries and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, many Virginia Tech students have improved their information literacy concepts and skills.

And 16 students had the opportunity to write a chapter in a book, Southern uncomfort: homicide in the Old Dominion, 1878-1937. Kathleen Jones, associate professor of history, had each of her students in her Fall 2005 section of History 4004, a senior seminar on murder in Virginia, research a murder case that dates back approximately 100 years

These students, working with Jones and librarian Bruce Pencek, pored through microfilms and old periodical indexes to complete their work. At the course’s end, Jones bound the individual papers into a book.

This was just one of five $5,000 grant projects funded in February 2005, with the projects to be carried out over the following year and a half. The funded projects employed innovative approaches to infusing information literacy concepts and skills--as listed in the Association of College & Research Libraries’ Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education,--in the curriculum of particular courses in the College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences.

In each of the projects, teaching faculty worked closely with a librarian to design and implement changes that would promote information literacy. The grantees subsequently presented the results of their work to the deans of University Libraries and the College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences at the end of the fall 2006 semester.

"The collaborative grants program between the library staff and the College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences faculty represented instructional innovation at its best," said Jerry Niles, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. "The practical and sustainable outcomes of these thoughtful, collaborative inquiries will benefit students for many semesters to come."

Libraries Dean Eileen Hitchingham hopes the grants program can be replicated in the future.

“We are interested in again partnering to match funds to repeat this program for other faculty and programs in the college,” Hitchingham said. “We will explore this option with the new dean of the college when he or she is appointed."

Other outcomes of the inaugural grants included:

• James Dubinsky and Mark Armstrong (English), working with librarian Caryl Gray, created an online research module that reaches each of the 20-plus sections of English 3764, a technical writing course for students in majors from biology to economics.

• J.D. Stahl and Kathryn Graham (English), working with since-retired librarian Anita Haney, raised the profile of the library’s resources for the study of juvenile literature as a part of English 3524 (Literature for Children). They emphasized a tour of library collections, classroom visits by a librarian, and an online guide.

• Kee Jeong Kim (Human Development) worked with librarian Michelle Young to design a pre-test and post-test for freshmen in her HD1004 (Human Development I) course. At the start of the course, only 38 percent of participating students could identify a true statement about the differences between scholarly journals and popular magazines; upon completion, 97 percent answered the question correctly.

• Rick Shingles, Craig Brians, and Raquel Becerra (Political Science) worked with librarian Bruce Pencek to design a media literacy presentation for PSCI 2024 (Undergraduate Research Methods in Political Science). Shingles used video clips of interviews with reporters, along with media clips from television, to help demonstrate the differences between the mass media and the scientific community as information distributors, and to help identify criteria that should be considered when deciding whether to accept a news source as authoritative.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech is the most comprehensive university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is among the top research universities in the nation. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to quality, innovation, and results through teaching, research, and outreach activities. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.

Luke Vilelle wrote this story.

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