“We live in a world immersed in texts – news, job applications, advertising, medical prescriptions – so to lack literacy skills means disenfranchisement. It means being shut out of jobs and opportunities, which reinforces economic and class divisions.”
According to Assistant Professor Meagan Lacy, Information Literacy Librarian at Guttman since 2014, information literacy encompasses the reading and research skills essential for scholarly advancement as well as “a key element of critical thinking, necessary to solve problems and make decisions.” It “is also fundamental to building an informed citizenry and a healthy democracy,” enabling “those who seek and critically analyze information for themselves [to] make personally informed decisions on political and social issues.” Therefore, “information literacy matters for life, not just for school. The more information you have,” along with the tools to select the most reliable, relevant kind and use it effectively, “the more questions you can ask and the more you can advocate for yourself.”
Prof. Lacy describes her “primary role [as] support[ing] information literacy instruction on campus.” To do this, “I visit classrooms to teach particular research skills, meet students one-on-one for research assistance on their assignments,” and work with Guttman colleagues to ensure “that information literacy skills are situated in the context of their courses or disciplines.” In what Prof. Lacy calls the “best collaboration I’ve had” at the College, several Composition faculty “shared their syllabi with me well ahead [of time,] so I was able to offer suggestions for activities or lessons and how to scaffold them throughout the semester.” She adds that “drop-in library instruction sessions are fine and all, but we can deepen student learning of information literacy so much more when we,” course instructors and information literacy specialists, “collaborate on curriculum and assignments together” in advance. “Every lesson I create aims to build upon students’ existing knowledge,” Prof. Lacy elaborates. For instance, she asks “how they judge information quality” and guides the class in generating criteria before teaching source evaluation, or has students “reflect on something they have expertise in[, be it] cooking, dancing, writing, gaming,” to show that “authority is created… and contextual.” Rather than giving traditional library tours and boring, point-and-click database demonstrations, Prof. Lacy focuses on what she wants students to learn. Through these approaches, students are able to “recognize their own knowledge and experience and see themselves as creators and not just consumers of knowledge.”
Holding a Master of Library and Information Science (M.L.I.S.) from the University of Washington and an M.A. in English from Indiana University, Prof. Lacy’s “research interests in information literacy, reading literacy, and children’s literature grow out of the desire to nurture young people’s curiosity and empower them to become independent, self-directed learners.” She is the co-author of Connecting Children with Classics: A Reader-Centered Approach to Selecting and Promoting Great Literature and currently co-writing the reference book Genre Blends for Children and Teens. The forthcoming text will “catalog novels by both book appeal factors, such as genre and theme, and reader appeal factors, such as the reader’s mood or informational need.” The ultimate purpose is “to help librarians and teachers recommend” literature that children can connect to and “love so they can develop a reading habit early.” Additionally, Prof. Lacy is in the process of earning her M.F.A. in creative writing at the City College of New York, CUNY, with a concentration on nonfiction.