Threshold Concepts: New Lingo in the Library World

Just when “Information Literacy” became fairly mainstream, along comes “Library Thresholds.”  How is this new, fairly intimidating concept applicable to how we offer library instruction? The goal is basically to move students along from simply pushing buttons to thinking about research.

Threshold concepts were first introduced into the literature by two researchers in the UK in the early 2000s and include criteria which ideally would help with finding, evaluating, and using information.  This post from the University of Texas offers a good introduction.

For a critical discussion which questions whether “what is threshold for one person is not for another.” see “Demystifying Threshold Concepts.” in Journal Of Philosophy Of Education 41.2 (2007): 263-270. Academic Search Premier.

Privacy Issues

With so much attention on privacy, or lack of it, there are some things that you can do you. Will these tips solve all your privacy concerns? Sadly not, but at least you have some protection from commercial sources.

Public Computer Users Beware
You don’t want to leave a trail behind once you log off, so take a few minutes before you begin searching to adjust  privacy settings to (1) erase your history and (2) clean out cookies. .

firefox logo  Firefox Users:
Click Options
Click the Privacy icon.
Click the “Tell websites I do not want to be tracked
Click the ““Use Custom Settings for History”  and scrutinize your options,
For starters, click  “Clear history when Firefox closes”
More information is available at How-To Geek

chrome logoChrome Users
According to a recent study, Chrome appears to be a more secure browsers when compared to others. Still, there is an option to be even more cautious by clicking the “Incognito” mode. Click the three little lines on the top right screenchrome incongito


Keep in mind that browsing “incognito” only keeps Google from storing information about the websites you’ve visited, not the websites themselves from remembering what you like.






In Chrome, click the toolbar (three solid lines in the upper right hand corner), and open a new Incognito window.

What Students Say About Research

Project Info Lit: How Students do Research

“The first generation to have to much information, except too little” discuss the challenges of college writing and research. The preference seems to be having assigned topics.

Project Info Lit: Frustrations of Research
Between the writing, research, and sorting through the abundance of information, there’s little enthusiasm left when completing the assignment.

Web Reading – or should we say skimming?

On average, online readers are actually skimming  information on webpages.  Web page visitors apparently spend as much time “reading”  as trying to figure out how to navigate the page and checking out the images.  The eye movement while skimming the material differs from that of in print.  Online, eyes follow an F Pattern,  first in a horizontal movement across the upper part of the page, then a second horizontal movement followed by a  vertical movement. All in all, users have now taken in a mere  20% of the material!

f shape reading


Copyright for Faculty

How does copyright law apply to you as a faculty-member  when distributing copies of articles, placing items on reserve, or sharing  your own published material? Copyright on Campus provides basic information  for faculty in an animated format -  from the Copyright Clearance Center.  The six-minute video  provides a thorough introduction  to Fair Use issues.  You’ll need to register first before viewing. Additional information on copyright is  also available by clicking this link: UConn Copyright

Pew Report indicates that young Americans are still reading

More about young people reading habits. Print and electronic materials seems to be co-existed and are both used in the library by young people.

  • 40 percent of surveyed Americans under 30 regularly read newspapers
  • subjects under 30 who read electronically were more likely to read books on a cellphone or a computer
  • 23 percent of Americans under 30 used an e-reader and 16 percent used a tablet.

Here is the link for the report,

Rethinking How Research Is Taught to Today’s College Students– “…begging them to fake it”

“I think many first year writing instructors teach the research paper as a survival skill, knowing it’s a kind of writing students will be asked to do, though really they would learn more about writing if asked to compose in other forms – perhaps putting together background briefings, writing a letter to the local newspaper, as contributions to a class blog or to Wikipedia – saving research for upper division classes in the major, where students can feel more at home in the conversations going on in the discipline, more ready to use the discourse conventions of the field. Otherwise, we’re begging them to fake it.

Not so savvy searchers

Higher Ed article indicates that a “two-year, five-campus ethnographic study examining how students view and use their campus libraries: students rarely ask librarians for help, even when they need it. The idea of a librarian as an academic expert who is available to talk about assignments and hold their hands through the research process is, in fact, foreign to most students.”

“Librarians and professors are also partially to blame for the gulf that has opened between students and the library employees who are supposed to help them…”