-Contributed by Jodi Kearns
The Center was well-represented at the annual conference of the American Library Association, held in New Orleans last month! First, CHP Director Dr. David Baker was awarded the American Psychological Association Excellence in Librarianship award at the conference. You can read more about Dr. Baker’s award at the University of Akron newsroom.
In addition, I presented mine and Lizette Royer’s work testing visual literacy standards at the CHP on a panel of academic information literacy librarians from five US universities. Our presentation, titled “Visual Literacy Instruction at the Center for the History of Psychology”, focused on an assessment we conducted to gain information on our patrons’ abilities and confidence when it comes to using photographs and other visual materials in our collections. The Center houses more than 12,000 still images and we encourage patrons to use those images as primary source evidence in their research. In order to assess the visual information literacy needs of our researchers, we created a web-based exercise examining their knowledge of and thoughts about visual materials.
Volunteer respondents were shown a series of six photographs from collections at the CHP and provided unconstrained space to respond to tasks.
The tasks were designed to:
- invoke critical thinking in relation to photographs
- test identification of errors in accompanying textual content
- demonstrate willingness to consult additional sources to verify information
- write proper and complete citations
Our assessment showed that professional historians and researchers are fluent and confident when critically analyzing visual information in our collections; graduate students are fluent, with lower confidence in their capabilities than the former group; and undergraduate students seem willing try the tasks, but require our direction and instruction.
We also found that even respondents with much experience doing archival research require a simple how-to for citing sources from our collections. To address this, we have created a brief, user-friendly aid that demonstrates how to cite visual materials from the CHP collections using APA (American Psychological Association) style .
Other findings from this project have also led to the creation of instructional material that we hope will help our patrons’ experiences with visual materials more productive. Access to these and all of our instructional materials will soon be available on the CHP website.
Jodi Kearns received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Information Science from the University of North Texas. She is the Digital Project Manager at the Center for the History of Psychology.