Most practiced researchers would agree that searching for information is not a linear process. Usually, the first search query turns up only marginal results at best, and searchers need to refine their search terms until they find a combination that gets them the information they want. Sure, it’s easy to choose the first result in a Google search or not go beyond the first page of results in a database. But most of the time, those aren’t going to be the best sources of information. Searching as Strategic Exploration is the ACRL Information Literacy Frame which focuses on teaching students that, “Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops.” (ACRL Framework, 2016)
This makes sense for academic papers requiring in-depth analysis and careful consideration of sources. But is it always necessary to dive deeply into sources of information? Two of the dispositions related to this frame articulate a need to understand when a searcher has enough information. Specifically, the dispositions state searchers will:
“realize that information sources ... have varying relevance and value, depending on the needs and nature of the search,” and
“... know when they have enough information to complete the information task.” (ACRL Framework, 2016)
Mike Caulfield is an digital literacy educator known for introducing the SIFT method of source evaluation. SIFT stands for: Stop, Investigate the source, Find better coverage, and Trace claims to the original context. This method is especially effective for checking the instances of misinformation we encounter daily in our social media feeds. Perhaps counterintuitively, Caulfield also stresses the importance of not diving too deeply into fact-checking missions. In a 2021 New York Times opinion piece, “Don’t Go Down the Rabbit Hole,” Caulfield argues, “‘Whenever you give your attention to a bad actor, you allow them to steal your attention from better treatments of an issue, and give them the opportunity to warp your perspective.’” As the article's author Charlie Warzel puts it, “Internet users need to learn that our attention is a scarce commodity that is to be spent wisely.” In news that will be surprising to no one, too much information is actually a bad thing.
Caulfield offers a relatable summary of how he recommends people use the SIFT method in a 2021 essay he wrote for Project Information Literacy’s Provocation Series:
You saw a tweet, got mad, hovered over the source and found out this wasn’t a great source. So maybe it’s not worth any more of your attention. Shut down the phone and see what’s on Netflix, or go outside and get some sun. You have no obligation to waste good attention on bad sources.
In a nutshell, it’s important for people to persist until they find the information they need. At the same time, it’s perhaps even more important that people can recognize when they have enough information to answer their question, and not go further to complicate the issue. Students who practice skills related to Searching as Strategic Exploration should be well equipped to exist in an environment of constant information overload.
Over the summer, don't forget to check your links in Canvas to library resources! Databases can change and you might lose access to a valuable article.
DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!
Contact Cali or Jayne if you have any questions or need to find access to something another way.
Before everyone heads out at the end of the semester, we want to give a shoutout to all of our student library assistants since we didn't have time to highlight each of them. As always, we had a great group this year, and the fulltime library staff truly appreciates their help keeping the library open nights and weekends for the other students. You rock!
Jorge Chevez Ricardo*
*Graduating seniors! We will miss them so much!
Feed Your Brain During Finals
More Brain Break Activities
Don't let hunger get in the way of studying for finals! The library will be serving snacks in the evening, May 3 - 10.
Wednesday, May 3 - Breakfast at Night
Thursday, May 4 - Variety of Snacks
Sunday, May 7 - Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!
Monday, May 8 - Popcorn Bar
Tuesday, May 9 - Fresh Cinnamon Rolls
Wednesday, May 10 - What's Left?
As always, we'll have puzzles and coloring pages available, so switch brain hemispheres for a while!
We also hope to have some furry friends visit on Monday, May 8, at 7pm to lower your blood pressure and relieve some of the stress of Finals!
Image by brgfx on Freepik
No special hours for the last two weeks
Learning & E-resources Librarian
Online Learning Librarian
Interlibrary Loan Library Assistant
Fine Arts & Humanities
Engineering & Mathematics
College of Education
College of Business