Lorraine Wochna, instruction coordinator for Ohio University Libraries, recently spent a week in the lush and colorful South American country of Guyana. Although tropical travel is often associated with vacation, during the week of July 22, 2013, Wochna was working, conducting a multiday workshop at the University of Guyana Library. Wochna was invited by Gwyneth George, their University Librarian, after her visit to OHIO last September.
Wochna worked with Sherri Saines, instruction librarian in Alden, to develop the workshop, which focused on the integration of information literacy — the ability to locate, evaluate and effectively use information — into university curriculum and administration.
The purpose was not only to strengthen the idea that librarians and information specialists are crucial for the learning process, but also to emphasize the importance of information literacy for students, faculty and researchers.
“Everything is not on Google,” Wochna said. “But the only way to demonstrate that is to understand what else is available, find ways to harness that information, then find ways to share it with the world.”
Participants ranged from the University of Guyana’s library staff to representatives from different agencies in Guyana such as the National Library, the Bank of Guyana, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, among others.
Saines joined the workshop from Athens via Skype to deliver a session on critical thinking.
“We talked about how information literacy and critical thinking are vitally intertwined. Then we learned two methods of insisting on critical thinking in a class or meeting,” Saines said. “Lorraine said they kept coming back to those methods all day long, so I think they understood and appreciated our session.”
By applying the information literacy standards to each one’s constituency, the participants were able to conceptualize them in relation to their work.
“Everyone was ready to learn. As librarians, they understand information literacy, but I don’t think everyone had spent a lot of time really talking about it and investigating it,” Wochna said.
The University of Guyana’s library staff has the knowledge and ambition to improve their services. Wochna felt that their enthusiastic involvement and engagement allowed them to be a team from the very first moment. Their positive spirits did not go unnoticed.
“This workshop had so much meaning for them,” Wochna said. “They put so much time and energy into making it happen.”
The week provided the participants with ideas and the drive to propose information literacy programs for their respective institutions.
One of the biggest pieces of knowledge that the participants took away from the workshop was the power to promote one’s services using free online services. The ability to forego costs and still push out useful, quality information proved that the world is available and connected through free technology.
“If you can be connected, then you can be in a global society,” Wochna said. The workshop did, however, stand as a reminder of how important strengthening access to resources is in order to be a part of this global society.
“…If you don’t have the resources, it doesn’t matter how global everything is.”