Engaging with Algorithm Bias: How Librarians Can Meet Information Literacy Needs of Computer Science and Engineering Students (Rescheduled)

Wednesday, 1/29/2020
  • 3:00 PM (Eastern)
  • 2:00 PM (Central)
  • 1:00 PM (Mountain)
  • 12:00 PM (Pacific)

image of a man made out of paper in front of a wall with the PHP code for displaying Hello World behind himAs the information universe becomes increasingly dominated by algorithms, computer scientists and engineers have ethical obligations to create systems that do no harm. To increase search literacy, librarians can partner with information scientists, educate computer science and engineering students, and raise awareness about how databases are designed by humans with preexisting biases.

In Part I of this 75-minute webinar, librarians Sheree Fu and Shalini Ramachandran will introduce the topic of algorithm bias and discuss harms caused. They will present the results of a survey they conducted of computer science students at Boise State University, California State University, Los Angeles, and USC, on their perceptions about search engine and big-data algorithms. They conclude by evaluating the cross-disciplinary role librarians can play in providing ethical perspectives on algorithm design in a fast changing information universe.

In Part II, computer science professor Steven Cutchin and librarian Karen Howell discuss an information literacy component they have developed focused on raising awareness about algorithm bias. They will talk about their experience with deploying the instruction module to computer science students at Boise State University and USC. They will address how the modules are being revised based on evaluation of student feedback, interviews, and instructor metacognition. They will end with reflection on how librarians and computer science faculty can collaborate to teach effectively about algorithm bias.

Learning Outcomes

Learning objectives for this program include:
  • Attendees will be able to define and recognize examples of bias in machine learning and computer algorithms.

  • Attendees will give examples of computer science student perceptions of algorithm bias.

  • Attendees will summarize themes or ideas that may influence the future of library instruction.

Who Should Attend

This course is geared towards librarians and library workers who want to understand the issues around algorithm bias and how it affects library services, information literacy instructions, and the ethical teaching of computer science and engineering students.


Dr. Shalini Ramachandran

Picture of Shalini Ramachandran

Dr. Shalini Ramachandran was a Science & Engineering librarian at the University of Southern California (USC) where she taught information literacy to science and engineering students, including computer science students. She is currently a Research Affiliate at Boise State University's College of Engineering. She has conducted research on computer science students' perceptions of algorithm bias and presented on the topic at the 2019 ALA Midwinter Meeting.

Sheree Fu

Picture of Sheree Fu

Sheree Fu is the Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology Librarian at California State University, Los Angeles. She teaches engineering and first year students information literacy skills. She has presented on user research, space planning, accessibility, and computer algorithm bias. Her research explores emerging student needs and technology in academic libraries.

Dr. Steven Cutchin

Picture of Dr. Steven Cutchin

Dr. Steven Cutchin is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Director of Research Computing at Boise State University. He does research into Virtual Reality and Human Computer Interaction, and is currently studying the impact of students' perception of algorithmic bias on computer science education.

Karen Howell

Picture of Karen Howell

Karen Howell is the Head of Leavey Library at the University of Southern California. In partnership with USC faculty and librarians, she has piloted course assignments for students to create digital exhibits in Scalar using primary resources from Special Collections. She also serves as Faculty Diversity Recruitment Liaison for the University Park Campus libraries at USC, and is the co-author of an online library research guide for resources on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 



  • LITA Member: $45
  • Non-Member: $105
  • Group: $196

Zoom login information will be sent to registrants  just prior to the start date.

How to Register

Register Online  page arranged by session date (login required)


Mail or fax form to ALA Registration

OR call 1-800-545-2433 and press 5

OR email registration@ala.org

Can't attend the live event? No problem! Register and you'll receive a link to the recording.

Tech Requirements

Live, synchronous lectures require attendee participation via internet audio. Attendees will need a high-speed internet connection (preferably wired) and a headset or speakers. We recommend attendees use headsets connected to their computers during webinars.All attendees are muted but can use the built-in chat function to communicate with presenters. The use of computer speakers with a microphone is not recommended, as this can cause echoes.The recommended browser is Mozilla Firefox, although other current browsers should also work.

Please contact us at lita@ala.org at least 10 days in advance if you require an accommodation.


For questions about registration, contact ALA Registration:  call 1-800-545-2433 and press 5, or email registration@ala.org.

For all other questions or comments related to the course, contact LITA.