Teaching data literacy in academic libraries

For Immediate Release
Thu, 07/29/2021


Rob Christopher

Marketing Coordinator

ALA Publishing

American Library Association



CHICAGO — We live in a data-driven world, much of it processed and served up by increasingly complex algorithms, and evaluating its quality requires its own skillset. As a component of information literacy, it's crucial that students learn how to think critically about statistics, data, and related visualizations. In “Data Literacy in Academic Libraries: Teaching Critical Thinking with Numbers,” published by ALA Editions, editor Julia Bauder and her fellow contributors show how librarians are helping students to access, interpret, critically assess, manage, handle, and ethically use data. Offering readers a roadmap for effectively teaching data literacy at the undergraduate level, this volume explores such topics as:

  • the potential for large-scale library/faculty partnerships to incorporate data literacy instruction across the undergraduate curriculum;
  • how the principles of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education can help to situate data literacy within a broader information literacy context;
  • a report on the expectations of classroom faculty concerning their students’ data literacy skills;
  • various ways that librarians can partner with faculty;
  • case studies of two initiatives spearheaded by Purdue University Libraries and University of Houston Libraries that support faculty as they integrate more work with data into their courses;
  • Barnard College’s Empirical Reasoning Center, which provides workshops and walk-in consultations to more than a thousand students annually;
  • how a one-shot session using the PolicyMap data mapping tool can be used to teach students from many different disciplines;
  • diving into quantitative data to determine the truth or falsity of potential “fake news” claims; and
  • a for-credit, librarian-taught course on information dissemination and the ethical use of information.

Bauder is the Social Studies and Data Services Librarian at the Grinnell College Libraries. She is also the author of “The Reference Guide to Data Sources” and the forthcoming book “Teaching Research Data Management”. She has also published and presented about information literacy, data literacy, and data visualization in venues including Information Technology and Libraries, College & Undergraduate Libraries, and the LITA National Forum.

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