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Staff member named "Outstanding Tennessee Librarian," lauded for introduction of new technologies

April 16, 2002

Far from the days of lengthy searches through dusty card catalogs, today's libraries provide fast, easy access to the vast offerings of the Information Age.

"@ your library," the theme for this year's National Library Week, April 14-20, celebrates the role of libraries in bridging the "digital divide" and invites people to check out the latest multimedia resources for learning and entertainment.

"Libraries and librarians have always played an important role in society by providing citizens the information they need to make important decisions in life," said Lori Buchanan, user education librarian at Austin Peay's Felix G. Woodward Library. "Today's technological advancements have expanded their ability to do that with enhanced library services such as networked catalogs, live chat reference and databases with remote access."

Buchanan received the 2002 James E. Ward Library Instruction Award and was
recognized as Outstanding Tennessee Librarian for her work in introducing new technologies to the University library during the March meeting of the Tennessee Library Association.

Throughout her 15-year career at Austin Peay, she has helped bring in numerous services that have changed the way students use the library.

Computerized databases house thousands of searchable journals. "Ask a Librarian" allows students to e-mail questions or get an immediate response using a live chat feature. And the library Web site provides 24-hour access to electronic information from anywhere in the world.

The advancements have changed the way librarians do their jobs as well, according to Buchanan.

"In addition to the more traditional duties of selecting, acquiring and organizing materials, we are now writing Web site content and how-to guides. We're updating the online catalog, organizing and maintaining database connections and providing electronic reference services," she said.

Buchanan also was recognized for leading the progress of the library's instruction program from a basic tutorial of services to an in-depth seminar in how to research, evaluate and use information.

Termed "information literacy," learning how to find and apply the right material allows patrons to maximize their library time, according to Buchanan.

It also ensures they access information that is accurate and up-to-date - critical
when making important medical or financial decisions.

"Information literacy goes way beyond instruction in how to use a library. It's about deciding what information is needed, knowing how to access it, sifting through and evaluating large quantities of data and knowing how to use it in an ethical and legal way to complete a task," she said.

Students in Austin Peay's communications, honors and English programs were among the first to be exposed to information literacy.

Under Buchanan's Information Literacy Action Plan, they were part of a pilot program that taught how to assess information quality and explored copyright, censorship and free access issues.

Buchanan hopes to introduce information literacy campus-wide and has organized a team of faculty members to design related projects.

With the help of Chuck McCann, instructional technology librarian, and Tom Mosely, coordinator for extended education and off-campus programs, she also is planning a multimedia development suite. The facility will contain state-of-art software and equipment, which Austin Peay faculty will use to learn how to incorporate technology and information literacy in their campus and online courses.

"The rapid rate of change over the last decade has provided librarians with opportunities to introduce new and exciting services and I believe this will continue," said Buchanan.

"The amount of digitized information available through libraries will continue to
grow. We will see more online databases containing full-text articles and electronic books, and live chat and e-mail reference transactions will increase as the number of students who learn from a distance grows.

"Also, libraries will continue to shift from ownership of sources to providing access to them because information volume and cost are increasing while library funding is decreasing."

For more information, telephone 7346.