The Internet, Social Networking and Information Literacy: Issues and Challenges for Caribbean libraries

Fay Durrant, Professor; Mark-Shane Scale, Librarian; Barbara Gordon, Lecturer; Dr Cherrell Shelley-Robinson, Senior Lecturer and Head of Department, Department of Library and Information Studies, of the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, will present this panel discussion on Monday, June 2, 200, at Room 1, Rose-Hall Resort, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The abstract of each presentation follows:

Online Social Networking and Libraries, by Prof. Fay Durrant

Online social networking sites have made significant advances in the development of virtual communities. With their origins in listservs, egroups, blogs, chat rooms and instant messaging, social networking sites provide opportunities for users to construct public or semi-public profiles, to link to “friends” across the globe and to create content.
The presentation will examine participation of Jamaican and Caribbean people in some social networking sites, conditions under which information is created and shared, factors influencing membership and participation, issues of privacy and protection, and applications being used by libraries.

Libraries, Facebook and the Information Age, by Mark-Shane Scale

Facebook is one of these most successful online social networking sites. It is reported to have over 61 million active users. If these statistics are valid, then Facebook should have many lessons to provide for libraries and media houses in expanding and retaining a large client base. This discussion will trace how Facebook developed, examine the philosophy of its founder, and some of the factors underlying its successes. The discussion will also focus on how Facebook attracts users, the content the site provides and some lessons from this information venture that are useful for libraries.

Within Facebook’s success and development, there are underlying assumptions as to what information scientists and professionals can expect of people’s information needs. It is hoped that this discussion will unearth some of these assumptions to inform the profession’s development of interactive services.

Managing Internet Access in Jamaican School Libraries, by Barbara A. Gordon

School libraries offering Internet access services help to lessen the “Digital Divide” both within and between countries and make a significant contribution to the acquisition of information technology skills by citizens. Access to the Internet and to social networking sites is increasingly available in Jamaican school libraries and some important considerations for delivering effective services include managing access to information content on the web, staff and user training and policy development. Suggestions for developing quality-based services include: user education; clearly articulated acceptable use policies developed in consultation with stakeholders; and partnership between school libraries and IT departments in order to maximise scarce resources.

Information Literacy in the Information Age, by Dr. Cherrell Shelley Robinson

The panel presentation will conclude with a presentation on Information literacy, and what it means to the information literate in a social networking environment. Creation of content and social capital, the interaction among “friends” and the posting of personal information require a greater capacity in information literacy than has been the case in the print only world, or in the world of Web 1.0.


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