TMC6 Buchansky

Connections between campuses: Creating a collaborative OCULA/OSLA information literacy toolkit 

By Heather Buchansky

This paper provides an overview and context about the creation and content of the upcoming information literacy (IL) toolkit, for members of the Ontario College and University Library Association (OCULA) and Ontario School Library Association (OSLA), two divisions of the Ontario Library Association (OLA). The author explores rational for the toolkit and requests feedback.

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Heather Buchansky is the Student Engagement Librarian at the University of Toronto Libraries. In her role, she develops and coordinates large-scale library initiatives related to student outreach and information literacy, primarily for undergraduate students. She presents frequently on her work related to Personal Librarian programs, and has recently co-authored a book on such programs, entitled “Personal Librarians: Building Relationships for Student Success” (Libraries Unlimited, 2019). She is a member of OCULA council, serving as councillor-at-large for 2019-2021.

Heather earned her Masters of Information from the University of Toronto, and holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from University of Exeter. Prior to entering librarianship, she worked as a teacher, and a sales consultant for a university press.


  1. Hi Heather,

    I'm sorry that the project is not yet at the stage where we can check out all the great things that happen with OCULA members and OSLA members collaborate at a student- and school-level to decrease this gap. I'm sure there are plans to examine the future steps in detail.

    As an elementary school library professional, I was disheartened to hear that for many students, their education and skills in this area were "scattered, inadequate, and disconnected" (page 2). After we/you/they figure out how to bridge the secondary to post-secondary gap, maybe we can determine any elementary to secondary gaps in a similar way.

    Diana M

    1. I love that you are creating such a thorough set of resources for educators. We spend so much time supporting students as they transition from elementary to high school (so much easier as we can hold transition meetings and host tours - many of them will be going to the same secondary school). We don't communicate with our post-secondary colleagues enough about the skills and resources students need to be successful once they leave our school board, and the gaps are showing. And yet, here we all are, researching and communicating and advocating for students and solving problems together - the power of self-directed professional development, and PLNs, is incredible! I hope you all know how amazing you are, and the impact you are having on both educators and students.

      Our team of 5* high school TL's has been working to improve the research skills of our students and we actually spoke with Heather and her colleague Tim a short while ago. This project has sparked many conversations with our teachers as well, and there are so many aspects to this issue. In the surveys on research skills I gave to HS students before working with their classes, it was clear that they were quite overconfident in their research ability. There also seems to be a culture of complacency when it comes to research and citations: plagiarism has become a common habit that few students (and teachers) want to invest time and effort in breaking. There are so many teachers at the secondary level - how do we get them all on board? How do we reach all students?

      So interesting that you mention the transition from elementary to high school, Diana, because I think that's where we need to start. During our strike day we picketed with our local elementary school, and I started chatting with some intermediate teachers (I used to teach Grade 8). Now we have plans for me to come support their classes in evaluating websites and citing sources (our elementary schools don't have TL's) - if we start young then maybe we can change the culture around plagiarism and raise expectations in high school, and prepare our students better for post-secondary study.

      * I should clarify that we have 5 TL's in our entire board, not at one school!

    2. Hi Meg,
      Thanks again for reaching out to U of T Libraries for the chat a couple weeks ago. I agree - PLNs are a wonderful, simple, and effective way to connect with others dedicated to teaching research/IL skills experiencing or seeing the same issues.

      Your comment above gave me some good ideas on what else to add to the toolkit (thank you!), such as focus/additional section on explicitly listing the top research skills (i.e. how to start? where to search? why cite? ) we're both seeing as foundational for senior level high school and first-year post-secondary, and links/resources to use.

    3. Hi Diana,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. And good point re: any gaps from elementary to secondary school. That's not an area I'm familiar with, but if you know of any research, resources, or studies going on in that area, please do send my way.

  2. Hi Diana and Heather,
    The PIL (Project Information Literacy) studies really resonated with me, especially "Learning the Ropes." Many freshmen interviewed for that study had virtually no experience of "course research" (curriculum-integrated inquiry) in their high schools. I saw that very personally when my scholarship-winning nephew struggled with research assignments in his first year at my university. Alberta's school library policy does not support consistency in school library services or staffing.

    1. I'm a big fan of the PIL reports and studies. Their most recent one was released a couple weeks ago re: IL in the age of algorithms. It's a good read, with some timely and thoughtful recommendations (like Recommendation #2!).

  3. Hi Heather,
    I'm glad to see that there is not just research going on about this topic (which is certainly necessary) but that something is being done about students' lack of preparedness for university. Will this be shared with school libraries across the country or is it only for Ontario educators? As I mentioned in my comment regarding Diane Oberg's paper, I hope that we are also considering ensuring that all students, regardless of whether they go to university or not, are being prepared for life by teacher-librarians. We must remember that we educate for all. I would suggest that there be more practical ideas for teacher-librarians to use when preparing students for post-high school. What, specifically, are students lacking and how can that be addressed by schools?

    1. Hi Jo-Anne,

      Thanks for reading and for your interest in the toolkit. The plan is to have it live somewhere on the Ontario Library Association website, and would be open for anyone to access. The inspiration/model is from the American equivalent, and as a current Ontario College and University Library Association (OCULA) council member, I thought I'd try to replicate something with an Ontario context, and use Canadian studies/research reports when possible. But I'm hoping the examples are useful regardless of one's province/territory (i.e. accessing web resources, ideas on connecting between local secondary/ post-secondary institutions).

  4. Heather, I know you are looking for resources... Here's one that I know well (because I was one of its co-editors!) ... Media and Information Literacy in Higher Education: Educating the Educators (2017). School and academic librarians have a lot in common (and the ACRL Framework is very consistent with school library best practice). Dianne O


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