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Book Reviews

Mary Snyder Broussard. Reading, Research, and Writing: Teaching Information Literacy with Process-Based Research Assignments. Chicago: American Library Association for the Association of College and Research Libraries, 2017. 140p. Paper, $40.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-8875-6).

Book cover for Reading Research and Writing

Any academic librarian involved in reference and instruction can point to many titles that examine information literacy. In the case of Mary Broussard’s Reading, Research, and Writing: Teaching Information Literacy with Process-Based Research Assignments, the reader will find a book that takes a more holistic view on the subject. In this case, that view also includes exploring how reading and the writing process are as important as and critically connected to the research process.

Unlike other books that deal with writing, the heavy focus on the importance of reading for comprehension plays an important role in producing quality writing. Throughout the book, the author also emphasizes that there is a clear difference in how one writes from sources versus other forms of writing. It is this writing from sources’ perspective that the book centers on and that is often the basis of student research paper assignments by faculty. Also unlike other books on writing, the author stresses that it is the process that is more important to student learning and improved writing than the final product. With a focus on the process, the author organizes the book to examine the stages of the process intertwining it with how information literacy instruction can be improved and better serve student learning.

The book consists of six chapters, with the first chapter focusing on the problems that have led to the writing of the book. In it, Broussard lays out the challenges that students face with both reading and writing, identifying several problems within the current academic environment that necessitates librarians studying reading and writing research. The author also explains her own frustrations in trying to provide impactful information literacy instruction.

Chapter 2 is the theory chapter. After covering several critical cognitive theories, Broussard lays out the theory of process-based information literacy. Aware of the standards and frameworks that have been created to facilitate information literacy, the author explains how the theory aligns well with them. The reader will want to read the attributes of the theory’s model twice: first, to understand each of the six components of the model and how they might apply; then, the second time, to see just how they all fit together in what is really a simple yet robust model.

One will find that chapters 3 and 4 can be read independently of the other chapters in case someone wanted to explore just the topic of “low stakes writing” (chapter 3) or “reading for comprehension” (chapter 4). In chapter 3, Broussard explains that what is often taught about writing is not the way most quality writing is done. By allowing students to do “low stakes” writing, students will produce much better “high stakes” writing, especially when students receive feedback on their “low stakes” writing. After providing examples of types of “low stakes” writing, Broussard explains the ways it impacts the overall writing process. This reviewer even began to reflect on how I have used such methods in my own writing. It is in chapter 4 that the author takes a deeper dive into reading for comprehension and provides guidance on how closely aligned the reading process is with the goals of information literacy. Focusing in on how a reader draws meaning from a text, Broussard provides a series of exercises that can be used to teach students. The seven different strategies given include tools that readers can easily pull out and use immediately in their own work.

Throughout the book, information literacy is touched upon from different angles. It is in chapter 5 that the reader will find the greatest emphasis on information literacy. It is here that the author explores writing from sources in greater detail. It is also within this chapter that the author outlines the importance of integrating information literacy into the curriculum. Instructional design and support for improved process-based information literacy are examined. Examples of instructional support are provided to facilitate conversations between librarians and faculty. The examples also provide ways in which librarians can work directly with students.

The challenges of putting process-based information literacy into practice are addressed in the final chapter. Depending on the environmental conditions that may exist at one’s own institution, implementing the program may require significant coordination with colleagues and faculty. The author offers suggestions on how to look at one’s own situation and respond.

Each chapter ends with a lengthy listing of references. At first the reader of the book will acknowledge that the author has done her homework until the reality of the context of the book begins to set in. This is the point that the quality of the book begins to really come through as you realize that the book has been constructed using the principles presented in the book. The quality of the writing is clear, the concepts are very well organized, and you will feel like you are able to pull valuable content from nearly every paragraph. The book does not have an index at the end, although one may find that to be less of an issue since the book is relatively short. That said, it is surprising just how much the book covers in so few pages. This again is a nod to the quality of the process used in the writing of the book. All academic librarians should read this book, as well as any faculty member you may want to persuade to work with the library.—Mark Shelton, College of the Holy Cross

Copyright Mark Shelton


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