This year’s LOEX Conference planners knocked it out of the ballpark! It is always energizing to be surrounded by instruction librarians for three wonderful days, but the content of this conference was particularly outstanding. On top of that, this conference took place May 11-13 in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky which is known for horses and bourbon. I would have been happy to stay for a few more days just to explore the area.
(This beautiful park near the hotel had numerous horse sculptures.)

The theme for the conference was, “Growing Stronger Together: Diversity and Community in Information Literacy.” The plenary speaker was Dr. Aaron Thompson who is the Interim President at Kentucky State University. He talked about the need to serve all populations to help them be successful in higher education.  It was a fantastic speech—he grew up in a one room house in the rolling hills of Kentucky with nothing but dirt for a floor. He was passionate, insightful, and funny. The golden nugget for me was when he talked about the important role that faculty play in helping students feel a sense of belonging to an institution. If within six weeks of classes starting, a faculty member knows the name of a student, and if there is a connection between them, the probability of their success at that institution is greatly improved. The second highest indicator is between student and advisor! It was a vivid reminder of the important roles we play as adults on campuses. The student-student connection was the least important for predicting success on a college campus.

The first breakout session was led by Lane Wilkinson, Director of Instruction at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. His presentation was on fake news and the need to start students in the right place to begin with. He said that the CRAAP test does not test reliability or credibility of an article. He suggested starting students with nytimes.com or other targeted sites instead of having them do general Google searches.

The theme of evaluating authority was continued in a presentation by Jo Angela Oehrli, Alexandra Start, and Amanda Peters and the University of Michigan. They developed an activity around the Flint water crisis and had the students evaluate the authority of the authors of a scholarly article, a blog, and newspaper article about this topic. They also shared the questions the students were asked to address. I loved this idea and session!

My favorite session was by Linda Daniel from Duke University. Linda has been working with Duke Kunshan University which is Duke University’s campus in China. They are partnering with a Chinese University to form this institution. NYU and Stanford have similar programs in China. This was all new and fascinating information for me! Their majors currently focus on liberal arts and critical thinking skills. Linda inspired me to start researching WFU’s VPN connectivity stability in China.

Sometimes going to a conference like LOEX makes you grateful to be at Wake Forest University! At Drake University, their librarians are required to teach First Year Seminars with connections to Information Literacy. These presenters had fantastic content and ideas, but there is no way we could teach the number of students we teach using this approach.

Other sessions I attended talked about things like: escape rooms (extremely complicated and limited to 15 students for one game); Information Literacy course and graduation rates (the course attracted the fringe students already failing so IL students were less likely to graduate); transfer students (huge trend upward at Appalachian State from community colleges); and giving activities to students before the class begins (still pondering this idea).

Overall, it was one of the best LOEX conferences I have attended. Next year’s LOEX will take place in Houston and I hope to be there!

(This is Mary Todd Lincoln’s living room. Lovely home!)

(Hyatt Regency Conference Hotel)

(The star of Lexington!)