Using Pop Culture to Teach Information Literacy

Dublin Core


Using Pop Culture to Teach Information Literacy


Using Pop Culture to Teach Information Literacy


What a great time to be a school librarian! We have at our fingertips efficient research methods and resources along with communication toys that quickly become educational tools.
My day is never the same as the one before, and I prefer it that way. I am easily bored. And in my effort to keep my students and me awake and interested during the course of the day and school year, I constantly look for new and improved ways to do things. I love taking the mundane and recreating it into something sparkly and bright that will engage students. That’s my motivation and excuse for exploring, adapting, playing, and integrat- ing popular culture into my library instruction.
Talking is required in my library and I constantly challenge students to question and suggest better ways to do things. I encourage freedom of thought and diverse methods of learning. I keep my library program changing and growing, and I’m not afraid to admit failure. I’ve stood in front of students (more than once) who could barely keep their eyes open and continued to blah, blah, blah my library orientation and information literacy tips despite their apathy and my own boredom. I’ve played the Survivor or The Amazing Race game with students up to the last bell on Friday before a school break and barely survived it myself. I do learn from my mistakes and seem constantly to make new ones. Yet despite my occasional errors or miscalculations, I do keep trying to connect with my students and to help them develop into information-literate young adults.
I have been blessed with a supportive environment that encourages growth and ex- perimentation. As a result, I’ve seen some successes in the past few years. I’ve had gradu- ates return to visit who tell me that they are so much better prepared for college research than their classmates are. Our circulation statistics for fiction and non–curriculum-related reading materials has doubled over the last few years, and we always have a few students who hang out during lunch wanting to talk about books. I actually see students choosing proprietary databases over Internet search engines for both academic and personal information.
I know that most students are far too polite to tell me that they hate the instructional games we play when they come to the library, and I’ve wondered occasionally if I should approach information literacy instruction more seriously as a card-carrying library profes- sional. Nonetheless, I continue using pop culture in my library program because the stu- dents’ verbal and nonverbal feedback indicate that they enjoy the features we’ve added for their pleasure and learning. Students almost always ask to play the library game and to compete for our grand prizes as they enter the library with a class. Teachers assure me that they retain information better and that they see results through their students’ projects and assignments. So who am I to take myself and my job so seriously? I’m giving them what they want and what they are comfortable with. They are part of a generation that under- stands technology, collaborative work, and pop culture. I am here to serve them and to educate them, and I choose to use the tools that interest them.
I challenge you to make your information literacy instruction come alive with the sug- gestions in the following chapters or to find that certain something that you and your stu- dents find interesting and fun. I plead with you to lighten up and not to take yourself and your job so seriously and to allow a little fun into your library. Watch how quickly students respond and enjoy using the pop culture themes.
A special thanks goes out to the students of St. Ursula Academy who have partici- pated, enjoyed, and even encouraged my instructional methods. These young women are proving to be very prepared for a changing world, and I’m proud to be a part of their edu- cation and growth as lifelong learners.


Linda D. Behen




Linda D. Behen, “Using Pop Culture to Teach Information Literacy,” Portal Ebook UNTAG SURABAYA, accessed July 21, 2024,