Workshop Outline

Exploring “Hidden” Resources: Introduction to Consumer Reports on the UFL Website

Do you feel like librarians have secrets and “insider” knowledge about the library? Did you know you can access Consumer Reports (and many popular magazines online) from any computer, for free? Do you ever want to find expert reviews of products before you buy them? Did you hear something about a “voluntary manufacturer recall” and want to know more? We will learn how to access and use Consumer Reports electronically, explore the differences between using this library-provided resource and searching in Google, and much more! Come learn a “hidden” treasure of the library at this free 90-minute workshop! All skill levels are welcome.

1. Introduction: Free Write and Share (5-10 minutes) (allow for late start as needed)

Welcome! Share names and a quick sentence on what brought you here today. (5 minutes)

Free write (5 minutes): take a little time to think about the following questions and write down some thoughts. There are no “wrong” answers – you all have life experience and knowledge to share. We will spend the next 20 minutes sharing and discussing our ideas, so please don’t feel pressured to get down “everything” – just a starting point, or some notes to help you remember what you were thinking.

Questions: How do you currently search for and find trustworthy information? Where do you go? What do you do? How do you know what you find is “reliable” or “useful?”

2. Brainstorm/Discussion: Concept Map (20 minutes)

Begin with sharing some initial thoughts from the free-write. What experiences are shared? Are there larger issues going on?

Continue discussion with the following activity.

As a group, concept-map (or take notes) onto flip chart/white board/projector screen, etc. following questions:

    • Who uses the library’s electronic resources? Why or why not?
    • Does anyone ever feel anxious asking librarians for help?
    • [Introduce concept of “library anxiety”] What do you think about this idea? Do you think it is true? Completely false? Not complex enough?
    • How would you describe the library’s electronic resources? How are they presented? How are they perceived?
    • How do we currently search for, locate, and evaluate information [refer to free-write]? How could those skills we already possess be useful in a new resource, like Consumer Reports online?

3. Break: (5-10 minutes) OPTIONAL

4. Technology Practice: (45-50 minutes)

    • Teaching skills which align with the information-seeking processes already in place!

Guided practice or lecture (30 minutes)

  • Introduction to the Library Homepage (5 minutes)
    • Overview of links, tabs, pages.
    • Encourage exploration later, and point out help desks, tech volunteers.
    • Getting to Consumer Reports (5 minutes)
      • From a networked library computer
      • From any other computer, as a “remote user”
    • Consumer Reports home page (10 minutes)
      • Ratings/reviews – by category, by search term, A-Z list
      • Recalls/safety – from home page
      • Site Features – categories of other resources
    • Issue: Site updates/changes! What is the use of learning something, if it will change?
      • What could we do now to prepare for this? What skills would this take?
      • What are the social implications of design changes? In other mediums?
    • Comparing to Google (10 minutes)
      • Sample item search: in Consumer Reports.
      • Search Google – use patron feedback to direct search terms.
        • Example – Kenmore Elite dishwasher reviews? On store websites? On Amazon? Can you trust “customer reviews?” Why/why not?
        • Review sites – who is writing these reviews? Could you easily post a “fake” review here?
      • When would Google be more helpful than Consumer Reports? Should we accept CR‘s reviews as well?

Practice (20 minutes)

Do your own searching! Explore Consumer Reports information that would be pertinent to you, and compare to your own Google search. Try accessing a different library database or service if you want to, and compare that information as well. Do research on an upcoming purchase you may be planning for.

Remind patrons you are here to help, others may be helpful resources, librarians, volunteers, etc. are available during open hours, LibGuides and other tools, to help reduce anxiety on doing skills independently later.

5. Wrap-Up: Discuss, survey, and thank-you’s (5-10 minutes)

    • Remind participants what we covered today.
    • Remind them to share with their friends and family, other patrons, etc. They are experts in their experiences, and better teachers of peers than “experts” who do not understand where they are coming from.
    • Remind them to take extra handouts, tell library staff they loved the program and want it to happen more, be safe getting home, feel free to contact facilitators, etc.

Optional Assessment Tool:

Beg them to complete a quick survey telling staff:

    • One thing they took from today that will help them be more confident searchers for information.
    • One thing they feel could have been done differently to help make them more confident searchers for information.
    • What programs they feel are still needed (this one given again, this as part of a series, etc.)

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