Category Archives: Information literacy

It’s Fair Use Week (@FairUseWeek)

This week, February 20-24, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of #FairUseWeek. Fair use and fair dealing are essential concepts for students and educators to appreciate. Patent, trademark, and copyright laws protect intellectual property. If we were to prohibit the use of all intellectual property, there would be limited inventions, innovations, creativity, and scholarship.

So, how can you determine when you can legally use someone’s work without permission? Four factors should be considered when deciding whether fair use applies, as illustrated in the accompanying graphic.

Have you ever searched for an image using Google? In that case, you may have noticed that each image displayed is accompanied by a statement, “Images may be subject to copyright.” Click on “Learn More,” and Google takes you to a support page offering legal answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about copyright and fair use.

If you need clarification on whether using someone else’s work is permissible, ask how honest, fair-minded persons would handle the situation. Would reasonable persons agree with your approach? If not, here are a few guidelines to follow:

    • Consider whether you can pare a long quote and still be able to make your point in class.
    • Consider whether your use might have an impact on the interests of the copyright holder? For example, should you copy your entire textbook and share it with another student, or consider another route?
    • Fully acknowledge all sources. This is why its important to learn how to cite references correctly.

What is “fair use”?

As the Fair Use Week website reminds us: “Fair use and fair dealing are essential limitations and exceptions to copyright, allowing the use of copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright holder under certain circumstances.” These flexible doctrines allow “copyright to adapt to new technologies,” facilitating a balance in “copyright law, promoting further progress and accommodating freedom of speech and expression.”

Fair use allows students to quote portions of the work of others in their essays and term papers, instructors to play excerpts of videos in the classroom, and journalists to use snippets in news reports. The concept protects free speech while fulfilling one of the purposes of copyright: to promote creative expression.

To gain a better understanding of fair use as the term is applied in copyright law, and what fair use contributes to the economy, innovation, and creativity, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) created an infographic, Fair Use Fundamentals.

Celebrations this week

Celebrations designed to highlight and promote the opportunities presented by fair use and fair dealing, celebrate successful stories, and explain these doctrines are abundant. For example, on Thursday, February 23, you could choose to spend your lunch hour (well, 1,5 hours, from 12:00-1:30) attending the online/virtual event followed by a panel discussion sponsored by the Metropolitan New York Library Council and Library Futures, Why does copyright and fair use matter for libraries and librarians?

More on fair use

The Copyright Alliance has a series of short videos on its Trending Topics subsite about the fair use doctrine, the four fair use factors, common fair use mistakes, and how to apply fair use today. The webpage concludes with a set of links to fair use blogs + six cases that explore the bounds of fair use.

Many library associations and academic libraries feature LibGuides on copyright and fair use. Examples of these include:

NOVA Librarian Julie Combs manages a research guide on copyright and fair use to remind faculty about the importance of observing copyright law and understanding how the four factors of fair use might apply to their teaching and any research they conduct.

Test your knowledge

How much do you know about the Fair Use Doctrine? Test your knowledge at the University of Colorado Boulder Library by reviewing two examples of fair use or its interactive quiz, “Is it Fair Use? It Depends!”

Oregon State University’s Copyright and Fair Use resource guide includes a worksheet to help you decide if your use of someone’s copyrighted work is “fair use.”

It’s National News Literacy Week (#NewsLiteracyWeek)!

According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, there is a general lack of faith in societal institutions. Edelman recommends becoming an advocate for the truth: “Be a source of reliable information, promote civil discourse, and hold false information sources accountable.” How does one do this? RumorGuard identifies five factors for evaluating credibility of social media posts:

    • Is it authentic?
    • Was it posted and confirmed by a credible source?
    • Is evidence presented that proves the claim?
    • Is the context clear?
    • Is it based on solid reasoning, free of biases?

News literacy is an essential life skill

NOVA students often turn to the news media as they collect facts and information to support essay theses and write their term papers. Making sure that students know how to access authoritative sources is reinforced in library instruction and information literacy sessions conducted by NOVA librarians.

This year’s National News Literacy Week celebrations begin on January 23. There are a series of web-based events scheduled, including:

January 23, 5-6PM – Critical reading to identify credible evidence: Conversation with Dr. Jeff Wilhelm, Boise University, about his forthcoming book, Fighting Fake News: Teaching Students to Identify and Interrogate Information Pollution. REGISTER

January 23, 6-7PM – We regret the error: Public trust and media accountability. REGISTER

January 26, 1-2PM – Celebrate National News Literacy Week with Teens for Press Freedom. REGISTER

January 26, 2-3PM – Your brain and misinformation: Why people believe lies and conspiracy theories. REGISTER

If you need to time shift, the National News Literacy Week 2023 YouTube channel will carry updates.

Assuring diversity of expertise

Instructors frequently ask students to consult scholarly publications to ensure they tap into the best minds available in each subject domain. Sometimes, this limits diversity of opinion. If your native language is not English or you reside in the Global South, the hurdles of getting published in top academic journals are difficult to overcome. There are, however, several websites and databases that actively see to include diverse perspectives and alternative viewpoints. For example:

Resources in our library

As Lisa Peet noted in her 2021 March 18 Library Journal article, Ithaka Library Director Survey on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Antiracism Reveals Disconnects, libraries are reassessing “their perspectives and strategies around diversity, equity, inclusion (EDI), and racism.” The NOVA libraries are no exception. Two databases in our collection stand out:

  • ProQuest’s Ethnic NewsWatch includes newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic and minority press.
  • EBSCO’s LGBTQ+ Source database includes journals, newspapers, and books about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and allied subject matter.

NOVA’s Antiracism LibGuide helps students explore the history and conditions that led to the unrest of 2020 through books/e-books, articles, videos, and podcasts. The section of the LibGuide devoted to Tools for Taking Action provides a roadmap for those in the NOVA Community wishing to get involved.

Recommendations for faculty

To expand the range of non-white perspectives assigned to students, instructors might review the syllabi of courses taught at Tribal Colleges and Universities and Historically Black Colleges to see which texts assigned for courses similar to the ones they are teaching.

Becoming data literate

The NOVA library staff helps students learn about career options that suit their skills and interests. Over the past few years, we’ve noticed a significant number of students exploring careers involving data: Data scientist, data analyst, data architect, data engineer, and more.

As we progress towards a data economy, data literacy is becoming increasingly important in the workplace, no matter your profession. Gartner predicts that “by 2023, data literacy will become essential in driving business value.”

In the 21st Century, everyone needs a certain level of data literacy competence. Everyone consumes data (discrete stats) as they read news articles or blog posts. Sometimes data are mentioned in the text; other times presented in a chart or graph. At some point, most of us will have to compile data from multiple sources. To accomplish this, we’ll all need to master:

  • When to use mean or medium, averages or ranges, frequencies or percentages
  • How to distinguish correlation from causation
  • Determine when it’s appropriate to use a pie or bar chart, line or clustering graph
  • Where to find (and how to cite) data/statistics.
Data literacy
Related elements of data literacy.

What is data literacy?

Statistical literacy is the ability to read and interpret numeric information, whether presented in text, table, or graphic format. “Gartner defines data literacy as the ability to read, write and communicate data in context, including an understanding of data sources and constructs, analytical methods and techniques applied, and the ability to describe the use case, application and resulting value.”

Data literate individuals can find, evaluate, analyze, use, and create data, statistics, and visualizations responsibly. It’s important to not only be a good data consumer—critically assessing the data presented—but be able to communicate data by putting it into context for others. In addition to reading and working with data, one must be effective when communicating data, including responsibly reporting the results of a study and presenting these results in tables and graphics to make data digestible and easy to understand.

Data literacy includes the ability to:

  • Assess data sources and collection methods
  • Provide context for raw numbers via tables, charts, and graphs
  • Tell a story through data.

Ethical use of data includes not cherry-picking data to offer in support of a hypothesis, using a scale proportionate to the data, i.e., not manipulating the y axis of a graph.

Data literacy resources at the NOVA libraries

The books in our collection are shelved according to the Library of Congress (LC) classification scheme. All books about data are shelved using the call number QA76.9; those about statistics use QA276. If you’re not in the library and want to access an e-book on data or statistics, go to our homepage and type the call number (QA76.9 or QA276) into the search box. Our catalog will reveal the titles you have access to online via our library subscriptions. If you happen to be in another library that uses the LC classification scheme, you’ll know which shelf to peruse there too.

Additional resources

Academic librarians point students to creditable resources covering coursework delivered at their institutions. The Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, University of South Florida St. Petersburg Campus has created a Data Literacy Teaching Toolkit, replete with instructional activities and resources for faculty to use as they teach data literacy skills.

In its Science and Information Literacy Resources Guide, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has devoted a section to Data Information Literacy Resources and Publications.  Individual institutions have created Resource Guides, such as Rutgers University Libraries Data Literacy and University Libraries, Washington University in St. Louis Data Literacies.

If you want to learn more about creating elegant and impactful visuals, take a look at the resources available on the Information is beautiful website. Another fun site to check what’s wrong with so many graphics is Junk Charts. Finally, as journalists often have to create their own charts, there’s a resource that they use, The Journalists’ ToolBox.

How data literate are you?

When reading a news article or research study, can you assess data sources and collection methods? Put your data literacy to the test at

If you could use a refresher, the video tutorials from Eastern Michigan University librarians provide an overview of data literacy and some of the elements discussed in this blog, such as:

Finally, DataProfessor created a series of data science videos in 2020 on YouTube. He also points you to other data scientist videos so that you can access “the best.” Check them out.

October 24-30 is Global Media and Information Literacy Week

Each year, the world celebrates the last week in October as Media Literacy Week, promoting media, digital, and information literacy. It’s a time for reviewing progress made towards UNESCO’s Media and Information Literacy for All programme. A list of celebrations for this year, global media and information literacy awards 2021, and additional resources can be accessed here.

The UN General Assembly resolution commemorating this week cites the need for disseminating factual, timely, targeted, clear, accessible, multilingual, and science-based information. The resolution notes the digital divide and data inequalities existing in the world and recommends addressing them “by improving people’s competencies to seek, receive and impart information in the digital realm.

What is Media Literacy?

According to Common Sense Media, “media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they are sending.” This requires learning to think critically; becoming smarter consumers of products and information; recognizing opinions, points of view, and multiple perspectives of topics; creating media responsibly; understanding the role of media in our culture; and appreciating an author’s goal and possible biases.

A subset of media literacy, “digital literacy specifically applies to media from the internet, smartphones, video games, and other nontraditional sources,” including skills and ethical obligations when creating digital media. For more, consult this Media Literacy Now video.

How can you participate in Media Literacy Week events?

Media Literacy Week calls attention to media literacy education through events and activities across the country and around the world. Each day of Media Literacy Week celebrates one of the five components of media literacy: Access, Analyze, Evaluate, Create, and Act.

In the United States, Media Literacy Week is hosted by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). The organization is “dedicated to advancing media literacy education in the United States.” The organization’s mission “is to highlight the power of media literacy education and its essential role in education.” The NAMLE site has media literacy resources for students; educators, including a link to the association’s Journal of Media Literacy Education, an online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal; and parents, such as A Parent’s Guide to Media Literacy. For more about the State of Media Literacy Education in the U.S., consult the NAMLE Report, Snapshot 2019.

Events to consider attending

Many Media Literacy Week events are being held online this year. Daily events throughout the week sponsored by NAMLE can be found here. You might also check out the events sponsored by Canada’s MediaSmarts, such as Understanding Algorithms and their Impacts (Monday, October 25, 7-8PM via Zoom) or the Identifying and Discovering Resources Escape Room, and more.  Additional MediaSmarts resources are available for parents and teachers.

On Wednesday, October 20, Pen America ( hosts an interactive media literacy workshop, Media Literacy in Tribal Communities and Protecting Collective Health. Register for the 3PM webinar. .

Additional media literacy resources

NOVA librarians consult many media literacy resources as we prepare to deliver library instruction to classes on-campus or via Zoom. Here are just a few of our favorites:

Center for Media Literacy Literacy for the 21st Century: An Overview & Orientation Guide To Media Literacy Education, 2d edition

Free and open online courses are available for self-paced learning about Media and Information Literacy

California Department of Education Media Literacy Resources for the Classroom

Monmouth University library’s Media Literacy & Misinformation Research Guide

News Literacy Project

Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers by Mike Caulfield

If you can think of another resource, or a Media Literacy Week event you’ve enjoyed, post a comment and we’ll add it to the list.

Creating your first annotated bibliography

You’ve received an assignment from your instructor to create an annotated bibliography. “What’s that,” you say. The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University defines a bibliography as “a list of sources (books, journals, Web sites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic.” In an annotated bibliography, each entry contains crucial information about the work, in the form of a citation. A summary of the major points made by the author(s) and an evaluation of the resource complete the entry.

Finding a source for your annotated bibliography

The works you cite in your paper—your reference list—form the basis for your annotated bibliography. Whether you use the library or the web to locate resources for your term paper or essay, you want to be sure that these are authoritative works by credible sources. Look for “academic” or “scholarly” publications. Academic/scholarly articles can be reviewed by an editor before being published or peer-reviewed by experts in the field. For more on this subject, consult the NOVA Libraries LibGuide, How to Identify Scholarly Information, or take a look at this video tutorial created by the University of Kansas Libraries.

Citing resources properly

There are several ways to cite a resource. Your instructor will likely tell you which format to use. If this is not clear in your assignment, confirm the required citation format before beginning your research.

The American Psychology Association (APA) and Modern Language Association of America (MLA) formats differ slightly; both require similar elements, such as the author (or authors), title of the source (e.g., article), the “container” of the source (e.g., journal), publisher, and date of publication. Additional elements for each work cited depends on the format of the work. For more information, as well as examples for each type of resource, consult the NOVA Research Guide for Citing Sources.

Your citation serves as the header to your annotation with a .5 hanging indent. The paragraph that follows should be indented one inch. (This is the same formatting you use for a block quote.) The annotated bibliography should be double-spaced.

Summarizing each entry in your bibliography

In 1-3 sentences, restate the main points of the article/book/video/website you are including in this bibliography. Identify the author and the intended audience for the work. Using your own words to describe the arguments and ideas expressed by the author will demonstrate how well you understood the major concepts of the topic. Remember to maintain objectivity and use third-person pronouns (e.g., he, she, the author(s), they).

Evaluating each resource

Once you’ve told readers what they will find if they look at the resource you’ve cited, you can add your opinion of the source. Use 1-3 sentences to tell the reader—your instructor or fellow classmates, for example—what the source contributes to your research question or project. In this portion of the entry, you can:

  • Identify any special features of the work that were helpful to you, such as tables, charts or graphs, or an extensive bibliography of additional resources.
  • Tell the reader about the author’s background and what makes him/her/them a credible source of information about this subject.
  • Comment on whether the work is suited for its intended audience.
  • Indicate any bias you’ve noticed, helping your classmates by making them aware of what to look out for if they use this work for their research project. This will demonstrate to your instructor that you have mastered information literacy and critical thinking skills.
  • Comment on the observations of the authors and how you agree or disagree with their conclusions.

Additional resources

This is a lot of information to pack into @150-200 words! Use what you’ve learned in English classes to help you pare the information presented to what’s essential for the reader to know. Here’s a video to remind you of the process for creating an annotated bibliography.







Researching health and wellness among minority communities

Health disparities among communities in the United States exist. Social vulnerabilities put minorities at disproportionate risk of all sorts of chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and obesity.

How can we understand what is going on in our communities and efforts to mitigate the effects of poor air/water quality, an absence of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, and even the lower education levels that can exacerbate health disparities? Using our information literacy skills, let’s identify some quality resources so we can understand the current situation and how it can be improved.

Resources from the federal government

The U.S. government has a wealth of data and information that can be mined to uncover ways in which people’s health can be improved. If you’re curious about the government’s objectives for health data collection in the current decade, you’ll find that at

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Minority Health subsite features an e-newsletter, Health Equity Matters, a blog (Conversations in Equity), and various health disparities/strategies reports. State and local programs using “culturally tailored interventions to address preventable risk behaviors” are funded by Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) funds.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) publishes reports and statistical briefs on racial/ethnic minorities, as well as children/adolescents, the elderly, low-income, rural/inner-city residents, and women. A good starting point for your research might be the Minority Health fact sheets.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) website contains health profiles of American Indian and Alaskan Natives, Asian Americans, Black/African Americans, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. The OMH Resource Center’s collection of books, documents, reports, journal articles, and media is searchable via the online catalog. Consumer health materials are available in more than 40 languages. If you want to find national or regional organizations providing health information to minority communities, use the Advanced Search option (format=organization).

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities examines factors contributing to health disparities among underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minorities. Also look at the resources targeted for each of the populations mentioned above in MedlinePlus.

State and local governments

Some federal agency studies present minority health data at the state or local level. There are organizations of state and local authorities concerned with health disparities as well. For example:

  • The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) tracks health disparity regulation.
  • The National Association of County Health Officials (NACCHO) has a program that supports efforts to confront the causes of unequal distribution of disease and health resources, Health Equity and Social Justice. Its six-module Roots of Health Inequity course is open to individuals and groups.

Not-for-profit organizations conducting research

Several health organizations fund research through partnerships with not-for-profits or universities. “Healthy Communities” is the focus of research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWF). For example, RWF funds the Advancing Health Equity initiative at the University of Chicago.

Minority Health Journals

Some publications dedicated to minority health issues are available through NOVA Libraries’ online databases, such as EBSCO Academic Search, while others can be accessed via the web. In addition, several titles that remain behind publisher firewalls have open access versions allowing the public to read articles covering minority health on their site, or via PubMed. Here’s a list of a few open access publications:

American Journal of Public Health 

Ethnicity & Disease 

Ethnicity & Health

Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 

SSM (Social Science & Medicine) Population Health 

Journal of health, population and nutrition 



April is Financial Literacy Month

You may have heard librarians talk about information literacy or perhaps media literacy (“fake news”) during library instruction sessions. Through the past year you may have discovered a “new” need to focus on health or financial literacy. As April is Financial Literacy Month, we thought we’d help you apply what you’ve learned from us about information literacy to the realm of finance.

Important literacies to master

What is financial literacy?

According to the Center for Financial Inclusion, “financial literacy is the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage one’s financial resources effectively for lifetime financial security.” NOVA students may think about finances when it comes time to fill out financial aid forms, but financial literacy is an essential skill to build and exercise throughout your life. Some of the new fintech and neobanks make it easier than ever to make good financial decisions for saving and investing, prompting users to remember to save through digital savings apps, budget planning and spending tracking, monitoring credit and paying down debt.

Sifting for financial literacy

When seeking financial guidance, try using the SIFT method:


When you’re looking at a website or other source of information, STOP and start with a plan. Consider what you want to know and the purpose of your current inquiry. Where is this information likely to be found? Who might have looked into this before?

Think about the site you are viewing, who made it, and why. Is this the best resource to tap? Can you gauge their expertise in this area by reviewing their academic and professional credentials? Usually, a quick check is enough, but sometimes you’ll want a deep investigation to verify all claims made and check all the sources.

Investigate the source

Know the author’s expertise and the motives of the publisher of the information so that you can interpret it free of bias. Verify the information by seeing what others have to say about the source. Do other sites/resources concur?

A fact-checking site may help. Snopes and AllSides might be familiar to some; as journalists often need to verify their sources, you could look at the Society of Professional Journalist’s Toolbox and employ some of their tactics. Just as there are political fact-checkers, such as and Truth or Fiction, there are fact-checkers for financial sites too, including the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Read carefully and consider while you click. Rather than reading one article to the end, open multiple tabs for lateral reading.

Find trusted coverage

Look for the best information on a topic by scanning multiple sources. Find an in-depth analysis and read multiple viewpoints. Don’t forget to look beyond the first few results returned from your search, bypassing the ads that appear at the top of many Google searches. (You can avoid this by using The MarkUp’s extension for Firefox and Chrome Browsers, Simple Search, that eliminates the extraneous material that crowds that first page of results returned in a Google or Bing search.)

Trace to the original

Don’t consider claims or quotes as gospel; trace them back to the original source to be sure that individuals have been quoted accurately and in context.  Think about what might have been clipped out of a story, a photo, or video. What might have happened just before or after? When a research paper is mentioned in a news story, go to the original document to be sure that the study has been accurately reported. Find the original source to see the context so you can decide if the version you have is accurately presented.  For example, if you’re consulting Wikipedia, scroll down to the references, using the links to view to the original.

If you are interested in learning more about the SIFT method, check out 2019 Mike Caufield’s blog, SIFT (The Four Moves) or his YouTube video series, Online Verification Skills

Gamification of financial literacy

Financial educators recognize the importance of gaming apps that are designed to help consumers understand the ins and outs of financial investing. was founded at Carnegie Mellon University’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. The website has a translator of financial terms into plain English, a podcast, and goal-setting challenges for those seeking an understanding of student loans, the S&P 500, auto loans, credit cards, Roth IRAs, and 401Ks. The site features three simulators: Time Portal (, Stock Market (, and Crisis Calculator ( Try them out – or look for the Troutwood app in the Apple store where you’ll find a great Buy Sell Hold simulation.

Additional resources

To get you started on your financial learning program, here are additional resources to explore:

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has a website ( designed to help you understand personal finance. provides free online financial education courses through instructor assignments or self-study; customizable financial worksheets, a budget wizard, quizzes, and calculators; a personal dashboard for tracking your progress; articles/resources; and a guide to real-life money questions.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ( contains educational resources to help consumers make better, more informed financial decisions.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) website employs game-based learning in their computer-based instruction tool, Money Smart. Modules help adults learn how to better manage their finances. All modules are available in English and Spanish.

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Information website features a blog and resources about saving/spending money wisely, credit/debt, housing, and work/school.

Khan Academy has a series of Personal Finance life skill advice and resources to guide users into making better decisions.

Congress established a Federal Financial Literacy and Education Commission in 2003. The Commission’s website,, features information, games, and fun facts about money, saving, and planning for the future. Lesson plans on the site serve as a resource of federally-funded research reports and articles on financial topics.

FINNY creates bite-sized, personalized learning opportunities covering any topic that might interest you: budgeting, saving more, managing taxes, insurance, investing, and more. is chock full of resources for learning about topics such as evaluating your finances and understanding credit. It includes resources for teaching children about finance too.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has gathered resources on to help individuals “make sound investment decisions and avoid fraud.” has free online courses for learning at your own pace, on your own time. Topics are timely, such as crisis and fraud, education and career, family and finances, holidays and money, housing and transportation, insurance and taxes, retirement and aging, saving and investing, spending and borrowing.

Look for college business school courses that have developed websites for financial literacy education, such as Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy. Several academic libraries, eager to support their instructors and students, have developed LibGuides on the subject. Find one on the web that meets your needs.