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Tuesday, June 4 • 10:30am - 11:20am
Martin Luther Goes Viral: Using a Rare Book Collection and Printing History to Teach Information Literacy

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Today’s “information revolution” is in many ways a new permutation of the revolution brought on by the “printing revolution” of the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Martin Luther, for example, was a relatively obscure cleric who suddenly found himself addressing the world. This was not intentional on his part, but a new technology allowed his message to “go viral,” and he found himself at the forefront of a revolution. In a similar manner, today’s “digital revolution” has given voice to people who previously had no way to communicate with a wide audience, and has had tremendous social, political, and cultural implications. But it also has implications for students and their research. In this presentation, I would show how I use materials in the rare book collection at Drury’s F. W. Olin Library to teach students lessons on information literacy, and illustrate how I draw parallels between early information technology and that of today. The lessons for students are that we all have a tendency to assign tremendous authority to texts (sometimes even erroneous texts, and we must remember that the Internet is very text-intensive), and that images, whether they be today’s memes or a 16th century woodcut cartoon, sometimes communicate ideas more effectively than a text. Ultimately, I aim make students think about how they approach online texts and materials, and how they judge the validity of source material they find online and elsewhere.


William Garvin

Director, F.W. Olin Library, Drury University

Tuesday June 4, 2019 10:30am - 11:20am CDT