Benjamin Harris from Trinity University gave an engaging presentation based on his contributed conference paper, which was more theoretical in tone and style, and used the theory to start discussion about the practical side of things.

Why should we talk about images in relation to IL?

* because students are media driven–from TV, music, comics, graphic novels
* our lives are media-driven, image-driven
* critical thinking issue-someone mentioned the prosciutto man exercise-using images of a guy sliced into parts like puzzle pieces. students have to pieces images back together to learn anatomy. Good visual problem solving)
* not so text dominant, oral/aural divide

Why haven’t we addressed visual literacy yet? We’re usually on a 50-min. mission to get students to find what they need to complete assignments and if they don’t have to find images then we don’t have time to spend on it.
Right now, we’re not playing catch up; we’re right on our game but we still have to stay with students and help them find things that are useful for their work. Images may be more important down the line and it’s best to be prepared.

7 considerations for why you should consider why you should think about visual literacy in IL

* Words are images, letters are images (pictographs, hieroglyphics) that represent sounds. We’re already doing visual lit!
* Images are information-we read them in a different way.
o No smoking icon–MN just passed the ban
o Bar graph of Schiavo case information (should feeding tube be removed–CNN graph skewed to make it look like Dems were way more in favor of removing tube when the numerical difference was small. Bloggers called CNN on it.)
* Reading images requires critical thinking
* images w/words and images w/o words are different messages (often given less guidance with no-word images; we could all come to different conclusions) He showed an image of a smiling black woman and asked what we thought (nice pleasant woman) and then reveled that it was an ad for Prozac. Character of image changes w/o words and with them.
* Images are already there probably (in your library home page). You’re doing something already if you are mentioning the design features on your website that help navigation.
* Design of site also a part of site evaluation (what do the images say about bias, currency, advertising)
o Family Education site ( content but huge ad in the middle and the color of the heading images caused too much blending together of categories
* Exploration of ethical, cultural and political context of texts/images
o Picture of smiling black man in chef’s cap revealed to be racist 1921 ad for Cream of Wheat
o Image of young woman-elementary school teacher revealed to be part of ad against Prop. No. 6 law in CA, a law which would have allowed teachers to be fired for suspicion of homosexuality (law didn’t pass)

In closing, he noted that after school, students probably won’t have to write 5 pg paper with 3 sources from print journals, but they will always need to evaluate the images they see around them.

The Q&A brought up two interesting points. One commenter posited that the only difference between the poster against the anti-gay law and the Cream of Wheat ad was because we believe in cause of one but not the other. I didn’t agree with that and neither did Harris, and in talking to him afterward I was able to better articulate why. One image was an unconscious reflection of stereotypes of the day and one was explicitly used to challenge them.

Another interesting comment from the peanut gallery was from a media librarian who taught a class in which the professor had told their students that they could use anything from Google Images with no credit in their website projects and that it was OK because it was for educational purposes and therefore fair use! (Harris, in showing his Works Cited, mentioned that we can also bring up IP issues that students are often careless about.)

As for find images to work with and incorporate into IL, he admitted it was difficult. All our systems privilege words and that’s probably not going to change soon.