News 1999


The Web as a Classroom Resource

The World Wide Web is a rich and valuable information source for school students, report four researchers at McGill University, so long as it is used effectively.

Andrew Large and Jamshid Beheshti(Graduate School of Library and Information Studies), together with Bob Bracewell and Alain Breuleux (department of educational and Counselling Psychology), investigated use of the Web by two grade-six classes over several months.

In their overall reactions to the Web, the students could be divided into three groups. The "technocrats" were enthusiastic about the Web and preferred it to other information resources. They commented that the Web provided access from one location to a vast information store, and that it was much faster to find information from the Web than from books. The "traditionalists", on the other hand, on balance still preferred the well-tried print sources because they knew exactly where to look for information in books, in comparison to which the Web was a morass of disorganized information. The third group, the "pragmatists", appreciated that the Web undoubtedly had strong points, but so did the traditional sources; they tended to see the Web as complementing rather than replacing print. What problems did the students encounter when looking for information on the Web?

First, they often found it difficult to find just the information that was relevant to their class project. Frustration resulted when they either found far too much information to cope with, or else found a small number of sites that subsequently proved irrelevant. Second, the information on the Web, unlike that in encyclopaedias and textbooks specifically written for children, generally was not presented in a suitable way for a grade-six student. The students found it more difficult to process the information in order to incorporate it into their projects. Third, the multimedia capabilities of the Web were under-utilized. Although the students liked the opportunity to find color still images on the Web, they took little notice of sound and video clips, because it was impossible to incorporate them into their poster (the assignment) and required considerable cognitive effort on their part to "translate" visual or aural information into textual information.

What solutions may be proposed? First, students should be taught, by teachers and librarians, how to search more effectively for information on the Web. Information-seeking skills can be acquired, but they are not intuitive; repeated searches will not necessarily enhance these skills, but rather mistakes will be repeated. Second, guidance should be provided to students in site identification. This could be done by creating pathfinders on the Web itself. Thirdly, teachers might like to explore more novel ways for students to present their projects in which they can incorporate video and sound as well as text and still images.

For more information contact:

Professor Andrew Large (Principal Investigator)
Graduate School of Library & Information Studies
McGill University
3459 McTavish
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
H3A 1Y1
Tel: (514) 398-3360



The Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, McGill University, is pleased to announce the promotion of Professor Peter McNally to the rank of Full Professor.

Professor McNally is a leading authority on Canadian library history and has published several volumes and numerous articles on the subject. His research profile also includes works on bibliography and history of books and printing.

Professor McNally has taught in the areas of information sources and bibliographies, history of libraries, books and printing, and social science and humanities information sources. He is currently the president of the Bibliographic Society of Canada and Executive-Secretary of the James McGill Society.

In addition to his many other activities, Professor McNally is on the Advisory Board of A History of Libraries and Culture in the United States, and Libraries and Culture: a Journal of Library History, and on the Editorial Committee of Epilogue: Canadian Bulletin for the History of Books, Libraries, and Archives.

Professor McNally has also been very active at McGill and in the School. He is the Past President of the Newman Association of Montreal, Inc. the Roman Catholic Chaplaincy to McGill University, and the current Deputy Speaker of McGill's Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research Council. In 1996, he initiated and helped the School to launch the Graduate Diploma Program, the first of its kind in Canada.

Professor McNally continues to be a productive member of the School. He is presently developing a proposal for the School to launch another new program, the Graduate Certificate. 


Professional Associate Appointed

The Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, McGill University, is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Eric Bungay to the position of Professional Associate. Mr. Bungay, one of five candidates interviewed for the position, is a recent graduate of the School.

While a student he received the Prize for Highest Standing Throughout the Master of Library and Information Studies Program, the Virginia Murray Prize for Cataloguing, the Ethelwyn M. Crossley Scholarship, and the Syra Deena Tarshis Fleishman Bursary.

Mr. Bungay brings a wealth of knowledge to the position of Professional Associate. He has Bachelor degrees in Science, Education and Arts, with majors in Psychology, English and Teaching. His previous experience includes teaching at the high school level, consulting for a school board, and editing an online journal. In June, Mr. Bungay presented a paper entitled "Bookmobiles in Canada and Newfoundland" at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Library Association in Toronto.

Mr. Bungay will be manager of the School's Web site and the Information Technology Laboratory. He will also teach a graduate course, Web Services, in the MLIS program during the pring 2000 semester.


CN-Pratt-Grinstad Chair in Information Studies - another first for McGill University

The Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at McGill University is pleased to announce that Dr. Andrew Large has been appointed to the newly created CN-Pratt-Grinstad Chair in Information Studies.

The Chair is the first of its kind in Canada, and represents a major step for the School as all internationally recognized centre for research and teaching in the vital field of information studies into the next century. The Graduate School's Director, Dr. Jamshid Beheshti, said: "To have the interest and support of the Canadian National Railway Company and other generous individuals is most gratifying. It conveys the confidence of the corporate community in our work and the importance of information studies in contemporary society."

Canadian National pledged its support for the establishment of a chair in response to McGill's Twenty-First Century Fund appeal in 1995. The company has long played an important role in the development of communications throughout Canada, and it is fitting that its name now should be associated in perpetuity with a chair in the field of information studies.

Phebe Pratt was the daughter of the construction magnate who built Toronto's Royal York Hotel and Montreal's Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul. She graduated from McGill with a Bachelor of Library Science in 1939. Following the Second World War she lectured at the McGill Library School and actively supported various libraries in Montreal. Mrs. Pratt died in 1983, generously bequeathing to the (then) Graduate School of Library Science a significant endowment.

These two gifts have recently been combined with a second bequest to the University from Sif Viveke Grinstad, a resident of London, Ont. Although she had no formal relationship to McGill, Miss Grinstad believed in the University's capacity to initiate change, and her contribution lends support to this notable collective achievement. Therefore, a combination of these three exceptional gifts with one common inspiration has created the CN-Pratt-Grinstad Chair in Information Studies.

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