Dom Taylor

Religion and Social Work Librarian

Father Harold Drake Library and Elizabeth Dafoe Library

Catholic Studies Subject Guide

Intro to Library + Critical Reading 

CATH 1190-A01

October 4, 2017

My hope is for you to experience the library as something that is:

  • Useful: it helps with your research and university experience.

  • Usable: it is not difficult to figure out.

  • Desirable: you enjoy your experience in the library or using library systems.


My goal as your librarian

  • We can help you with research: identifying/narrowing a topic, finding references, suggesting keywords (e.g., synonyms), outlining some search strategies.
  • We can help you use library systems (e.g., databases)
  • We can help you with citation
  • We can help you critically evaluate information sources.
  • We can have a conversation about your ideas: sometimes discussing ideas helps clarify them. We can help refine your arguments by providing counter-arguments and pointing you to alternative theories.

What do libraries do?

Library searching

Internet searching


Library catalogue

Academic databases

Scholarly journal articles


Data + Stats


Google Scholar

(mostly) non-scholarly info

(mostly) scholarly info

Pay wall

Adapted from UoM Librarian Kyle Feenstra's (2017) diagram

(mostly) scholarly info

Information landscape

  • How do we know something counts as "good" information?
  • Who gets to create and validate information? Who doesn't?
  • What is meant by expertise? Are official credentials the way to determine this?
  • What counts as trustworthy or credible?
  • Be aware of your own biases (we all have them)!

Evaluating information

Some handy information

Provide you with field-specific information and resources:

  • Databases
  • Encyclopedias and dictionaries
  • Research, writing, and citation tools
  • Relevant associations
  • Other helpful info

Here are some guides that might be useful to your research

Subject guides

Father Harold Drake Library

Elizabeth Dafoe Library

Mondays: 10:30am to 1:30pm

Thursdays: 1:30pm to 4:30pm

Tuesday: 9:00am to 4:00pm

Wednesday: 9:00am to 4:00pm

Friday: 9:00am to 4:00pm



These hours are meant specifically for you and other Catholic Studies students

These hours are meant for all of my students (Religion and Social Work), but you are welcome to book an appointment!

Reference hours

  • Reference through video chat, screen sharing, and/or text chat
  • Provides you with the opportunity to receive assistance from any location with an internet connection and a working computer ( e.g., from home!)
  • No downloading required. All you need is a web browser.
  • Book through my appointment scheduler app

New service: Virtual Reference

  • It is important to be aware of the difference between the meaning (i.e., what is says) and function (i.e., what it does) of text
  • Instead of highlighting take notes and explain what about a given paragraph or point is important to your research:
    • In margins (if it is your book/photocopy)
    • Number paragraphs and write out lengthier ideas/criticisms/notes on a separate document
  • If you don't know the meaning of a word or concept, use a dictionary or a reference source (e.g., CREDO Reference or New Catholic Encyclopedia)
  • Use the CRAAP test!

Critical reading of academic texts

  • Currency: When was the information published? If it is a website, has it been updated recently? This depends on  your research and your instructor's guidelines (e.g., published within the last five years).
  • Relevance: Is the information appropriate for your research? Does it relate directly to your topic?  Is it academic or a blog post)?
  • Authority and/or expertise: Who is the author and what are their credentials/expertise? Is the information peer-reviewed? Are books self-published or published by academic presses? Authority will depend heavily on subject.
  • Accuracy: This is difficult to figure out, but you can look for signs such as citations in the source. Is the claim verifiable? Is there an effort to "make a case" for the perspective put forward?
  • Perspective/purpose:  Is the purpose of the information clear? Does it acknowledge other perspectives/arguments and take time to address them? Is there a clear bias or is it balanced?

There are plenty of academic libraries that use a version of the CRAAP test. My take was inspired by this particular one from Western University.


Critical reading exercise

  1. Draw a line down the middle of your page. Put the header "MEANING" on the left side of the line and "FUNCTION" on the right.
  2. We'll watch a video together one paragraph/section at a time
  3. After each section, write what it means and how it functions.
  4. Remember: the meaning is what the author says to the reader or audience. The function is how the author structures their meaning.

Video: TED Talk

Source: Busari, S. (2017, April). Stephanie Busari: How fake news does real harm [Video file]. Retrieved from



Stephanie Busari (SB) describes a young woman, Hadiza (H). Although the description is mostly positive, SB explains that H has a serious medical issue.

-Establishes the setting 

-Introduces an emotional situation

-Engages the audience with a rhetorical question (avoid overusing this technique)



H is from Chibok, a town in Nigeria. She was kidnapped by Boko Haram, a violent  fundamentalist organization based in Nigeria. Like some of the other kidnapped girls, H manages to escape by jumping off a truck.

-Introduces the "characters"

-Begins to explain the first paragraph's "question"

-Makes the context more concrete (dates, names, numbers)

-Sets this scenario up as the starting point for further discussion. Interest/suspense.


Many people in the world community are upset by the event in (1) and (2). SB is a reporter based in London that is sent to Abuja, Nigeria to cover an Economic Forum. However, the kidnapping becomes the main story.

-Outlines the initial impact of the events in (1) and (2).

-Explains SB's relationship to the events (i.e., how she became involved as a reporter).

-Foreshadows a conflict: between Nigerian government and journalists. Different interests. (directly leads to next paragraph)



SB describes how journalists and others (unclear) demanded answers from the Nigerian government about how it would deal with the kidnapping. Explains that there was a lot of disinformation (i.e., "alternative facts") produced in response to questions. A hoax narrative is created and still exists.

-Introduces the main issue: disinformation 

-Outlines a conflict of interests (journalists and families vs. government and elite)

-Introduces elements of the problem with disinformation (leads into next paragraph)




SB describes the experience of the parents of the kidnapped girls during the kidnapping.

-Attacks the credibility of hoax narrative through appeal to direct testimony.




2 years go by. Chibok girls aren't really mentioned in the news cycle (if the kidnapping is believed at all, the girls are believed to be dead), but SB obtains a proof of life video. She confirms the authenticity with parents. Parents are in agony. 

- Further undermines hoax narrative

-Highlights the harm of misinformation by appealing to the emotional reaction of parents (she appeals to all parents)




Video has an important impact on dispelling the hoax and starting government negotiations with Boko Haram. This leads to the release of some of the kidnapped girls. SB explains how the hoax narrative and the social status of the parents probably delayed negotiations and rescue; this upsets her (more could have been done sooner).

-Provides an explanation of how misinformation may be dispelled. People seemed to more easily believe the video than the testimony of parents. 

-Highlights the non-emotional negative impacts of misinformation. Practical issues that have serious ethical consequences. (leads into the next paragraph)




SB explains how some companies are trying to prevent fake news, but that everyone has a responsibility. This responsibility is more significant in the Internet Age (we can all create and spread information).

- Ties the kidnapping narrative to a larger point about fake news.

-Engages the audience directly




SB relates her role as a journalist to fake news. Further advocates how we should all be focused on asking questions about the information we encounter (before we share and believe it). Details the actual impacts misinformation can have on society (e.g., death, harm, hatred). 

- Relates professional responsibility to wider social responsibility (i.e., we should all be like journalists in relation to information).

-Further engages audience by providing some general ways to prevent misinformation and appealing to negative consequences. Makes a call to action.




Overall view of the text

-To highlight the real harm of misinformation (including "fake news")

-To strongly encourage society to take steps to stop the creation and spead of misinformation

-To provide some strategies on how to deal with misinformation

-Appeal to professional experience and personal experience

-Using an emotionally-charged concrete example to make a larger claim

-Uses testimony, facts, and evidence (e.g., video) to counter misinformation

-Provides some education/tools for audience to use/engage with

  • Does the strategy used by the author achieve it's purpose?
  • What kind of evidence is used? How is it used? How do you know it is accurate?
  • Who is the author? Does she have relevant expertise? Is she credible?
  • Is this the type of strategy that would be good for an academic paper?
  • Think about the CRAAP test.

Some questions to ask

Go to the "Writing Resources" for good research tips and handouts! Also, I will be adding some Social Work Specific resources on the Social Work Subject guide.

The "Student Supports and Services" section has some helpful information. It's best to get an early start on this.

Additional help and tools

  • UoM APA Quick reference guide

= online

APA Resources


Dom Taylor

Religion and Social Work Librarian

Father Harold Drake Library and Elizabeth Dafoe Library

Catholic Studies Subject Guide


CATH 1190-A01: Library Basics and Critical Reading Exercise

By Dom Taylor

CATH 1190-A01: Library Basics and Critical Reading Exercise

Brief introduction to what I services I can offer as your librarian and some of the resources that are available to you. This presentation also includes a reading exercise.

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