Librarians Know How to Find Stuff

Using Innovative Techniques to Promote Information Literacy and Student Buy-in

Matt Upson (formerly of Miller Library, McPherson College) and C. Michael Hall (who couldn’t be present)

Creators of Library of the Living Dead

Guide can be printed from here

Downloaded 1.3 million times. Cited in LJ, SLJ, ALA journals.

This isn’t how to make a comic. It’s more to inspire the audience to do what works for their libraries & inspire creativity. The comic book worked for McPherson College.

Developing the relationships.

Quotes from Education Nation; one by George Lucas in the foreword & George Leonard quote on p21.

“We want students to know how to find information, how to assess the quality of information, and how tto creativiely and effectively use information to accomplish a goal.” –George Lucas, foreword to Education Nation

“We must consider the possibility that students are justified in being bored, that we have been too cautious and unimaginiative….Perhaps the moment has come to show our young people that school [or a library] is where the action is” p21 of Education Nation


Before Matt came to McPherson, the library was pretty deserted; didn’t come into study; didn’t even know the library existed. Handouts in in-class instruction were about as useful as a seatbelt in trying to reach students.

How to get the students in the building?

They published a comic book.

Mike was an illustrator, non-conventional student.

Introduction to the book explains the purpose of the comic book/guide.

Made it attention-grabbing, yet informative. Followed the ACRL standards.

It was a small college–they saw a need and tried to meet it.

In creating a unique guide, break stereotypes, poke fun at yourself.

12 page introduction to the library. Their attention was grabbed. Then the instructional handouts are then incorporated into the comic book.

Goals to do so…

  • Provide an excellent intro to library services
  • Be creative and a little irreverent
  • Save time
  • Encourage familiarity with the library
  • get students involved in the process
  • let the students know that the library cares about their academic success and is actively involved in their education
  • quality product
  • took the talents they had in-house to develop it

Unintended Results

  • Well over 1 million hits — provided great marketing for McPherson College
  • McPherson wants to hand these out at college fairs
  • Unique artifact that no other school has.
  • Advocacy tool. Unique resource that grabs the attention of your school board or board or leaders.
  • Other libraries are now using this tool; didn’t plan for it to be utilitarian.
  • It looks fantastic as a digital version on mobile devices and tablets.
  • Quickly got around library community, as a digital resource, thanks to social media.

Milton Chen comment: This is proving: A lot of the best curriculum can be taught through story.

Back to the comic.

They took cues from the real library, photographs, photos of people to build it. The characters are never named. It’s just a story in a familiar place. Students were transferred over into comic form.

Get your community involved

  • teaser poster of the cover
  • Facebook
  • Signing Party: 40 students showed up
  • QR Codes

He contacted LJ, American Libraries, pestered them to look at his resource. People finally did and wrote about it, and it took off.

He’s connected with many people all over the library community in the US and the world.

Anyone can use it and has, in their libraries.

What can you do?

  • Fun: The OH COOL Factor
  • Different: Make them (students, faculty, parents, admin) see the library in new ways
  • Quality: do something that can be done well
  • Involvement and Buy-in: include reps from all areas of your school. Who are the stakeholders? Can you find a sponsor or collaborator?

Can share your ideas and resources with the entire world, even unexpectedly.

They are working on comic guides for several other libraires.