Faculty profile: Karen Markey


Karen’s past research has focused on subject access, online searching, visual resources, and information literacy. Most recently, she and her research team have designed, developed, deployed, and evaluated BiblioBouts, an online game that students play while they write a research paper. BiblioBouts is funded by a three-year grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The game puts professional research tools into students' hands and gives them repeated practice in using these tools to find, evaluate, and select high-quality information for their papers. Students search for sources online, choose the best ones to put into play, rate and tag their opponents' sources, and compile a best bibliography of sources for a topic of interest from a pool of all players' sources. When the game ends, students are ready to write their papers using the high-quality bibliography, online citations, and digital full texts that are the result of game play.

Whereas early evaluations focused on improving BiblioBouts’ features and game-like capabilities, recent evaluations demonstrate learning gains. Game players encounter many more sources on a topic than they would have found on their own. They are less likely to put off their research until the last moment. They gain valuable practice using new tools for conducting library research. They learn a methodology for evaluating sources, and they realize that the sources in library portal-based databases are higher quality than Google and the web.

In 2010, Karen won the University of Michigan Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize for BiblioBouts. The prize recognizes faculty who have developed innovative approaches to teaching that incorporate creative pedagogies. 

Karen Markey is a professor at the School of Information and joined the faculty in 1987. She teaches the organization of information, collection development, and online searching. She has a BA in the history of art from The Johns Hopkins University, an MLS in information studies and a PhD in library and information science from Syracuse University.