Monday, April 10, 2006

Workplace information literacy seminar

This is a first report on a seminar which Ola Pilerot and I ran for the Svensk Förening för Infospecialister. Ola is Deputy Head Librarian at Skövde University Library, in Stockholm, Sweden. The outcomes for the seminar were that by the end of the seminar, delegates would have: learnt about some of the information habits of people at work, as discovered by research and practical examples; examined their own information habits and roles as working people, and; identified some ways in which they can develop the information literacy of their clients/users for those clients’/users’ current or future role as workers.

There were 15 delegates from a variety of workplaces: a number of university librarians, a couple of people from hospital libraries, an information consultant, also people from the government and corporate sector. The venue was the Finlandshuset, which had elegant decorations (you are likely to see more photos over the next week or so). Rooms were named after Finnish cultural figures and ours was the Lönnrot room, named for the person who put together the Kalevala (see photo above).

In the morning there were two parts: a presentation which Ola and I collaborated on, and an exercise for delegates. We began by talking about the concept of information literacy. I talked through the definition developed by me and Bill Johnston, highlighting, for example, that when we talk about “appropriate information behaviour” we mean that information literate people will be able to decide for themselves what kind of information behaviour is appropriate in different circumstances. So, for example, in some cases it is quite appropriate to do a very quick search using a convenient search engine, it doesn’t mean you always have to do the “best” kind of search.

One type of information behaviour that I talked about was "information encountering", which is something I learnt about for the first time when I read about Sanda Erdelez' research in the following article. Since then I have used it quite a few times for discussion with students, including using (with Dr Erdelez' permission) her questionnaire to help students diagnose their own information behaviour.

Erdelez, S. (1999) "Information encountering: it's more than just bumping into information." Bulletin of the ASIS, 25 (3).
http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Feb-99/erdelez.html

1 comment:

Plone Glenn said...

You folks might be interested in this recent blog post which lists 9 skills for workplace literacy on the social web. Though these skills are non-technical, they have become relevant due to recent trends in technology.

Because so much collaboration is now through the web and because we rely on visual cues a lot to get our social information, we must develop new skills to compensate for this new way of doing business.