Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Another new book

Another new book that looks interesting is:
Breivik, P.S. and Gee, E.G. (2006) Higher education in the internet age. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0275981940. Price £28.99 in the UK.
This is co-written by the information literacy expert Patricia Senn Breivik and E. Gordon Gee, who is Chancellor of Vanderbilt University. It also has commentary from other non-librarians, and includes chapters such as "Supporting Administrative Priorities" and "Making a Difference within the Information Society". Some appendices specifically focus on information literacy.

Photo by Sheila Webber, August 2006

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Knowledge Economy (AND NOT information literacy)

A new report this month from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council is:
Clayton, N. and Hepworth, M. (2006) Public Libraries in the Knowledge Economy. London: Local Futures Group. I did my usual "information literacy" search through this document, followed by a very hasty scan - but no, unfortunately it looks like information literacy hasn't been identified as important to the knowledge economy in this document. The main focus is on information and training services for business, with ICT matters mentioned specifically.

One of my areas is still Business Information so I'm still going to look at the report because of that (and there are some useful examples and case studies), but it's a pity that information literacy skills seem to have been nefglected. The full report is at

Photo by Sheila Webber: Autumn anemone, August 2006.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

New Book

Neely, T. (2006) Information Literacy Assessment. ALA Editions. ISBN 0838909140

I haven't seen this. The blurb says "ACRL's standards for information literacy provide a solid foundation to help faculty and librarians establish the context for learning. Neely, a top information literacy expert, frames these ACRL standards as benchmarks and provides a toolbox of assessment strategies to demonstrate students' learning. Sharing best practices and actual sample assessments, these proven materials and programs: represent best practices from 27 institutions (US, Canadian, Australian); exemplify the best library-related assignments to strengthen information literacy skills; offer proven tips for incorporating the five ACRL standards into instruction; go beyond the classroom, with insights on partnering with teachers and administrators; and, explain the basics of automating assessments."

Photo by Sheila Webber: Copenhagen, August 2006.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

IL for product design engineering students

Another short report from Creating Knowledge IV held last week. Ola Pilerot presented a paper authored with Viktor Hiort af Ornäs, a lecturer at the University of Skövde called Design for information literacy: Towards embedded information literacy education for product design engineering students. You can find the complete paper here. One useful idea I'll pluck out is actually looking at the texts on the student reading list, and seizing on diagrams/ ideas/ quotes that will illustrate to the students how information literacy fits in with the subject of study. In this case, there were diagrams of the product design process that Ola used.

The abstract says "This paper describes improvements in how information literacy is taught on a design methodology course. The change is presented in the light of four approaches to information literacy education suggested by Bundy (2004). Our guiding principle has been that information literacy should be contextualized and embedded in the curricular activities of design. There are parallels in the design process and the information seeking process, and using these is one way to help students relate to the subject. Statements indicate that the students found the assignments worthwhile and became familiar with resources that they will use in the future. While we have strived for an embedment of information literacy, the course is probably more correctly described as one in which information literacy has been integrated. We describe how the course has developed over years and point to potential future improvements that may lead to a design of the course where information literacy can be seen as truly embedded."

Photo by Sheila Webber: Chr. Havens Canal, Copenhagen, August 2006.

The idea of a university

A BBC Radio 4 series started today called The idea of a university. You can "listen again" in the week after it's broadcast. It is describing the huge changes to British Higher Education since the 2nd world war. Interesting to hear about the motives at different stages. Nowadays the political/pragmatic motives seem to have pushed out idealistic/ character developing and "community of scholars" visions for universities. Lord Lindsay, who founded Keele University, is quoted as saying that the purpose of a university education was to "enable everyone to read the Times intelligently". He meant particularly that people should be well-rounded, and know something about most things, but I like to think it also implies information literacy..... Listen again at (listed under "i" rather than "t" you will be glad to know.

Photo by Sheila Webber: University Life 1: Nature's cup-holder. To use the convenient back entrance to the Department you have to swipe an ID card (in grey device on left). When holding a bag and takeway coffee, this could be awkward. But the hedge has obligingly formed a natural cup holder to use whilst one swipes.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Health Libraries Group Conference

There are a number of interesting information literacy - related presentations from the Health Library Group Conference that took place last month. You can find presentations on the CILIP website In addition, some people blogged the conference; I found:
Ian Snowley blogging on it briefly and more extensive entries from Tom Roper starting at

Photo by Sheila Webber: House boat being towed along in Copenhagen harbour, with the road bridge open to let it through, August 2006. Looked very upmarket inside, they were probably trying to find a mooring with better wifi coverage.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Looking at Liblogs

A posting from Phil Bradley on the British Librarian Bloggers list alerted me to a long article by Walt Crawford in which he identifies 213 librarian blogs and provides an interesting discussion about how he selected them. The "great middle" in the title (see below) refers to the fact that although there are a few blogs that can be identified as "top" in some way (most links, most postings etc.) there are a lot of librarian weblogs that at emerging as interesting or valued in one way or another - e.g. lots of comments, lengthy posts, lots of posts. The last part of the article includes an alphabetical list of the chosen blogs (including this one ;-) with a few lines on each. As Crawford says "As liblogs proliferate, they offer many more voices worth listening to. If you can’t find twenty or thirty blogs on this list that intrigue you enough to subscribe to, you either have a lot of feeds already or have narrow interests within the library field."
Crawford, W. (2006) "Looking at Liblogs: The Great Middle" Cites & Insights, 6 (10), 1-30.

Photo by Sheila Webber: Copenhagen, Denmark, August 2006.

Welsh IL event

Cardiff Libraries in Cooperation and CILIP CSG Information Literacy group are holding a free staff development event: Developing Information Literacy skills amongst library users - tools and techniques on 7 September 2006, 10am - 1pm. Venue is Bute Building, Cardiff University. Speakers include Jason Briddon, Faculty Librarian for Health and Social Care, University of the West of England; Geoff Jones, Senior Information Literacy Coordinator, Gateways to Learning and Lis Parcell, Learning Resources Advisor/HE coordinator, RSC Wales. There will also be three short workshops. Numbers for this event are limited and priority will be given to library staff from the Cardiff area. Ifyou would like to attend, please email Angela Jones-Evans, CLIC Project Officer

Photo by Sheila Webber: Copenhagen, August 2006.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Poster activity at CKIV

Sorry for the gap in reporting on the Creating Knowledge IV conference - it got rather hectic and then I felt I needed a bit of a rest (also there seems to be a bit of a lack of internet cafes in Copenhagen - I wonder why?). I need to go back now to Thursday, which was the second day of the conference. Interaction and activity was a big feature. The day started with a paper presentation session (which I'll report on separately) but then there was a workshop where we all had to gather in a hall. The facilitator told us to move round to get into groups (by country, by length of experience in our current profession, by discipline) and then we had to get in pairs and tell each other our life stories in a minute.

After this we finally got into preallocated small groups of 5 to 7 people in which we were going to do some activities later that day and the next. I was in group 1A and some of my group are pictured above in the hall. We had again some time to introduce each other in pairs. In Group 1A was me, Charotte Werther, Elisabeth Domeij, Linda Fainburg, Lisa Valdimarsdottir, Susanne Mikki and Ulla Nilsson. I think the earlier activities were useful in keeping us active and moving but perhaps I would have liked a little more time on the getting to know your group activity. However I must say that the variety of activity was a big feature of this conference and it made it more interesting and enabled you to get to know more people.

In the afternoon we had a session where each little group (and with 150 delegates there were about 24 different little groups) had to address a question and then brainstorm ideas in their group and produce a poster. My group had to brainstorm ideas about How can the educational institution and the library/ academic support be more closely connected?. The poster on the right was the final result. Of the ideas we had, we had to focus on one. Perhaps it was cheating but we managed to focus a lot of our ideas around the (one) concept of communication. It is ACTIVE communication, in that librarians have to take the initiative. there is also the idea of participation, e.g. getting librarians onto key boards and committees. Appropriate channels have to be found to communicate in different ways with different people and groups.

The next stage was that all the groups pinned up their posters in the main lecture room. There was a presenter for each group (me for my group) and the presenter stayed with the poster and presented it while the other groups moved round in a coordinated fashion to have posters presented. Thus (except for presenters!) everyone got to hear about other people's posters. In fact I got to hear a little too, as the visiters discussed the poster. The item in green on our poster ("Students") was actually put in after the first group had visited, because my group had talked about students but not put them in separately! Interestingly, students seem to have more representation and power (if they choose) on committees in some Nordic countries than they generally do in the UK.

Designing a library website to foster information literacy

The Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Information Technology Information Use Research Group's August colloquium is called Designing a library website to foster information literacy: a user-centred design framework. It is presented by Gina Paterson, Queensland University of Technology on Weds 30 August, 2-4pm, Gardens Point campus, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. RSVP by Monday 28 August to Kim:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Creating Knowledge IV day 1

The opening session of the Creating Knowledge IV conference today was hosted by the Royal Library in Copenhagen. There is a very new building, the Black Diamond, on the waterfront which has cafes etc. and the very stylish conference room that we used. There are dramatic connecting escalators to the old library building behind. The top photo shows this area at break time from the conference.

The session started with an introduction from Claus Nielsen, Principal of Copenhagen University. This was followed by a monologue from an actress who was role playing being a student who had dropped out of Copenhagen University (at the time the audience wasn’t told this was an actress, but some people guessed). She was telling her story of being at university with many problems e.g. lack of support from lecturers, her own difficulties with seeing herself as an independent learner, bad advice from friends etc.

Someone I was talking to said that it included a lot of stereotypes, but still these are all individual problems which students have. The idea was that the keynote speakers today were responding to this story, which I’ll come to in a moment. What probably wasn’t planned was the interesting counterpoint with the Principal’s talk, which was all very “on message” talking about employers’s needs etc. It is always nice to senior university managers saying how important information literacy is, but for example I did find his approving quotation of the Danish government’s vision for higher education a bit too consumerist (“[students going] Faster into university, faster through university, faster into employment: all for the benefit of the Danish economy.” Hmmm)

The first two keynotes were Patricia Senn Breivik and Hans Siggaard Jensen (pictured in a blurred and photoshopped photo on the right). They addressed in turn the questions “What is the problem”, “What enhances and impedes the problem” and “ideas for a collaborative solution.” As usual Patricia was very persuasive in talking about the value of information literacy and librarians in empowering people to “better futures.” She saw the internet as the biggest challenge. She thought that it was important to get information literacy “institutionalised” and she described a process of approaching departments with IL standards, listing and discussing with them to identify ones which best suited them, getting them into the disciplinary language and integrating them into the curriculum. She urged librarians not to hide their lights under a bushel, and also to take more risks.

Hans Siggaard Jensen saw the tension between traditional elements of a university and the needs of the student (I think they haven’t been subjected to the rigours of teaching quality assessment in the same way as the UK). He felt that the knowledge that had been gained about how people create knowledge and how they learn wassn’t being applied nearly enough in universities. One thing that was talked about by him and Patricia was how people can learn by creating knowledge and engaging in research. This was one of the themes that was later picked up when we had an interactive session where the whole audience had to get up on stage and share their “top insight” from the keynotes with each other. For me this connects with things we are doing at Sheffield with enquiry based learning (I will blog about this a bit more when I get back!) “putting the process of research at the heart of the student experience.”

Hans also talked about the need to have a vision - he talked about past visions for the university and for libraries. This was another thing that resonated with delegates (as did Patricia’s exhortation for librarians to get out and about in their institution)

The final keynote was from Jude Carroll, on plagiarism. As this has been quite a long entry I will just represent this by mentioning a couple of the resources she recommended: The Center for Intellectual Property, University of Maryland (, the site at Leeds Uni ( and the University of Alberta

Strategic planning

I am in Denmark at the moment, today being the first day of the Creating Knowledeg IV conference. I just bumped into Patricia Breivik who is one of the keynotes, and is in the same hotel. Obviously more on this later, but for the moment, here are a few recent articles, one free online and two not.

Lorenzen, M. (2006) "Strategic Planning for Academic Library Instructional Programming." Illinois libraries, 86 (2), 22-29.

Vezzosi, M. (2006) "Information literacy and action research: An overview and some reflections." New Library World, 107 (7-8) 286-301. Describes an intervention at the University of Parma. LILAC.

Hurley, T. (2006) "Crossing a bridge: The challenges of developing and delivering a pilot information literacy course for international students." New Library World, 107 (7-8) 302-320. Describes experience at the Waterford Institute of Technology Libraries.

Photo by Sheila Webber, Port Julia, South Australia.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Good school libraries

I don't think I put anything on the blog about the Ofsted (UK schools inspectorate) report: Good school libraries: making a difference to learning, which was published in March 2006. "This report identifies those factors which help to produce good libraries in primary and secondary schools. It emphasises the importance of:... [amongst other things] ... coherent programmes for developing pupils’ information literacy. The report draws on inspection data collected from visits to 32 schools between September 2004 and July 2005. It includes case studies from some of the schools." You can download the complete document at:

Photo by Sheila Webber: Red Admiral butterfly, Hailsham, July 2006.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Information literacy on youtube

Whilst on for the posting below I searched information literacy, as you do, and found I-N-F-O-L-I-T: literate's the way to be! I will just say it appears to involve librarians at a library conference jumping up and down with pompoms (do check it out yourself). It's wonderful that information literacy is there at all ... but ... perhaps this is a wake-up call to start populating youtube with alternative videos about IL???? Anyway, you can also search e.g. on "public library" and find a hotchpotch of items, including some posted by what appear to be authentic public libraries.

Photo by Sheila Webber: Agapanthus in Mason's Regenecy jug, photoshopped contrast, Aug 2006.

Friday, August 11, 2006

IL in law firms

I never got round to writing anything about the very interesting presentation given by Carmel O'Sullivan at the ANZIIL Symposium last month (on the left of the photo, with Valma Datson on the right). Carmel is now at Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia, but she used to lead information literacy training at an Australian law firm. She talked about her strategy, in particular the challenges presented by new graduate lawyers, and reflected on what IL education was needed in the law firm and at university to prepare the graduates for work. Fortunately, her conference paper (not just a ppt!) is up on the ANZIIL site, together with a couple more presentations:

O'Sullivan, C. (2006) "Is information literacy a basis for lifelong learning? Observations from the workplace." ANZIIL Symposium series 6: Transitions: held 5th and 6th July 2006 at the Southbank Institute, Brisbane. Brisbane: ANZIIL

An article by her that gets cited quite a lot is: O'Sullivan, C. "Is information literacy relevant in the real world?" Reference Services Review, 30(1) 2002, p7-14

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Our French research article

The article which was based on the presentation that Stuart Boon and I gave in Lyon last year (where I took this photo of lavender) has been published, as part of the French-language proceedings of the conference. It was kindly translated into French by Sylvie Chevillotte. The English title was "British academics from different disciplines: comparing their conceptions of pedagogy for information literacy." By the way, at the moment Bill's name is missing from the article, but it should be there!

Webber, S., Boon, S. and Johnston, B. (2006) "Comparaison des conceptions pédagogiques de la maîtrise de l’information chez des universitaires britanniques de différentes disciplines." Actes des 5èmes Rencontres Formist: Lyon: 2005. Lyon: ENSSIB.

The whole proceedings (in French) are at and the overall theme, focusing on IL and discipline, was Parcours de formation documentaire des étudiants : à qui de jouer ? Développer les compétences informationnelles dans un cursus disciplinaire

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Linda Dorrington

I was shocked to hear last week about the unexpected death of Linda Dorrington, who was in the Imperial College Library. She was a pioneer health librarian and very active professionally, for example in the University Medical School Librarians Group and Health Libraries Group. I worked most closely with her when she was Chair of the UK Online User Group committee, that I was also heavily involved with (now the UKEIG). Her funeral is this Friday.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Astroturfing: media literacy example

Astroturfing is what politicians or businesspeople are doing if they create something which pretends to come from ordinary people (or grass roots) and it's actually a product of Public Relations. This isn't exactly new, but one of the latest manifestations is on, where a video mocking Al Gore's An inconvenient truth (film about global warming) turned out not to be by a 29 year old Californian with a profile on, but a PR firm which included Exxon amongst its clients. You can find the film by searching youtube for "al gore" penguins
See also: Ayres, C. (2006) "Sick [sic] lobbying is behind penguin spoof of Al Gore." The Times, 5 August.,,3-2299550,00.html [Added later - just noticed that on the LexisNexis database the headline is "Slick lobbying..." which sounds more likely to me, but I suppose either will do ;-)]

Photo by Sheila Webber: Grass, Roma Street Parklands, Brisbane, Australia, July 2006

IL Workshop in Aberdeen

A full day workshop entitled "Information Literacy for Learning" will be held on the 12th of September 2006 in Aberdeen, Scotland.

The Information Literacy for Learning programme is not yet finalised, however the following will provide some indication of what we envisage covering in this training day.
  • Do you want to explore current thinking around information literacy and learning?
  • Would you benefit from discussing and sharing experiences of supporting users and learners to become information literate?
  • Would you welcome the opportunity to put Information Literacy for Learning into practice?
'Information literacy is widely considered to be a vital ingredient in our information society with the challenges of information overload, access to limitless amounts of information in an array of formats, lifelong learning initiatives, enquiry-based learning, etc. But how can we actually support learners, at any and all levels, to develop effective information skills and become information literate?'

Professor Dorothy Williams, from RGU, will be there to sow some seeds on the latest thinking, issues and current debates regarding information literacy and learning.

This training workshop will be relevant mainly to librarians and information professionals working in a learning environment, e.g. school librarians, academic librarians etc, and any others who have an interest in promoting and supporting information literacy in their work environment.

Cost per trainee - 165.00 (including lunch and refreshments)
For more information and how to book, go to

For further information regarding InfusionS, our courses, terms and conditions of booking and much more, please visit

Monday, August 07, 2006

IL Initiatives in Spain

José Antonio Merlo Vega recently gave a paper at the 35th Annual Conference of the International Association of School Librarianship in Lisbon on "School libraries, information literacy and reading promotion initiatives in Spain", wherein he provides a nice analysis of IL initiatives in Spain. The abstract is provided in full below, courtesy of Eprints, and a link to the full-text PDF file follows.

'School libraries in Spain have evolved very quickly in recent years. The educational authorities have been approving school library development policies, and this has greatly improved the situation of these libraries in Spain. This paper will discuss three different aspects of school libraries in Spain: their current situation, plans to promote reading, and information literacy activities. First, the current situation of school libraries in Spain will be discussed, based on different types of data relating to these libraries. Second, the information literacy initiatives that are being implemented in Spain will be analysed. Finally, the different plans approved in Spain to promote reading will be studied.

Full text available here.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

New literacies

My colleague Peter Stordy drew my attention to the fact that Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel had generously posted Chapter 3 ("New literacies: concepts and practices") of the forthcoming 2nd edition of their book New Literacies and going to their blog I found they had also posted Chapter 4 ("New literacies in everyday practice") as well. I am saving Chapter 3 for more careful consideration, but I skimmed through Chapter 4 and found that I am practising new literacies even more than I thought as I now & then write fan fiction (about the Archers), and I watch anime (Japanese animation: currently Cowboy Bebop and Full Metal Alchemist) even if I don't remix it, so at least I know what they are talking about. I think already mentioned that interacting with the blogs of my Sheffield colleagues Dr Joolz and Dr Kate have made me reflect on what the differences/ overlaps are between digital literacy and information literacy. It has brought home how you can't just barge into someone else's literacy (so to speak) and insist it's relevant to information literacy, as the perspectives, emphasis, interpretation, language etc. differ.

Photo by Sheila Webber: Half a locally grown paw-paw, Yeppoon, Australia, June 2006.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Consumer protection; more digital categories

Ofcom (which has a watchdog remit for communications in the UK) has produced a couple of reports recently. The first is: Online protection: A survey of consumer, industry and regulatory mechanisms and systems at

This is reviewing mechanisms, laws and systems that are being used to meet online consumer problems such as phishing (getting people's bank etc. details), being sent unwanted and inappropriate content etc. The report also includes what seems (on my usual quick skim of the contents) to be a useful explanation of the different players in the internet information/sales value chain and what each can do to protect the consumer. The roles start with content production and content aggregation and go through to content access. This part might be relevant if you were wanting people to think about who contributes to the information world of the internet.

Also published last month was Communications Market: Special Report - Consumer Engagement with Digital Communications Services. You can access all their communications market reports from Scroll down the page for recent ones. This is yet another report that asked people about their use of technology and created some categories. Key categories described are: enthusiasts, functionalists, economisers, abstainers and resistors. They then map use of some specific digital media around this, e.g. for mobiles they identify these 5 categories plus Mobile Reliants and Mobile Organisers. A key focus is identifying how people can be got to appreciate these media more... Ofcom also has a media literacysection at

Photo by Sheila Webber: Cornfield in Hailsham, Sussex, July 2006.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Lärandemål för informationskompetens

More good stuff from Sweden. I think that Lärandemål för informationskompetens translates to learning outcomes for information literacy and this is athe name of a recently commenced project at Stockholm university. The project site includes a blog and examples of relevant documents from other Swedish institutions (in Swedish, obviously). I think that this exercise is also stimulated by the Bologna process of standardising the structure of degree courses in Europe, which of course presents an oportunity to raise the issue of IL. Thanks to the Swedish IL blog (see link on right) for alerting me to this.

Photo by Sheila Webber: Gatekeeper butterfly, Hailsham, Sussex, July 2006.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


On the evidence base website there are presentations from a couple of recent conferences: Approaches to induction in HE and FE libraries (May 2006) and Evaluating academic libraries (March 2006) .

Photo by Sheila Webber: Eastbourne beach, July 2006.

IL of rats

I was looking at the White Rose e-print repository (run for the Universities of Sheffield, Leeds and York at, thinking I ought to put my papers on it, when I ran across:

Noble, J., Tucci, E. and Todd, P.M. (1999) Social learning and information sharing: an evolutionary simulation model of foraging in Norway rats. In: Advances in artificial life : 5th European Conference, ECAL'99, Lausanne, Switzerland, September, 1999 : proceedings. Springer Verlag: Berlin. pp. 514-523.

Basically, rats recognise that they need information about where to get food. They come across smells of novel kinds of food in various ways. However, they have identified that a good way of evaluating whether this is information they should use or not is by whether they encounter the smell on the breath of another rat that's just eaten the food (the idea being that if Rat B has eaten the food and Rat B is still breathing, the new food must be OK). Rat A then jogs away to the new food, accesses it and synthesises it.

OK, that isn't exactly how the authors put it, but they were talking about information sharing. One thing that had emerged was that the rats didn't distinguish between ill and well rats who'd eaten, so sometimes Rat A might smell the food on Rat B's breath, think "great" and go and eat the new food, and then die like Rat B did shortly after having its breath smelt. The authors of this paper did a computer simulation on this, and concluded that, basically, this didn't happen often enough for it to be an issue in the great genetic scheme of things, as generally speaking this approach worked OK. When they were in a toxic environment rats were more cautious anyway, and when food was sparse being too cautious might be as lethal (because of starvation) as not being cautious enough.

This was "a seemingly complex example of social (or even cultural) information transmission can be explained through the action of simple behaviours in an appropriately structured environment - an instance of ecological rationality." Some information seeking researchers have looked at information behaviour as a hunting/foraging etc activity, and there is increasing interest in ethnography as a research approach for information literacy. Therefore this reminded me - well, first of all how humans are, after all, mammals - and then how useful the kind of research is that examines information behaviour and relates it to the conditions under which that behaviour takes place. Which brings me neatly on to the latest issue of Information Research which has the first batch of papers from the Information Seeking In Context conference that took place last month in Sydney, Australia. (where I took the photo of the Echidna, in Sydney Zoo, in 2004)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

e-learning & pedagogy

There is some interesting material on the JISC e-learning & pedagogy home page, for example material from events, case studies.

Photo by Sheila Webber: Comma butterfly on blackberry flower, Hailsham, Sussex, July 2006.