In this post on the EMPATIC project seminar on Information Literacy (IL) in the Schools Sector, held in Krakow, Poland on 8 June, I will report on the talk by Hanna Batorowska, who had led a long term and successful initiative in school libraries.
Batorowska (Krakow Pedagogical University) talked about Information Literacy Development in Schools. She started by tracking the development of the Polish concept of information literacy (IL). She saw it as both a research area and a set of skills (which meant developing awareness of information competencies). Development of IL policy depended on developing the concept of IL, and she advocated a wider understanding of IL as a discipline. In Polish there are many terms that are used in the area of information and digital literacy, but she stressed that IL was not just about digital matters. She thought the sociological and political aspect was important to develop policy in the area. She talked about some Polish commentators. Waldemar Furmanek, for example, took an IT approach, which she did not agree with. She advocated the concept of Information Literacy which stresses Information Culture (she used the Polish term Kultura Informacyna for IL) . She also mentioned the continuum model of information by Katarzyna Materska.
Batorowska talked about how information literacy was approached in one region of Southern Poland, which she was using as an inspiring case study. She felt that IL initiatives should be created from grass roots, regionally (rather than taking a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach). The initiative she described included giving IL education to trainee teachers (including IL projects), to produce a generation of teachers who could understand IL. The initiative also needed the cooperation of the local authorities (in charge of education) and they had been very supportive. They also had support from the Ministry of Education, particularly in the area of digital literacy. There was cooperation with other agencies, such as local museums. They had organised were national and regional activities, which helped to develop a lobby for information literacy.
Batorowska felt that you could only implement a good IL strategy when you had prepared the ground strategically. All of the initiatives she described took 10 years to fulfill: this was a long-term, not a “quick fix”, approach. It had been particularly important to find a Head of School who realised the importance of IL, though having official funding to support the library activities (focused around a new multimedia library) was also vital, as was development of IL-aware teachers. Promotion and development were active and ongoing, with a lot of publicity for the new & information literacy activities, including in the local press.
One of Batorowska's publications is:
Batorowska, H. (2009) Kultura informacyjna w perspektywie zmian w edukacji. Stowarzyszenia Bibliotekarzy Polskich. ISBN: 978-83-61464-10-5 (which Google translates as: Information culture [I think that should be "Information Literacy"] in the perspective of changes in education)