Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The information literacy challenge in public libraries in Wales #lilac13

The first session I'm attending this afternoon at the LILAC conference #lilac13 in Manchester, UK, is The information literacy challenge in public libraries in Wales, from Gina Maddison. Gina herself has a public libraries and adult learning background. There was lots of detail in this presentation, and I'm afraid that I didn't manage to capture all of it! The Welsh Information Literacy project is often given as a good example of a national initiative on IL that has succeeded in getting attention and impact at the strategic national level.

She started by asking us where a young person would look for information about Wales: using the obvious answer (Google) Wikipedia is the top entry, followed by a commercial site (Visit Wales) and the most accurate information is on the Welsh Government's website (which is the fifth hit - and Gina mentioned that there some inaccuracies in the Wikipedia entry!) Looking at the demographics: there is a high level of unemployment in Wales and also concerns about standards of teachers' literacy. There has been an increase in poverty and evidence of the disadvantage that this brings with it.

Gina went on to talk about the history of the Welsh Information Literacy Project, which I have blogged about, so you can find that information by searching using the tag Wales http://information-literacy.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Wales. Aims of the first and second phases included developing accredited units of learning in information literacy (with the Welsh agency Agored), and developing an overarching statement of IL for Wales.

Phases 3 and 4 has three strands: work with schools, advocacy and public libraries. There are three part timers employed by the project, one per strand. It is based at Coleg Llandrillo in North Wales.Gina drew attention to the Mapping of best practice exercise - the publication is also on the project website: The project website is at http://www.welshinformationliteracy.org

One of the leaflets I photographed above is on "Information Literacy in the workplace", produced last year, which highlights how IL can save time and help businesses in various ways. There are also various Welsh policies to do with employment, lifelong learning etc. and they have identified the rol of IL in relation to each of these.

Current projects are: two pilots embedding the IL framework in schools; Identifying IL champions in each local authority library service; Supporting training of public library staff; and supporting delivery of formal qualifications in IL.

Giving more details about the schools side: it is embedded in the Welsh Baccalaureate qualification, and there are school visits and mapping to school literacy frameworks. They are including IL in primary schools, as they think it is important to start at that level, and also IL advocacy at teacher training colleges.

There is a lot going on with the public libraries IL champions programme: this includes staff taking the AGORED IL qualifications, addressing the IL element of local strategies (e.g. for supporting particular populations), communication through various media and advocacy for IL. The way that the qualifications are approached (e.g. which level of IL qualification, and which particular services it is linked with) varies between authorities. For example, health information is of particular interest in one authority. Assessment is via logbooks, which fits in with the practicalities of the workplace, and allows them to use evidence from the searches etc. that they are working with. If you want to find out more about any aspect, you can find the details of the project staff on the website.

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