Thursday, October 22, 2015

Beyond the Hyperbole: Information Literacy Reconsidered #ecil2015

Heidi Julien was the second speaker today, and she started an interesting discussion with her talk Beyond the Hyperbole: Information Literacy Reconsidered, at the European Conference on Information Literacy 2015.
She started by talking about the range of literacies, and the different ways in which people defined the same term (including information literacy). She noted that burdens were placed on concepts such as information literacy, associated with supporting democracy, inclusive society and so forth. This placed political and practical weight on the term and raised the issue of who was claiming to take responsibility or to own that term. Julien said that the library and information responsibility for information literacy was limited to certain aspects of information searching and interaction, and she placed information literacy within the context of socially contructed information practices.
Julien noted that behaviour with information was influenced by convenience etc.: human nature (including social norms) would have more impact on people's attitudes and behaviour than did IL. She doubted "whether information literacy alone can shift the ground towards social good". Julien noted the challenges to developing information literacy: including people's current convenient habits, misapprehensions about young people's skills, lack of resources to enable libraries to offer relevant services, a lack of librarians (e.g. in schools) and some gaps in librarians' own skills.
Julien then looked at IL in the context of global challenges. These include sustainability, inclusive social development, conflict, education. It is easy to exaggerate the potential of IL to meet these challenges. Julien highlighted some areas were she felt IL could make a real contribution, such as helping citizens engage in civil society, and in promoting health and wellbeing. In order to fulfill this contribution, library and information professionals needed to understand people's information practice and information behaviour. Then it is possible for information literacy to make its real contribution.
There was also a lively discussion after this, but I was listening and contributing ratherthan blogging that part ;-)
Photo by Sheila Webber: the Russian church again - on the walk into the conference from my apartment yesterday, Tallin, Estonia

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