Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Rethinking information literacy through understanding disciplinary information practices @edwardluca #i3rgu

The next session I attended at the i3 conference was Edward Luca (an academic librarian at the University of Sydney) on Truly embedded librarianship: rethinking information literacy through understanding disciplinary information practices in higher education.
Starting as a subject librarian in pharmacy, his question to the literature was "how can we embed information literacy within a disciplinary context". The conclusions seemed to be that information literacy was genrally left to librarians, and that is was dominated by one-shot sessions, which may not be contextualised. He noted that the solution to this was often aiming to tie the IL education to student needs for assignments. However, there did appear to be a lack of real collaboration between librarian and faculty.
The value of "embedded" librarianship was seen as it being user-oriented, with closer collaboration, with sometimes even physical embedding within a department. Luca moved on to look at varying information practices within disciplines, and relating information literacy to that.
In terms of "embeddedness" he cited Bowler and Street (2008) and then went on to discuss the approach described by Farrell and Badke (2015) that they have employed at CUNY. This stimulated him to use qualitative action research with his own interventions in a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree. A key lens was the IL framework adopted in his university. He gave the example of "Foundations of Pharmacy" (year 1) where they had 3 weeks: but looking at sessions at level 3, they were actually teaching very similar things (assuming no retention of prior learning). There was also a "disconnect between expectations from faculty member in supporting documentation" and material actualy covered by the librarian.
Talking to colleagues, Luca discovered that integration varied depending on tehextent to which an individual librarian developed a relationship with faculty. The sessions tended to be orientation to the library, searching, and database searching. There was evidence that they were often "legacy" arrangements, that weren't well aligned and scaffolded.
Therefore he was advocating getting greater involvement of librarians in the disciplinary world. For the future in his institution, they are doing curriculum mapping and build in more scaffolding, as well as developing better disciplinary knowledge.
There was an interesting conversation afterwards about the challenges of getting engaged and collaborating with faculty (considering the power imbalance; the imbalance in interest on co-creation of knowledge - i.e. the librarian having to do all the work).
Photo by Sheila Webber: Aberdeen University Library

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