The title of Barbara’s presentation was “The elephant in the room - why are Information skills not an essential part of the curriculum”. Barbara spoke about the need to reclaim the labels “library” and “librarian” to counter the deprofessionalisation of our activities. Information literacy is an essential capability, but the teaching profession hasn’t adopted IL as a core aspect of learning. Similar,y there is only lip service paid to library provision by the Education department. Librarians are not perceived to have to same status as other professionals working in schools. If local councils can “get away” with closing libraries, using volunteers, and sacking professional librarians, then schools are likely to follow suit.
Barbara spoke about the range of IL models and standards that exist, and the similarities between them. And asked what is the value in using one model to consistently talk about IL? The diversity of terminology is problematic, particularly for students moving from school to university, and the different way that employers talk about the skills they want. It can be difficult to measure the impact of IL, or of the library, but we know that IL is important for safety, career development, and participation in the information society. Teachers in schools do develop IL but it tends to be ad hoc and linked to particular pieces of work, there is no holistic development of IL. However, librarians often lack the status to effectively lead and deliver an IL strategy. Studies have shown that IL teaching delivered collaboratively by librarians and teachers is very effective, but this doesn’t happen often enough.
New university students are convinced of their own IL capabilities, but librarians are equally convinced that these are lacking. We need to promote the value and benefit of these skills, as younger people are more likely to trust information they find online. The HPQ project offered in secondary schools in the UK is an ideal place to teach IL, as students have to learn independently and undertake research. If IL was recognised as a subject in its own right it would be a step-change in teaching and support of IL.