Friday, December 13, 2019

Southern California Instruction Librarians (SCIL) mini-conference

Southern California Instruction Librarians (SCIL) hosts SCIL Works: Disaster Planning: Bouncing back from Instructional Fails on January 17, 2020 at CSU Long Beach, USA. "This annual mini-conference offers librarians the opportunity to share their best practices, innovative pedagogy, and creative solutions with colleagues. SCIL Works 2020 will focus on the many ways in which instruction librarians have adapted and bounced back from lesson plans that didn't quite work as expected." Registration at (US $30 for CARL Members | $45 for Non-Members | $15 for Students)

Gift ideas for librarians: the Invisible Library series

I continue my short series of librarian gifts. By the way, these are all works of fiction/ fantasy which feature librarians: real librarians' are diverse and so are their tastes, so I'm not straying beyond that boundary.
About a year ago I came across the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman, and I've consumed five of the six books published so far. The heroine, Irene, is a Librarian, in a universe where fae and dragons are constantly on the brink of war, there are alternate worlds galore, and the Library is key in maintaining the order of the universe and preventing human worlds from getting squashed by more powerful beings. This order is maintained by librarians obtaining all variations of all books ever published and depositing them in The Library, thus forming stable connections with the worlds from which the books were purloined.
Since tracking down and obtaining books by whatever means is the key function of a Librarian, the skillset is a bit different from the one outlined in CILIP's Professional Skill and Knowledge Base (and indeed from the curriculum here at the University of Sheffield Information School).
As Cogman says in an interview appended to The masked city "Languages are very important ... General physical health, martial arts skills and great marksmanship are all useful - as is the ability to run fast when needed." After also mentioning diplomacy, spycraft, burglary, art theory and literary criticism, Cogman sums up "The perfect Librarian is calm, cool, collected, intelligent, multilingual, a crack shot, a martial artist, an Olympic-level runner ... a good swimmer, an expert thief and a genius con artist" although "In practice, most Librarians would rather spend their time reading a good book".
I should add that using catalogues and search engines is important to Librarians, and obviously collection development is at the heart of their work. Irene's information literacy is well developed, as she uses all her senses to gather information in any given world/situation and then applies this to everyday life decision-making, in order to avoid death and mass destruction.
I think one of the reasons I took to the series is to do with my time at the British Library, which we referred to internally as The Library, as if it were the only one in the universe. However, Cogman's series may appeal to anyone who likes alternate worlds, fantasy action, and books.
Genevieve Cogman's website is here and it has links to online booksellers, as well as her blog etc.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

New articles: Older people; #AFMIL ; Informed Learning; Teachers; Professional infolit; health sciences; pedagogy - and more!

There is a new issue of the open access Journal of Information Literacy (volume 13, number 2). It includes an article co-authored by me which I will be blogging more about, separately and is a bumper issue with articles addressing research and practice. It contains:
- Connecting with the underland by Dorothy Williams (this is the guest editorial introducing the issue, here underland means "hidden layers and deep networks, created by nature and by humankind, beneath our feet in cities and countryside")
- Older Australians’ information literacy experiences using mobile devices by Gema Linares Soler
- Exploring value as a dimension of professional information literacy by Sara Sharun
- Teachers and information literacy by Christine Shannon, Jacqueline Reilly, Jessica Bates,
- First-generation students’ information literacy in everyday contexts by Darren Ilett
- Should we flip the script? by Tatiana Pashkova-Balkenhol, Mark Lenker, Emily Cox, Elizabeth Kocevar-Weidinger
- Social living labs for informed learning by Hilary Hughes, Marcus Foth, Professor, Kerry Mallan, Professor
- Re-visioning library support for undergraduate educational programmes in an academic health sciences library by Denise Smith
- How individual consultations with a librarian can support systematic reviews in the social sciences by Michelle Dalton
- Connecting theory to practice by Kieren Laura-Marie Bailey, Michele Jacobsen
- Personalised video instruction by Emily B Kean, Cayla Robinson
- Developing online instruction according to best practices by Ashley Lierman, Ariana Santiago
- Engaging academic staff with reading lists by Allie Taylor
- Contingent teaching through low-tech audience response systems by M. Sara Lowe, Katharine V. Macy, Sean M. Stone
- WikiLiteracy by Caroline Ball
- Be Media Smart by Philip Russell
and last but obviously not least ;-))
- The Age-Friendly Media and Information Literate (#AFMIL) City by Sheila Webber, Bill Johnston
There are also book reviews
Go to
Photo by Sheila Webber: rich and healthy variety of vegetables at the Blackheath Farmers Market, December 2019

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Misinformation: the example of the boy in LGI

The last couple of days have brought another example of the power of misinformation, showing how fast it spreads, and the disruption and mistrust it can cause at times of political tension. The Yorkshire Post (a very long established regional newspaper in the UK) published a story and photo of a young boy in in Leeds General Infirmary lying on the floor because of lack of hospital beds (Yorkshire Post Comment, 2019). The UK has a general election tomorrow, and the National Health Service (NHS) has been a big part of the debate. Yesterday the current UK prime minister was asked to comment on the photo, but instead kept talking and pocketed the reporter's phone. Now read on.....
Following on from this, tweets started to appear alleging that the photo had been staged, and that the information that it was staged had come from a friend who was a nurse at the hospital (i.e. trying to convince readers that this was authentic on-the-spot "truth"). This tweet became viral, with retweets from politicians and nasty criticism of the boy's family as well as of the newspaper. It then became evident that these tweets were misinformation: the person who had apparently written the original tweet said her account was hacked.
The Yorkshire Post responded later the same day (Collins, 2019), emphasising that the original story had been carefully researched, including a statement from the hospital with an apology, and talking about the problem of misinformation "Our team of reporters will fact-check and verify information at the highest level before it is published - yet anyone can hide behind the guise of a fake profile and tweet out spurious claims without a single check. We will be accountable - nobody will take accountability from a fake account."
The Yorkshire Post's editor also published (Mitchinson, 2019) the "open letter" sent to a reader who had said that she no longer trusted the Yorkshire Post because they spread fake news. He says how journalists checked the facts and ends on an impassioned note "Whatever you do, do not believe a stranger on social media who disappears into the night."
The overall "fake news" story has been summarised and commented on in several places e.g. The New York Times (Satariano, 2019) and the UK's fact checking agency (Full Fact, 2019).

- Collins, L. (2019, December 10). How the journalists you trust from the YEP defeated fake news and our commitment to fact-checked journalism.
- Full Fact. (2019, December 10). These are the facts that we know about the photo of the boy in Leeds General Infirmary.
- Mitchinson, J. (2019, December 10). 'Do not believe a stranger on social media who disappears into the night' - An open letter from our editor to you.
- Satariano, A. (2019, December 10). A Sick U.K. Boy’s Story Was True. But False Posts Followed.
- Yorkshire Post Comment. (2019, December 8) This shocking picture from a Yorkshire hospital shows why honesty is needed on NHS waiting times:
Photo by Sheila Webber: the Houses of Parliament, seen from gardens outside St Thomas' hospital, April 2013.

New articles: Collaboration with learning designers; CRAAP; ACRL Framework & STEM; Brexit; Diversity

The lastest issue of open access journal College and Research Libraries News (vol 80 issue 11) is available. It includes:
- Instruction librarians and instructional designers: A natural collaboration by Catherine Tingelstad, Heather McCullough
- Rethinking CRAAP: Getting students thinking like fact-checkers in evaluating web sources by Jennifer A. Fielding
- Enhancing departmental engagement: Using a LibGuide to promote an invited speaker seminar series by David Flaxbart ("On balance, the time spent on this task has been worth the effort. It has helped to integrate the library and the librarian more regularly into the intellectual life of the Chemistry Department, and it has likely increased traffic to our other guides by enticing chemists to visit a site many of them may not have been aware of before.")
- The long conversation: Reflections on science librarianship by Robin Ford ("As an early career science librarian, it can be challenging to incorporate the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education into my work. In the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine) students, faculty, and staff are pressed for time and are focused on skills, data, and gaining familiarity with specific resources. In this column, I reflect on the frame Scholarship as Conversation, and draw on it for inspiration and guidance in my practice.")
- “Drops of Diversity”: How a small academic library is working to increase cultural competence by Sue Erickson, Sophie Rondeau, Maggie Sweeney
- A U.K. perspective on Brexit: Consideration of potential issues for academic and research libraries by Judith Broady-Preston (the CILIP President-elect)
Go to
Photo by Sheila Webber: Charlton House, November 2019

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Booking for #LILAC20 open

Registration for the LILAC (UK information literacy) conference is open. It takes place in Manchester. UK, 6-8 April 2020. There are various conference rates, with discounts for CILIP members and early bird (until January 31 2020). You have to register with their system and then do the conference place booking. More information at

Monday, December 09, 2019

Call for proposals #icepops2020

There is a call for proposals for Icepops 2020 (which focuses on copyright literacy),in Cardiff on 7 July 2020. It closes on 24 February 2020. Key topics are:
- Building Copyright Literacy Communities: national and international
- Engaging and creative approaches to copyright education including using games, video, music and performance
- Copyright education as part of digital and information literacy initiatives
- Copyright education in the cultural heritage sector
- Teaching copyright as part of scholarly and open practices
They say "We will be using the popular world café and lightning talk presentation formats again this year, but as ever we are open to accommodating other formats if you have an idea that you think might work. In previous years we had a fair use game show and a plenary discussion on library associations approaches to building copyright literacy."
More information at
Photo by Sheila Webber: University of Sheffield, December 2019

Gift ideas for librarians: Library Wars

In the run up to Christmas I will blog a few gift ideas for the librarian in your life. The first is the Japanese manga/ anime/ film Library Wars. In the Library Wars world, being a librarian isn't just about answering reference queries (though cataloguing, circulation and reference still play their part). It also involves being a crack shot, abseiling down library buildings and thwarting violent kidnappers. The key idea is that censorship has a stranglehold on society. Any books that are judged unsuitable from a moral, social or political point of view are seized by the army of the "Media Betterment Committee" (MBC) and destroyed.
Libraries have become a bastion of resistance, defended by the Library Task Force, and the brave librarians take their lives in their hands protecting books. The trigger for the whole series is the MBC storming a bookshop where the young heroine is about to buy the new addition to her favourite fantasy series, only to have the book snatched from her hand. Heroically, a member of the Library Task Force defends her right to read it and returns it to her: this leads to her determination to make the Library Forces her career.
To be honest, it is not the best anime/ manga I have encountered, but neither is it the worst, and I can't help smiling at a series where one moment the heroine is being chided for not shelving books accurately enough, and next moment she is sniping at MBC soldiers, to help ensure that a valuable cache of books gets helicoptered to safety.
Unfortunately it looks as though, if based in the West, the manga is the only medium that seems easy to get hold of at the moment, but I am the proud possessor of the anime series (13 episodes) and was also luck to catch the first of the live-action film versions on an international plane journey. I have embedded the trailer of the third live action film, as it includes a glimpse of a library book cart, the line "Deliver that book!! People are waiting!!", plus lots of rather cross librarians (and also a lot of books being destroyed, one way or another).  This is the information on the Anime News Network site (there are reviews for the anime and some volumes of the manga): Manga:; Library Wars live action film; Library War (note the lack of the plural in this version) anime

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Comparison of Google Scholar, Web of Science and Scopus

The article: Martín-Martín, A., Orduna-Malea, E., Thelwall, M., & López-Cózar, E. D. (2018, August 15). Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Scopus: a systematic comparison of citations in 252 subject categories.
was summarised by its authors in the LSE impact blog on December 3rd at
The scholarly article ends by saying "In conclusion, the inclusive paradigm of document indexing popularised by Google Scholar facilitates discovery of not only the most well-known sources, but also of sectors of scholarly communication that were previously hidden from view." but it highlights the tradeoffs, as Google Scolar has issues of its own. Essentially I think the message is what you may well already know i.e. if you want a thourough search, search all 3 of them.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Partisanship influences views on the role and value of scientific experts in policy debates

An interesting report by the Pew Research Center. It compares the opinions of Democrats and Republicans (in the USA) as regards belief in expert scientists.
Funk, C., Hefferon, M., Kennedy, B. & Johnson, C. (2019, August 2). Partisanship influences views on the role and value of scientific experts in policy debates.
Democrats emerge with a more positive view of scientists and scientific results than republicans e.g. "About six-in-ten Democrats (62%) say scientists make judgements based solely on the facts. By comparison, 44% of Republicans say scientists’ judgements are based on facts, while 55% say scientists’ opinions are just as likely to be biased as other people’s." In one interesting result, for Democrats, the higher they identified their own scientific knowledge to be, the more they trusted the scientists, whereas with Republicans it was the reverse.
Participants found information about scientists mostly in news media. Pew asked about factors affecting trust and, for example, "A majority of U.S. adults (57%) say they trust scientific research findings more if the researchers make their data publicly available."
The researchers asked about some specific types of researcher, and some inspire more trust than others, with some different concerns emerging, depending on the specialism: differing levels of trust also emerged depending on whether scientists were researchers or practitioners (e.g. medical researchers/practitioners).
As ususal, Pew give full details of their methodology. The data came from a survey carried out in January 2019, targeted at a stratified random sample of 5,817 panelists (they draw on a panel of respondents), with 77% responding.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Pampas grass, Sheffield, December 2019

Instructional Design for Distance Librarians (Recording)

Following on from the last post there is a recording and and breakout session notes from the ACRL DLS IC: Instructional Design for Distance Librarians webinar. The recording is here: and the breakout notes are here
Photo by Sheila Webber, Sheffield, December 2019

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

ACRL Standards for Distance Learning Library Services

This is the new infographic (published with a Creative Commons licence) of the core aspects of the ACRL Standards for Distance Learning Library Services. The link to the Standards and to jpg, pdf and png versions of the infographic are at

Sunday, December 01, 2019

New articles: librarians' teaching; librarians and systematic reviews

New articles from the November issue of open access College and Research Libraries:
Galoozis, E. (2019). Affective Aspects of Instruction Librarians’ Decisions to Adopt New Teaching Practices: Laying the Groundwork for Incremental Change. College & Research Libraries, 80(7), 1036-1050.
"This article addresses the question: How do emotions and emotional labor relate to instruction librarians’ motivations to adopt new teaching practices? Twelve information literacy instruction librarians were interviewed about their motivations to adopt new teaching practices. An initial round of coding was completed using grounded theory, to surface themes of motivations to adopt new teaching practices. In a second round, the themes were retained while further coding was used to identify language reflective of emotion and affective labor, along with five conditions for human motivation identified by Charles J. Walker and Cynthia Symons: competence, autonomy, worthwhile goal-setting, feedback, and affirmation. Using the results of the analysis, suggestions are made for library managers and administrators to lay the groundwork for developing supportive and collegial environments that encourage incremental change and emotional self-reflection."

Kogut, A., Foster, M., Ramirez, D., & Xiao, D. (2019). Critical Appraisal of Mathematics Education Systematic Review Search Methods: Implications for Social Sciences Librarians. College & Research Libraries, 80(7), 973-995.
"Social sciences librarians have an interest in supporting systematic reviews, but the available guidance is focused on health sciences settings. This study contributes guidance specifically for social sciences librarians using the Campbell Collaboration’s standards to evaluate the search methods reported in systematic reviews on K–12 mathematics education. After searching ERIC (EBSCO), Education Source (EBSCO), Academic Search Ultimate (EBSCO), and Compendex (Engineering Village) in April 2018, we included 40 systematic reviews. The reviews were evaluated on the transparency of the reporting and the comprehensiveness of the search as required by the standards. The findings revealed deficiencies in search processes and reporting of search methods. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for librarians collaborating with social sciences researchers."