Thursday, July 30, 2009

Information Literacy for Researchers event writeup

There was a follow-up event this month to look at actions and strategy arising from the Mind the skills gap: Information-handling training for researchers report. It included input from my Head of Department, Professor Sheila Corrall, and also from Tristram Holley of Vitae who has blogged the event interestingly here, including putting his presentation (Improving the quality and delivery of training provision in institutions) online.
As background: Reports/ presentations from the Mind the skills gap workshop held in September 2008 are at and the original report is at

Photo by Sheila Webber: Miniature railway, Buxton, July 2009

i3 reports: Kendra Albright

Very belatedly I am catching up with the last two reports from the the i3 conference held in Aberdeen in June. Dr Kendra Albright (University of South Carolina) gave the last keynote speech Multidisciplinarity in Information Behaviour: Expanding Boundaries or Fragmentation of the Field? (that is a link to the presentation). I will pick out some points that I found particularly interesting.
Referring to the legal, emotional and safety needs of abused women, she talked about information seeking as a coping strategy; the process of answering their needs helping them to cope.
Kendra talked about the brain functions involved in decision making, or wrestling with emotional issues - and how most decisions get based on emotional elements. Thus she wondered whether some concepts from psychology can help us with understanding information behaviours (IB). Models of IB have tended to be limited, with a lack of focus on use, and looking at individuals rather than the socio-political context.
Kendra emphasised the interconnection between cognition and emotion, by referring to the physical construction of the brain. Turning to psychology, she characterised a cognitive science approach that focuses on language and thought as neglecting emotion. In contrast, pyschoanalysis aims to "bring about change in emotion and thought" and is interpretative (rather than focusing on explanatory theories). There is an move towards integrating these two views. This carries through to research methods: quantitative methods do not seem sufficient to investigate all these areas and interviews also may not be the only way to gather qualitative data. Kendra talked about Rorschach tests (ink blots), pointing out is is not a "quick reaction" method, but involves getting the patient to discuss their interpretation, and observe physical reactions etc.
She presented some research identfying that afective attitudes are stronger pedictors of decision making than cognitive issues: we might think we are making "logical" decisions but emotions may well be affect them. We should bear this in mind when approaching IB research, and she mentioned Diane Nahl's work which links IB and affect (Diane gave a talk about this as part of my Second Life discussion series).
Transferring to her own work, she talked about how information may contribute to the decline of HIV/AIDS, but "linking HIV information with mortality could deter people from either actively seeking or passively assimilating information that could save their lives". Focusing on death may not be the most productive thing: young people may feel this doesn't impact them, and it associates the information with negative emotions. Repackaging the information in an emotionally intelligent way is better.
As this discussion illustrates, we need to use knowledge from more than one discipline, also, to answer questions such as: How does, say, health information change human behaviour? Possibly fragmenting our field by looking across disciplines was a "risk worth taking" in her view: the "Neccessity of transdisciplinarity".
Photo by Sheila Webber: Sheffield bus station, July 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Library day in the life

A good number of librarians linked to the Library Day in the Life website, to report on their day

Monday, July 27, 2009

Survey for Scottish school librarians

As part of the work commissioned by Learning and Teaching Scotland Curriculum for Excellence Literacy Team, the Information Literacy Scotland project is carrying out an online survey of Scottish school librarians and their knowledge and use of Curriculum for Excellence with regard to information literacy. They would therefore be grateful if school librarians and local authority departments responsible for education resources for schools within their area would take time to complete the online survey at SurveyMonkey which consists of 10 questions. The survey will run for six weeks until the 4th September 2009.
Photo by Sheila Webber: tram works in Edinburgh, June 2009

Lesotho: Training the Trainer in Information Literacy

There is a training course for faculty and librarians from five local tertiary institutions at the Lesotho College of Education, Lesotho: Training the Trainer in Information Literacy on 1-3 September 2009. I think this is a capacity building course following on from INASP supporting someone from the College attending the TTT event in Cape Town.

By teh way, while I was unsuccessfully searching for more substantial information about the event I came across the followingpaper, which does not really discuss Information LIteracy, but it does have interesting material on learning styles etc. of adult learners in African countries:
Manthoto, H. (2007) Promoting Information Literacy: Lessons from Education and Lifelong Learning. Paper Presented at Sub Saharan Regional Colloquium on Information Literacy; 29-30 April, 2007.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

IFLA Information Literacy newsletter

The new issue of the IFLA Information Literacy Section newsletter is published. It includes the list of "influential books, websites etc." that came of of my students David Brown and George Davies' study and other short items include:
- using RSS feeds in the Blake Library at the University of Technology, Sydney
- Scotland Health Services Information Literacy Portal
- IVIG (information literacy) Seminar in Prague
- IFLA ARL International Mentoring Program
I am now a member of the IFLA IL Section and intend to provide reports from the IFLA conference next month.

Photo by Sheila Webber: Someone on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square today

Friday, July 24, 2009

Intute changes

There are some changes coming to Intute. At the end of July they are changing the structure of the website and "releasing 31 new and updated Virtual Training Suite tutorials." The top level page will arrange all the tutorials under 19 subject headings. Since they have discovered that the Virtual Training Suite (VTS) is one of the most popular parts of Intute, they will be making that more prominent from their home page. The Intute VTS website, with its many subject-specific web information tutorials, is at
Photo by Sheila Webber: Cow parsley bank, York, July 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

LTEA conference: evlaution of information resources

Last week I was at the Learning Through Enquiry Alliance conference in Reading. Helen Hathaway and Sally Smith (Information Skills Coordinator & Learning Support Coordinator, at the University of Reading) talked about The Edge of reason supporting students in the critical evaluation of information resources.
Helen started by explaining that at Reading University there is a liaison librarian for each school, who has responsibility for teaching Information Literacy. She then introduced the SCONUL 7 Pillars model of information literacy, which will be familiar to many readers, and mentioned challenges in students knowing what they need to know, and identifying the gaps in their knowledge.

She handed over to Sally to discuss the issue of information evlauation. Sally used the metaphor of shopping in a cheapo market vs. John Lewis (a reputable department store) and linked it with the need to raise awareness during the students' transition from school to university. As well as class size increasing, the size and complexity of the library also increases, so it is easy to see how students might become overwhelmed. They do organise visits for schools to library, including a quiz.

Students studying English are asked to think of reasons why they need the library, and ideas include needing to compare your views with those of credible authors. In another case, in Chemistry, students have to find one site they would recommend and one site they would not, with reasons, and they use Delicious to share. What was difficult was to judge was the impact in the modules, since the librarians would not see the work that the students have done: feedback from academic staff was valuable in this context.

Helen and Sally mentioned a wide range of support and training, including the online Cyberlibrary module - which is at but you need to be registered at Reading University to use it.

At the end of the session Helen and Sally circulated mini questionnaires and asked people to chat in pairs or threes to identify ways in which librarians could be more effectively involved in information literacy in the curriculum. A number of groups handed back sheets before they left, so this seemed a good way to gather ideas even though there wasn't much time left at the end (most of the presentation sessions at this conference were only half an hour)
I also noted a reference to the Thanks Wikopedia graduation t-shirt ;-)

Photo by Sheila Webber: Friendship Bridge at Reading University, July 2009.

LTEA conference: Information Literacy at Sheffield

Last week I was at the Learning Through Enquiry Alliance conference in Reading.
Vicky Grant and Maria Mawson (Sheffield University Library, pictured right) presented a paper Information rich and knowledge poor? Information literacy as a core asset for inquiry based learning (IBL).
Firstly Vicky sketched out the information rich world and highlighted that the library is communicating in many different ways e.g. via Twitter, blogs, Facebook. She identified librarians as teachers of information literacy, emphasising that way that they do things has changed although the role remains. Vicky showed how their work as librarians links in with the Sheffield Graduate Attributes, and other institutional skills-based developments e.g. TASH and Sheffield University's focus on Inquiry Based Learning.
Maria took over and started by talking about McGuinness (2007) and she went on to talk about the IBL prject Developing a library community for IBL 2007-8 which was a development series that took place over a number of months, with lunchtime sessions that the librarians participated in to develop their ideas and practice of IBL.
Then she talked about the way in which IL was integrated into a core module Understanding Law, that is taken by several hundred students each year. An electronic workbook was developed, and there was collaboration between the Law School and the librarians in developing the material. As a support mechanism, a discussion board is very actively used - with thousands of posts each year. Sudents are encouraged to answer each others' questions, but Maria is also part of the team that monitors postings and answering ones where she can help. Thus librarians are visible as team members from the start of the law degree. There is a case study here: (there are links to articles on the right of this page)
Vicky resumed to talk about her work in the medical school. She had been involved in a less effective way introducing the library early on. Now she gets engaged early on, and Vicky has a joint lecture with an academic, talking about medical evidence, which is followed up by a workshop that helps students identify good evidence for a coursework assignment. At the end Maria also mentioned work with MBA students that had again moved away from the traditional model.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sharing good practice in Evidence-Based Information Literacy

The NHS England Library Staff Development Group, London Health Libraries and the Consortium of Independent Health Information Libraries in London have announced a conference on Sharing good practice in Evidence-Based Information Literacy (EBIL) which will take place on 17 September 2009 at the Wellcome Conference Centre. The conference aim is to bring together the IL educators who have completed the courses and projects that were sponsored by the National Library for Health. The event is free of charge and will offer the opportunity to discuss and share good practice with conference attendees drawn from NHS, university-related libraries and independent health libraries. The full programme can be found
Booking is at
Photo by Sheila Webber, photoshopped.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Journal of Information Literacy

A new bumper issue of the Journal of Information Literacy has been published, Volume 3 no 1. This is a free online journal. The articles are:
Avril Patterson: A needs analysis for information literacy provision for research: a case study in University College Dublin
Matthew Borg and Erica Stretton: My students and other animals. Or a vulture, an orb weaver spider, a giant panda and 900 undergraduate business students Paul Verlander and Catherine Scutt: Teaching information skills to large groups with limited time and resources
Moira J Bent and Elizabeth A Stockdale: Integrating information literacy as a habit of learning - assessing the impact of a golden thread of IL through the curriculum
Sarah Whittaker and Joanne Dunham: Experimenting with Web 2.0 to cultivate information literacy within a medical ethics, law and human rights course
Jacqueline Cousins and Kate Perris: Supporting research at the Faculty of Medicine: the development of Imperial College London’s Medicine Information Literacy Group
Plus there is a report from the The Librarians' Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC) 2009 at Cardiff; a report on Evolving the NHS Scotland information literacy process model and two book reviews.
Go to:
Photo by Sheila Webber: cherries from my tree (not many this year!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Twitter Vote Report

Somewhat late on noticing this, but the Twitter Vote Report was a mashup project that aimed at pinpointing (& helping to solve) problems people in the US were having in voting in the Presidential elections "As news outlets and blogs will report on Election Day stories, we are building an invaluable resource for thousands of voters to get immediate help. From questions like "where do I vote" or "how do I make sure that my rights are being upheld," Twitter Voter Report augments these efforts by providing a new way for voters to send text messages (aka tweets) via cellphones or computers which will be aggregated and mapped so that everyone can see the Nation's voting problems in real-time." (source)

The main input was people using Twitter. The result of there efforts was an embeddable dynamic map that showed where problems were, and enabled you to see the actual tweets if desired: here it is still on the blog According to the Center for Social Media there were 12,545 submissions from over 7,500 accounts.

This demonstrates people discovering useful ways of using ability of twitter to gather input from dispersed sources and channel them using indexing (hash) tags, particularly combined with other data such as geographic location. There are issues concerning data reliability, since people had to use a hashtag of their zip code as well as the hashtag for the exercise (so there could be misleading information if they got either of them wrong) - but also impressive in teaching so many people the power of indexing / organising information ;-)

Photo by Sheila Webber: Bowl of cherries, July 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Learning Literacies

The Learning Literacies for the Digital Age (LLiDA) project, funded by the JISC and led by Glasgow Caledonian University has produced a final report in the form of a wiki & pdfs. The sections include:
1. Current conceptual and competence frameworks for learning literacies (this is basically a list with some categorisation and links; I might question where they put information literacy)
2. A discussion around how learning literacies and students' aptitudes and
needs are changing
3. A snapshot of some provision in UK HE and FE institutions
4. Examples of excellent practice in learning literacies provision and learner support (a good number of concise descriptions from different institutions, worth browsing)
Photo by Sheila webber: Thessaloniki, June 2009

LTEA conference: academic literacy

Here is another report from the Learning Through Enquiry Alliance conference in Reading 14th-15th July.
Cathy Burnett, Fufy Demisse, Mary Haynes and Sheila Sharpe (Sheffield Hallam University) presented "Now I feel like I'm really at University": using a community of enquiry approach to promote enagement and academic literacy amongst undergraduate students.
The approach they used was adopting the idea of "philosophy for children in schools", feeling it was actually useful for their grown-up students (trainee teachers). The idea is to probe concepts (e.g. "friendship" or "beauty"), encouraging children to form and chose questions for discussion. Underlying the approach are the principles: Critical, Creative, Collaborative and Caring (the 4Cs): there is a society to support this approach SAPERE.
The role of the tutor is to set ground rules and to encourage the "4Cs" in discussion (so students ask critical questions, solve problems collaboratively, are creative in approaching the questions, and caring with each other).The role of students is to pose questions, chose questions and offer suggestions and justify viewpoints using the 4Cs.
The presenters then talked about using it in teacher training at Sheffield Hallam University. At the time celebrity chef Jamie Oliver was doing one of his meals investigations in Rotherham (which is near Sheffield and some students came from there). The general issue of children and junk food was proposed as a topic, then students had to generate a number of possible questions in the first stage, and choose between the possible questions to determine the one they would debate in depth. The question "Is this child abuse?" (i.e. giving them junk food) was chosen.
Ranging through the discussion were issues to do with the value of fast food and it led to debate about what could be done about these issues in the actual school curriculum (i.e. the curriculum the students would in future be contributing to).
Students commented on the seating format (in a circle) and the process structure, as enabling more people to feel it was OK to contribute without anxiety. There was also an interaction between what happened in this seminar and what happened outside: students felt they were learning more about each other as developing professionals and people. Students also noticed the ownership they had of the process, finding information themselves and presenting it to each other (rather than relying on the teacher givingthem material). The multiple perspectives encouraged them to think critically about their own perspective. Therefore this exercise seemed powerful in a number of ways.
If you have sufficient time and control, this seems a good framework for an information literacy exercise, since probing the information need ("what is the question") is prominent, and if information literacy is the focus there could be a particular emphasis on finding and sharing evidence to support your (or other people's) viewpoint.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Pre-conference-dinner - Pimms on the balcony at Henley-on-Thames.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

LTEA conference: Using Delicious

A session that I missed at the Learning Through Enquiry Alliance conference in Reading was by a colleague in The Centre for Inquiry Based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences (CILASS), Jamie Wood. He was talking about using delicious with history students. I have been meaning to link to his PowerPoint on Slideshare about this for a while: so here it is

Photo by Sheila Webber: Thames at Henley, conference dinner.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Umbrella conference: Web 2.0 session

Today I was at the Umbrella conference, giving a session about Second Life with Keri Gray, who runs the specialist recruitment agency Weekes Gray Recruitment. If we put our PowerPoint online I will link to it. In fact working with Keri on this is an example of the use of Second Life to collaborate, since before today we hadn't actually met in person, but our joint session seemd to go well once we had sorted out the technology.

There were sessions about information literacy at Umbrella, but unfortunately they were yesterday (when I was at the LTEA conference) or running in parallel with my session. If I find some blog posts about them or further information I will link to it.
The session I did attend was a good one; Building a successful library Web 2.0 service in 7 steps. Since it has the magic figure 7, like Phil Race's talk (that I blogged in my last post) I decided to blog this now and post the other LTEA items over the next couple of days.
The Web 2.0 talk was given by James Smith (Electronic Information Librarian for Sunderland Public Libraries) and Nick Stopforth (Library and Information Officer at Newcastle Libraries). The approach to the session was to have a slide with icons e.g. a bird sculpture, a telephone pole. Each icon represented a different marketing or strategic principle and each one was paired with a web 2.0 application and example(s) from Newcastle or Sunderland libraries. It wasn't obvious which was which and people in the audience picked an icon to determine what order they were talked about, thus adding a random element of surprise.
The seven principles were as follows. A couple were covered very quickly at the end (or I may not have been paying enough attention earlier on: though it was a very engaging presentation all round):
Customer Demand i.e. responding to demand: example was using Facebook to attract students to public libraries.
Partnership: the example here was podcasting - e.g. working with community radio station and also partnering to help get expertse about how to do podcasting effectively. It was described as a "Kick start in new direction" if you work with others. They played an example podcast from the Northern Children's Book Festival, with children describing Dr Who masks and monsters. This was part of developing children to be reporters and doing their own interviewing (an interview with the Lord Mayor was another example): the podcasts are here
Project Based: the message was that a specific project goes down better with management, especially when they know the hardware/software will cost nothing. The example for this principle was using Twitter, for example for the opening of the new city library at Newcastle (which lasted about 3 months in terms of run-up and event).
Service Needs: They mentioned meeting service objectives using communicaton tools - for example use of the Hexagon chat/webcam tool.
Skills development: The issues around using a wiki for staff sharing were described: it seemed a good idea, but it turned out after a while that emails saying things had been updated were being blocked by the local system, so that people weren't aware that new content was going on and neglected it
Targetted: In terms of targetting your audience, they used example of Mashups, with the target audience being schoolchildren. They got a Flickr account, and justified its use by showing it was part of a project aimed at an audience that did not currently use libraries. They put on archival images of Sunderland post World War 2 , and worked with schools for the children to put themselves in these archival pictures. There's also a link on Google maps that shows where the pictures were taken and where bombs in 2WW fell, and where the actual targets (shipyards etc) were. Interestingly this shows how the German bombers tended to under or overshoot. Additionally they were able to link in stories on the BBC "People's war" website. This is Sunderland Libraries Flickr stream

The final principle was Participation (apologies I don't seem to have noted the example for this!)
Photo by Sheila Webber: Peace rose, Sheffield, July 2009

LTEA conference: Phil Race

I have been at the Learning Through Enquiry Alliance conference in Reading. I will provide a few reports.

The keynote today was from Phil Race. He was aiming for us to learn about "7 straightforward factors which underpin successful learning". He posts his main slides on his website at so they will be there soon and there are lots of sets of slides there already.
He did not reveal the 7 factors until the end of his talk, but for people who don't want to read any further they are:
- learning by doing;
- learning from feedback;
- wanting to learn;
- needing to learn;
- making sense of things;
- learning through coaching & explaining teaching;
- learning through assessing: making informed judgements.

He did a post-it exercise, where we had to complete the sentence "Teaching would be much better for me if only I.." and then swap round our post-its and a few people read some out (wanting more time and connecting with/ understanding students were themes). His point was really about the post-its as "non threatening space" for people to express their thoughts.

He then talked about assessment as learning (rather than of learning or for learning). He felt that assessment in Higher Education was "broken": there was strong awareness of what we ought to be doing (and research backing that up) but it doesn't always happen.
Another point was "Timing of feedback is critical", I think in particular criticising people who ask questions in class and don't wait long enough fot answers, or don't stimulate activity to answer the qustions. I must say that I stopped just asking questions like that in class some time ago, since I don't find it terribly productive. Interestingly to me, Phil Race was framing that as getting students to handle this as information and process/communicate it.

In terms of what helped people learn something they were good at: practice, trial and error often emerged as key. This led to Professor Race identifying Inquiry Based Learning as helping people to make mistakes in the right place, at the right time, so they can learn from them.

Two items he recommended at the end of his talk were:
Sadler, D.R. (2009). Indeterminacy in the use of preset criteria for assessment and grading in higher education. Assessment and Evaluation in higher education, 34 (2), 159 - 179
Coffield, F., Moseley, D., Hall, E. and Ecclestone, K. (2004) Learning Styles and Pedagogy in post-16 learning: a systematic and critical review. London: Learning and Skills Research Centre
Photo by Sheila Webber: Professor Race asked us to put post-its we'd swapped on the wall as we went out, so we did.

Students' Use of Research Content in Teaching and Learning

On lis-infoliteracy Jonathan Westaway announced a report from the Centre for Research-informed Teaching (CRiT) at the University of Central Lancashire, produced for the JISC Scholarly Communications Working Group. It has a literature review, and then reports on the results of an online survey (400 respondents) and focus groups with students in 4 universities.
Hampton-Reeves, S. et al. (2009) Students' Use of Research Content in Teaching and Learning. Preston: Centre for Research-informed Teaching

Monday, July 13, 2009

First Year Experience

I notice a couple of papers on information literacy in the proceedings of the Pacific Rim First Year Experience in Higher Education conference that took place two weeks ago in Townsville, Australia. They are:
Alison M Dean, Kym Cowley and Michelle Yung (Newcastle Business School, University of
Nevcastle (Australia) Embedding Information Literacy in Commencing Student Assessment Tasks as a Foundation for Generic Skills.

Claire Brooks (La Trobe University): Can't I just Google? (this is a shorter paper presented at a "nuts and bolts" session)

Photo by Sheila Webber: Yeppoon, Australia, 2008

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cite Them Right & Plagiarism Conference

The guide to referencing and citation, Cite them Right is now available in an electronic format for institutional licensing: see The hard copy is advertised at with discounts for bulk purchases by educational establishments.

Mentioned in the same email that announced this was the 4th International Plagiarism Conference, which will take place in Newcastle-upon-Tyne 21-23 June, 2010. No details at time of writing, but they will be posted at While checking this I noticed the useful proceedings of the last conference were online at

Friday, July 10, 2009

Information Inquiry

I haven't had time to explore it, but I just came a cross a new-to-me resource from Danny Callison and Annette Lamb: the Virtual Information Inquiry website. "It combines resources from workshops and previous publications along with original works. ... Much of the website is based on materials from Key Words, Concepts and Methods for Information Age Instruction: A Guide to Teaching Information Inquiry by Daniel Callison (2003) and THE BLUE BOOK on Information Age Inquiry, Instruction, and Literacy by Daniel Callison and Leslie Preddy (2006)." The site is divided into 4 sections: Information Inquiry; Student Info Scientists (based on the idea that every student has to be one - the particular focus is on school children); Instructional Specialists; and Learning Lab (use of specific tools, technologies, learning spaces). Each of these sections has lots of subsections, offering definitions, advice and additional links. There is a lot there and the only problem I encountered was that the videos produced the the authors themselves were password protected.

Photo by Sheila Webber: They don't clean the upper windows very often in our building (see here and here), and this is how they do it.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Second Life/ Schools/ Information Literacy

I put together a Netvibes page with two Slidecasts (powerpoint plus recorded commentary) and various links and embedded videos selected for particular relevance to schools (including a good one from Teachers TV which has teachers and pupils talking about using teen Second Life). This was for the Information Literacy with Web 2.0 virtual seminar. The Netvibes page is here:
and this is the first of the slidecasts:

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


I had already blogged the Information Mangement Infokit produced by JISC. Infokits "contain a wealth of 'self-help' material", which often have how-tos and examples. Further Infokits include Planning & Designing Technology-Rich Learning Spaces and Social software. The latter has a section each on different types of social software, with short explanations and links to examples, and then a section on issues to do with using social software, such as Legal Issues and Editorial Policies, plus further reading. There are some additional resources linked from this page, e.g. case studies in e-learning.

Photo by Sheila Webber: Sea the Stars led home in triumph after winning the Eclipse; the first horse to win the Derby, Guineas and Eclipse treble since Nashwan. Mick Kinane up, and trainer John Oxx on the right. Sandown, July 2009

Monday, July 06, 2009

Centre for the Study of New Literacies

The Centre for the Study of New Literacies was launched today, based at the School of Education at Sheffield University. "The Centre comes from the perspective that literacy is a social practice and that literacy practices are embedded within everyday life." It is led by Dr Kate Pahl and Dr Julia Davies. The event, which included talks by Professor Anne Haas Dyson and Angela Thomas, also launched the new book:
Davies, J. and Merchant, G. (2009) Web 2.0 for schools. Peter Lang Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4331-0263-9
There is a ning group just starting out for the Centre

Sunday, July 05, 2009

i3 report: Research Information Network

I'm afraid I am taking a while in finishing off my final few reports from the i3 conference that took place at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland a few weeks ago. I've got another couple of half-finished reports, here's one I manged to tidy up!
Sharon Markless and David Streatfield talked about the findings from the Research Information Network report "Mind the skills gap". ("The report focuses on the nature, extent and organisation of the information-related training for researchers that is provided by universities and other higher education institutions. It looks at the roles that librarians and other information specialists play and how the training that they provide fits with the wider provision of generic training for researchers.")
The speakers' first point was about how the research evidence, as much of it as there is, indicates that transfer of skills from one context to another is difficult and certainly cannot be assumed. Therefore pushing "generic skills" courses (as has happened with Roberts money (i.e. money invested in the UK to support "employability" and research skills of research students) is problematic.
Markless and Streatfield saw a problem not so much in academics' view of the library, but rather the librarians' perception of the library and its role. In terms of events put on by librarians for researchers, they reported quite a "traditional" narrow range of activities, if you consider the full range of information literacy related support and education librarians could provide. The things which librarians most frequently mentioned (in the report) were doing literature searching, sessions on citing material, finding research material. There seemed to be more scope for them offering education to do with personal information management, evaluating information, development of metadata.
In terms of "how effective was the Roberts money" Markless and Streatfield felt it hadn't been very effective at all as regards involving/leveraging librarians. Academics also tended to talk about information skills rather than information literacy; librarians were talking about IL, but delivering information skills. In particular, Markless and Streatfield noted that people developing the Roberts programmes might well have been open to suggestions for IL. Another missed opportunity was the Vitae website: librarians were not contributing to "best practice" part of the website.
Another key message is/should be "it isn't all about training". The training offered did not sound appropriately constructivist. It could have been more successful if the "trainers" had got to know the researchers, and started to understand their needs.

Photo by Sheila Webber: Flag, Thessaloniki, June 2009

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Cutting through the hype to make a confident future library and information profession

Last month I gave a talk at the CILIP East of England ISG meeting, in Foxton, UK. I have now posted it to Slideshare, adding some additional, explanatory notes (mostly in boxes on the slides). The talk was part of a programme that was looking at what skills and knowledge library and information professionals needed to meet the needs of young people. "Cutting through the hype" (in my title) indicates that I think that we shouldn't accept steroetypes & generalisations of what generations are like. The talk wasn't specifically about information literacy, but here it is if you are interested.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

IFLA papers

There are papers about information literacy, literacy & media literacy on the IFLA conference website (which takes place in August, but many papers are posted in advance)
* Broad Horizons: The Role of Multimodal Literacy in 21st Century Library Instruction
SEAN CORDES (Western Illinois University, Macomb , USA )
* A method for the design, delivery and evaluation of an information literacy programme for development workers studying Participation, Power and Social Change
MARK HEPWORTH (Loughborough University , Loughborough, United Kingdom) and JULIE BRITTAIN (Institute of Development Studies , Brighton , United Kingdom )
* Community Learning Centre (CLC): Developing a Learning Society in Bangladesh
* A constructivist approach to media literacy education: The role of the library
KIM E. MOODY (Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
* Effects of Online Audio-Book Resources on Library Usage and Reading Preferences and Practices of Young Learners in an Elementary School Library Setting in Hong Kong
PATRICK LO (Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK; Hong Kong (SAR), China)
* Visual literacy: to comics or not to comics? How libraries can promote literacy using comics
LEONÉ TIEMENSMA (Midrand Graduate Institute, Kempton Park, South Africa)
* Promote Popular Cultural Literacy throughout the Countryside in China
HUANG QUNQING and XU YIXING (Sun Yat-sen Library of Guangdong Province, Guangzhou, China)

The whole programme is at
Photo by Sheila Webber: Tiny tiny strawberries in my garden, July 2009

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Inspirational items for learning

Below is a link to an output from a project that two students on the MA Librarianship course here at Sheffield University, David Brown and George Davies, undertook for my Information Literacy Research class.
Brown, G. and Davies, G. (2009) Inspirational books, articles or web resources shaping the learning and teaching philosophy of attendees at the 2009 LILAC conference. Sheffield: Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield.
This just has a short introduction and the bibliography: the intention is to write it up for a journal (which will include analysis of the comments that people added explaining why they chose the items). "The bibliography results from a survey undertaken at the 2009 Librarians’ Information Literacy (LILAC) conference in Cardiff ... Our research was designed to uncover the books, articles and web resource which attendees at the conference have found inspirational for their learning and teaching philosophies. It was carried out as a comparative study to that of Brier and Lebbin (2006*), who surveyed delegates at the LOEX-of-the-West conference in the USA."
* full reference given in the document.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Ladies' mantle and fern, June 2009