Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Black Lives Matter, Brexit and Covid-19 discussed Information literacy in a post-2020 world #FestivIL

In the keynote session today at FestivIL, Alison Hicks, Maud Cooper, Sae Matsuno, Eva Pickersgill, David Smith, Grace Troth (all University College London) led a session on  Black Lives Matter, Brexit and Covid-19 discussed Information literacy in a post-2020 world. I'll start with the video that was prerecorded, and give my own summary of that (and add the link when it's made public).It started with the speakers proposing a theme or word. Cooper's word was Chaos, referring to the problems of the pandemic and how she had "discovered as a professional the importance of when to stop searching for more". Matsuno's theme was Learning about silence, drawing on experience of doing oral history interviews: silence is significant in interviews, and Matsuno felt silence can also have different forms and meanings in different information landscapes (for example indicating things which are hidden or missing, or more positively, being part of relaxation or tranquility).
Pickersgill's theme was the Digital Divide , which has highlighted by the pandemic: in particular she talked about digital divide in the workplace. Smith choose Looking for meaning by coping with illness, specifically mental illness, and he referred to pscho education practice which could provide principles that could be embedded in information literacy education. He also mentioned bibliotherapy, and talked more about this in the live session, including the added value of having a facilitator (information literacy/librarian) working through the bibliography. A key goal is to support people to see themselves as coping, rather than suffering. In the live session he also mentioned the challenge of getting people to take pre-emptive action - how could one encourage and support people to do that.
Finally Troth's theme was Open doors, closed windows of opportunities, thinking about the way in which libraries were opening more as unstaffed spaces (more hours open, but in some cases fewer hours staffed), so there were fewer opportunities for being supported by library staff. 
The video then went on to a discussion of information literacy post 2020/pandemic. Themes included: new awareness of shared problems (e.g. isolation) with potential for a more joined-up approach & IL helping us to address conflicting discourses; the pandemic having accelerated the shift online (rather than triggering it) and the question of whether information literacy teaching might have to move online more permanently; similarly the pandemic had exposed inequalities that already existed, which should prompt people to reflect more critically and empathetically, and consider actions they could take. Information Literacy could have the potential to help foster this process of reflection and action.
In the live session today, there was a focus on question and discussion. I have been distracted by the fact that I'm chairing the panel session that's on next, so my attention was not as good as it should have been! Discussion included debating what the place of information literacy was in the future; and whether the information literacy researchers and practitioners were in a position to meet the current challenges (COVID, climate change etc.) (Hicks thought that the answer was yes - but it meant critically reflecting on your own practice and taking action). There was also discussion about conspiracy theory and how we respond to them; the fact that a low amount of literature focuses on IL in public libraries (and why this might be); the problem of people just being expected to "pick up" digital/information literacy; the importance of understanding and presenting data, and reflecting on ethical issues related to data; people's growing awareness of the impact on others of what they put online.

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