Friday, July 29, 2022

Digital by Default, Inclusive by Design? #WLIC2022

Today I'm speaking at the IFLA WLIC 2022 Satellite Conference: SET Training School: Towards a Curriculum for Social and Digital Inclusion and Lifelong Learning. I will post my presentation when I've uploaded it to Slideshare, and will also do some liveblogging. 

The first speaker today was Marta Bustillo (University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland) on Digital by Default, Inclusive by Design? Musings on 21st Century Librarianship She started by talking about Maria Moliner, who Bustillo named as her librarian hero. Amongst other things, Moliner was the first woman to teach at the University of Murcia, Spain, in 1924, and she worked in a team setting up a network of rural libraries across Spain. Despite being purged from her post when Franco came to power, she still carried on and her most remembered achievement was compiling a dictionary of Spanish usage, which is still held in high regard. Bustillo emphasised that the connection to her talk was Moliner's belief in the power of libraries, inclusion, vision and tenacity. 

Moving on to the theme of "digital by default", the speaker cited statistics that there is an estimated 7.9 billion population in the world, of which 5 billion have internet access. This raises the question of who is being left behind by making as much as possible digital, and also thinking about whether this race to the digital is giving libraries less control over materials etc. (as more and more is in the control of a handful of companies, in the cloud). Bustillo noted that "Digital is neither accessible not inclusive" and not sustainable if our energy supply is threatened. 

She then gave the example of UCD Library Digital Literacy initiative, and there is information here Digital Literacy was chosen as the focus of the initiative as it is mentioned in documents such as UCD's strategic plan. They have created a framework based on the European Union's one, have designed a digital skills portfolio that students should build up, and aim to embed digital skills in programmes of study. She identified that this work required many skills: course design, teaching, collaboration, technical knowledge, advocacy, and the ability to use research methods and carry out evaluation.

This obviously leads to the question of what is needed in library and information courses. She raised the question of whether the courses should aim for depth or breadth, and just skills and knowledge, or more than that. She has been working with a network aiming to educate librarians about open education, European Network of Open Education Librarians. On the issue of inclusivity - since communities are diverse, there is the question of how that can be reflected in the spectrum of libraries and their activities (e.g. format decisions, library design, staff management, hiring, collection development). Bustillo emphasised that librarianship is a profession about people, and that librarians must work successfully and empathetically with their communities. Therefore she wanted to turn round the title of her talk - that it should be Inclusive by Default and Digital by Design.

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