Digital detoxing - librarians and information literacy

LILAC attracts librarians and information professionals who teach or are interested in information and digital literacies.

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Information Literacy - 'a process, not a product'

The Librarians' Information Literacy Annual Conference (better known as LILAC) focuses on the role of librarians and information professionals in driving information and digital literacies.  This year's event was held at Glasgow Caledonian University.

The importance of demonstrating value

The conference keynotes stressed the importance and value of what educators and librarians can provide.  Megan Oakleaf set the scene for the event by talking about the importance of demonstrating the strategic value of the library. She called for librarians to look at the aims of our institutions and to gather evidence to show how teaching IL impacts on those goals. She was particularly vocal about the focus of library publicity material.  Impact should be at the forefront of our publicity.

Lord Puttnam of Queensgate spoke about the future of learning and the need for a 'digital pedagogy' rather than the digitisation of the existing curriculum.  He spoke about the gap between the daily experiences of students and what they experience in the classroom.  Librarians - alongside teachers - are the trusted guides of the future.

Using a series of emails as evidence to tell her story 'Time for a Digital Detox, Tara Brabazon suggested that all first year university students should undergo a compulsory information literacy component. She refers to Google as the 'McDonalds of information', keeping learners comfortable but without challenge.  She believes that librarians and teachers can provide valuable interventions helping students move from information obesity, through a digital detox and towards 'digital dieting' where the use of fewer media will result in better information.

Real world experience

The parallel sessions provided examples of good practice from around the world.  

  • At Michigan State University librarians work closely with the academics responsible for teaching a compulsory course.
  • Helen Westwood described the Cass Library Certification scheme. Students attend business e-resource workshops, which are marked on a loyalty card, and on completion are given a certificate. With Oakleaf's speech in mind, Cass is clearly impacting positively on the employability of the students by equipping them with the skills and proof that they can research.
  • Andrew Walsh outlined the development of 'Lemon Tree', a library game that can be played on Facebook. This involves students gathering points by taking part in activities like borrowing books. The rationale behind the game is to encourage students that visit the social spaces of the library to borrow more books. Students can comment on books borrowed and share with other users.
  • The University of East London team spoke enthusiastically about their collaboration with careers in the production of an online resource called Info Skills. The importance of measuring impact was highlighted again and it was found that usage peaked at assignment times, which showed an indisputable need for the resource.
  • Geoff Walton and Mark Hepworth asked their audience to consider the barriers to information literacy for students. Are librarians or their services the ultimate barrier? Another session led by Geoff outlined how he had used online discussions for peer assessment with students.
  • Staff at McGill University Library described how they took ownership of the skills gap that affected students using mobile technology to access library resources. A series of workshops addressing these matters were set up and delivered to students, library staff and the faculty.
  • Alan Carbery used a problem-based learning approach to his IL teaching. Rather than instructing the students to search for something in particular he presented them with a trigger from which they were asked to brainstorm and construct an appropriate search, and present in groups of three.

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