LILAC Student Award: a previous winner’s experience

The 2017 information literacy awards are now open for nominations. The Student Award entitles 2 students to full places at the LILAC conference. Anna Theis (Teaching and Learning Assistant, University of Manchester) was one of last year’s winners. She describes the personal and professional benefits of attending this prestigious event.

I was so delighted to find out that I was a winner of the LILAC 2016 student award. Firstly, because I knew how amazing the experience would be; and secondly, because this was my third attempt applying for the award.

I’ve heard such amazing things about LILAC from colleagues that have attended in previous years and previous student award winners and this made me so determined to attend! My colleagues’ tales included high quality keynotes, hands-on parallel sessions and an exceptionally friendly experience.

Additionally, I’ve been so keen to win the LILAC Student Award as delivering teaching and training to students is one of my favourite parts of my job. I assist on the My Learning Essentials programme at the University of Manchester Library, this is the Library’s academic and information literacy skills programme. I knew that attending LILAC would be a real boost to the way in which I deliver teaching and I wanted to get lots of new ideas and hear about new practices and initiatives that I could bring back to the workplace. I also wanted to apply for LILAC as information literacy is a massive interest of mine and I’m very passionate about its importance. Information literacy is about so much more than finding information. In today’s digital society, areas such as evaluating information, online security and keeping up-to-date are vital to students’ success both within their studies, and when they join the workplace as well as in life itself.

As a part-time student studying at Manchester Metropolitan University, I’ve been eligible for the student award since 2013.  I’ve always wanted to win the LILAC Student Award since I first started my Masters so this year was my final chance to apply as I’m in the final year of my course. This time it was third time lucky for me; one of the best things about winning this ward the third time around is that the conference was held in Dublin, all the more exciting!

Going to LILAC definitely lived up to my high expectations. LILAC really is such a hands-on and fun conference and highlights for me included the keynotes, especially Nicola Whitton’s and Alex Moseley’s keynote ‘What can play do for you?’ Nicola and Alex demonstrated so well how games can encourage people of all ages to have fun and their keynote was the most fun I’ve ever had in a lecture theatre! I also really enjoyed the Lagadothon. I wanted my experience at LILAC to be filled with variety so I wanted to go to something a bit different as well as attending the parallel sessions and the keynotes. Lagadothon was certainly different to anything I’ve been to before! The Lagadothon involved multiple showcases with presenters giving concurrent 10 minute demonstrations to small groups of delegates, all of the Lagadothon presenters were showcasing games that they had developed for library users, the games included jigsaw puzzles, board games and card games. After rotating round each of the presenters’ tables we had to vote for our favourite and the winner would win £500 to develop their prototype. My favourite game was the winning one, ‘Escaping the induction’ by Andrew Walsh in which students have to solve puzzles to escape the library induction, I’m a huge fan of escape rooms so this really appealed to me.  LILAC is an incredibly friendly and welcoming conference, the social events were great and I met lots of interesting people.

My advice to potential applicants for the LILAC student award is to keep trying, review your application each year. The third time I applied, I deleted everything I wrote the last couple of years and started again from scratch, this time trying to get as much passion and enthusiasm for information literacy and my future career goals into the application as possible. My final words of advice are NEVER GIVE UP, next time it may well be you.

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