Eleanor Johnston, Academic Skills Librarian at Staffordshire University, has kindly provided a report on the recent Library TeachMeet event hosted by Staffordshire University Library and sponsored by the CILIP Information Literacy Group.
Staffordshire University Library TeachMeet: “Accessibility in Libraries – an Information Literacy Approach”
On 14th December 2016, Staffordshire University hosted a Library TeachMeet at the Stoke Campus. TeachMeets are an opportunity for staff to share innovations, experience and knowledge and this is the latest in a series of TeachMeets that have been generously supported by the CILIP Information Literacy Group. We were joined by ‘presenters’ and ‘enthusiastic audience members’ gathered from across the country. The event was the fastest ‘sellout’ ever for any of our TeachMeets – really showing the demand from attendees to exchange information and good practice. We had 7 speakers, whiteboards around the room for comments and (a very relaxed) ‘runaround’.
Isobel Ramsden reports on the CILIP Information Literacy Group's first joint event with the CILIP Information Services Group (London & South East), "Supporting Young People in the Digital Information Age: The Role of Libraries in Promoting Transition Skills". The event was held at CILIP on 30th November 2016.
The event started with a talk by Natasha Skeen, Community Liaison Librarian at The Hive, University of Worcester. Natasha’s talk focused on how she supports Key Stage 5 school students in their independent learning. The Hive is both a university and a public library. As such, the public benefit from longer opening hours and access to resources (including on-site access to electronic journals) that they might not have in other public libraries. Natasha said she starts by reminding students of the benefits of reading books. Then, to help them navigate, or ‘decode’, the kinds of book they’d be using for research, she explains some of the academic jargon (Latin terms, ‘peer review’, ‘abstract’) and how to use reference lists and indexes. Moving on to newspapers and social media, she cautions students to look for bias but also uses them as an example of how to write succinctly. Can you tweet the message you’re trying to give? Moreover, she shows students how to trace the sources of statistics so they can check them. When it comes to internet research, Natasha looks at evaluating sources and Google’s Advanced Search, including features such as being able to search by file type. She also recommends using university libraries’ subject guides for curated lists of websites. For access to online journals, Natasha points them to the Directory of Open Access Journals, Google Scholar (useful for citation searching, particularly if students are expected to use recent resources) and Access to Research (online access to publically-funded research at participating public libraries). Finally, she also reminds students that librarians might also know the best resources for something or other means to get information (e.g. interlibrary loans) and can help with things like academic writing. She advised public librarians interested in schools outreach to get in touch with Heads of Sixth Form, EPQ Co-ordinators and teachers, especially Heads of History as there is more of an emphasis on independent research in the new history curriculum.
After the talk, David Haynes of City University of London asked if Natasha discusses online safety, e.g. with regard to privacy and social media, with school students. Natasha pointed out that online safety is usually already taught by schools and mentioned Internet Safety Day (7th February) as a useful opportunity for raising awareness. Natasha was also asked if she’d noticed that students are more stressed, to which she replied that this is something she’s noticed from the students (over 2000!) that she has taught information literacy skills to.
In the next session, Simon Finch and David Bowles, Librarians in the Information and Learning Team at Bexley and Bromley Shared Library Services, talked about their work with local 6th form EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) students. Some of the groups are quite large, which makes it difficult to give targeted advice to individual students, however they try and include ‘worked examples’ based on a list of students’ topics supplied beforehand by schools. In their talk, Simon and David emphasised the need to remind students about what public libraries hold and offer as many students had not used one recently. In their sessions, they stress the continuing value of books and demonstrate how to use the library catalogue to find books. They also talk students through the online resources available to them. Access to Research, for example, gives free online access to publically-funded research at participating public libraries. The initial search for articles can be done anywhere but students must come to the library to read the full text. (And they must use a library computer to read the articles, although they can print them.) And yet, they also acknowledge that much material students might need could be in FE College Libraries to which they might not have access, suggesting a need for more liaison between 6th form heads and FE Colleges. Finally, Simon and David also talk students through how to assess resources and reference them. They summed up by saying that dialogue with teachers/librarians is important as what is required will vary, and that students showed interest during the sessions and said they were useful.
Next, Elizabeth Bentley gave a presentation on Teen Tech, a national STEM and innovation competition aimed at pupils from Y7-13. She focused on the Information Literacy Group’s work with Teen Tech to come up with the Research and Information Literacy Award. Students entering for the TeenTech Awards can also be entered (by their teacher or librarian) for the Research and Information Literacy Award, which rewards use of high quality information and a suitable bibliography amongst other things. The ILG provides freely available resource sheets for schools undertaking the award, including guidance on intellectual property, Google search strategies and evaluating information. The 2016 awards were the first complete cycle for the ILG award and the 45 entries showed relatively poor evidence of IL skills. However these are still early days. And certain barriers might be standing in the way of more entries from schools, such as school staff awareness and understanding. Furthermore, as one participant pointed out, unless teachers support the initiative it won’t go ahead. However, the prize of £1000 to the winning school should be a good incentive! Another participant asked whether the judges give feedback to entrants. Elizabeth said they are thinking about this. Finally, there was a discussion about the fact that the term ‘information literacy’ is not widely understood outside the library community – many teachers/senior leaders in schools haven’t heard about it. It was suggested that greater government endorsement could help rectify this.
In the discussion session, participants were invited to share experiences, tips and ideas. Katy Waters from Poole Libraries talked about her organisation’s recent acquisition of a 3D printer and floated the idea of linking up with Teen Tech. Another participant stressed the value of ILG’s resource sheets for the Teen Tech awards and the need to promote them.
Then, Amy Icke of The Girls Day School Trust (and formerly St Paul’s Girls’ School) and Linda Kelley of St Paul’s Girls’ School talked about how they support sixth formers undertaking Senior Scholarship (SPGS’s equivalent to the EPQ qualification). They said they start by giving a one-hour talk to students at the beginning of the Senior Scholarship programme. It can be difficult to differentiate for different subject areas in one hour. However, they ask girls to put their subjects on post-it notes and then can use these in examples and/or give specific advice in follow-up material. Amy and Linda started by showing us a mind map made using the app Bubbl. This showed the range of topics they needed to cover in one hour, which was quite large! They then showed us a list, which was made using Padlet, of different resources that can help students doing their projects. For example, it recommends EPQ guides created by the universities of Manchester and Birmingham and the Open University’s Being Digital activities. Amy also mentioned The Girls Day School Trust’s videos for students and parents on internet safety – Live My Digital.
Amy then talked more about her research into approaches to information literacy training. She described an apparent gap between teenagers’ knowledge of information literacy skills and application of them. Indeed, according to a recent Ofcom survey, teenagers’ information literacy skills tend to go down as they get older. Amy suggested that doing information literacy training with smaller groups would help. And at a conference she attended, the researchers talked about auditing skills before training to see if they had the right approach. Finally, Amy also talked about a placement she did at Queen Mary University London, where she learnt about ‘free writing’, a technique used by researchers before starting their research, in which they spend five minutes writing everything they want to find out without stopping. This could be a useful technique for students to try before embarking on independent research.
Philippa Price (Subject Librarian for School of Management & College of Engineering, Swansea University) has kindly provided a report of a recent LibTeachMeet, sponsored by the CILIP Information Literacy Group and held at Swansea University.
Sun, sand and employability – LibTeachMeet at Swansea University
The Welsh Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF) Learning and Teaching Group, with sponsorship from the CILIP Information Literacy Group, held a LibTeachMeet at Swansea University’s beachside Bay Campus on the 28th November 2016. It was inspired by an earlier LibTeachMeet at Aberystwyth University which considered ‘How do libraries make you more employable?’. The theme of ‘employability’ at the Swansea event was deliberately broad to offer some flexibility in the topic and focus of the talks.
In the morning sessions, Ellie and Downes and Karen Dewick offered different perspectives on the employability skills of library staff. Ellie, Library Support Assistant at Aberystwyth University, looked at recognising transferable skills in students and in librarians. She reflected on her own recent graduate traineeship at Aber, as well as on her current studies towards a Masters degree in Library and Information Studies. She offered interesting thoughts on the support of skills development in students and ourselves. She rightly noted that skills development never stops and is an ongoing process!
Karen Dewick is Customer Services Co-ordinator at Swansea University’s Bay Library, so she didn’t have far to travel to attend the teachmeet! She began by explaining the new structure of the Customer Service Team at Swansea, which offers frontline support for library, careers and IT help and information. Karen led an interactive session where we were encouraged to discuss and share the important skills needed to work in a modern library and how to demonstrate those skills. Karen, from her perspective as a line manager, ended with some valuable advice on recognising your worth, your ‘unique selling point’, in your current role and when you apply for jobs elsewhere.
After an abundant buffet lunch and the opportunity for a stroll round campus, Sarah Gwenlan, Subject Librarian at Aberystwyth University, talked about her place on the university’s Employment Action Group and how the library can contribute to that work. She highlighted some useful resources, including Aber’s information on the employability support offered by Information Services.
Sarah’s talk was followed by Susan Glen, a Subject Librarian and Research Librarian at Swansea University, who looked at the employability skills of researchers. She identified skills sets from the Vitae Researcher Development Framework – legal and ethical skills, managing information, communication skills and academic skills – and highlighted ways in which the library supports the development of these skills through its contribution to the Postgraduate Research Skills Programme at the university. The Vitae framework is used by the research office to map the skills developed through the training programme.
Towards the end of the afternoon, we were lucky enough to have two speakers from Swansea Employability Academy (SEA) – Rebecca Vaughan and Gareth Hill. Rebecca began by considering the Swansea Employability Award, a SEA initiative, as a learning tool. She introduced the idea of a career journey not as a direct route, as we often think, but as a winding pathway. Rebecca made the point that the learning which takes place along the way (learning which is supported by SEA’s ‘My Career Journey’ framework amongst other resources) is as important as the award itself. As a Swansea University member of staff, Rebecca’s talk led me to think about ways in which we at the library could support students and SEA in this, and I’m sure colleagues from elsewhere were able to relate the concepts to activities in their own institutions.
Gareth Hill ended the day with a lively workshop that considered what employability is, what makes graduates stand out, and getting students to engage (a topic close to all our hearts!). It was great to hear some non-library experiences of trying to reach out to students and encourage them to engage with the support on offer, especially as it became clear that the trials and tribulations Gareth related were much like our own. Key messages that came through from the session were:
Don’t be afraid to try something new. If it doesn’t work, try something else!
Involve students – what do they want? What do the need? What would help them?
Marginal gains – instead of focusing on the big things, which may be difficult to alter, concentrate on all the small improvements which can be made as they can add up to a big change
These were good messages to leave with, and reflected the fact that the day had been an inspiring and thought-provoking one. We attracted 22 attendees from all over South- and Mid-Wales, so thoughts from the day could stimulate some far-reaching changes. And best of all, it didn’t rain!
The 4thEuropean Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL) took place in Prague on 10-13 October. The Czech capital was an inspired choice: an outstandingly beautiful city, full of baroque splendor, a place that in the same breath displays grandeur and intimacy. And then there were the ubiquitous dumplings and the slivovice…
Attending and presenting from the CILIP Information Literacy Group Committee were the three of us: Jane Secker, Chair of the Group; Stéphane Goldstein, Outreach and Advocacy Officer; Geoff Walton, Library School Rep; and also one of our training officers, Andy Walsh. Jane has blogged about her experiences at the conference on the work she’s been doing in copyright education. Stéphane gave a presentation on employability and, as conference rapporteur, made the final address. Andy ran a workshop where participants got to make library games, and Geoff was involved in in three papers on his recent research projects on information discernment, data literacy and IL in Vietnam. The group also sponsored a place at the conference for an ILG member and Kirsten McCormick was delighted to attend and has also written a blog post.
Our hosts, from AKVŠ, the Association of Libraries of Czech Universities, rose to the occasion by running a rich, engrossing and well-organised event. As has become the practice with ECIL, the near 300 participants from 51 countries (including 19 attenders from the UK) took part in an ambitious programme – in all, this comprised of 180 abstracts – covering a wide range of themes, including research methods, health literacy, media literacy, teaching IL, lifelong learning, IL theory, digital literacy, media literacy and more.
The main theme of the conference was the inclusive society – an important and highly current topic that touched on major social, economic and political issues and addressed how IL can allow for playing a full part in society, as citizens, workers, learners, researchers or even patients.
In their different ways, and reflecting different perspectives, the keynotes and invited speakers delved on these challenges. Thus Tara Brabazon spoke about how, in societies characterised by immediacy and impatience, time needs to be found to allow individuals to reflect on information, in order to allow them to play a role as engaged and critical citizens. A podcast of Tara’s keynote is available. Jan Van Dijk set out a hierarchy of skills, from basic digital competencies to high level information literacy, that have to be acquired and nurtured to underpin the sort of 21st century competencies necessary to play a part – and not be left behind – in a world of rapidly evolving economic practices and working patterns. Annemaree Lloyd reminded us of the challenges faced by individuals and communities whose lives have been fractured by hugely difficult circumstances such as war, and who need to rebuild information landscapes in order to integrate into strange (and sadly, sometimes hostile) host societies.
Three strands of the conference were devoted specifically to inclusiveness, participation and democracy, with a strong focus on the role of public or school libraries. But in addition, the inclusive society theme was evident from a range of presentations and posters across the breadth of the programme. It is impossible to do justice to all that was covered, but the selected examples below give a flavour of how the key theme was addressed in different countries:
the notion of library neutrality, and a more interventionist role for librarians in helping to address difficult issues stemming from major political crises (France);
the attitude of trainee teachers to social inclusion (Croatia);
the relationship between lack of access to school library programmes, including IL teaching, and social exclusion in disadvantaged neighbourhoods (USA);
practical steps towards facilitating the integration of immigrants through library information literacy programmes (USA) or library centred intercultural activities (Czech Republic);
the level of digital engagement of elderly people, to ensure that they remain active participants in society (Czech Republic);
the ACRL Framework as a dynamic approach to considering issues of empowerment, social justice and inclusion in the furtherance of knowledge (USA);
the ‘Unconference’ – the informal session that preceded the main conference – also covered issues of greater participation through crossing and expanding information boundaries and breaking out of constrained information boxes;
last but not least, the engaging and though provoking panel session run by the CILIP Information Literacy Group, Tinder Foundation and InformAll demonstrated how public libraries work collaboratively with a range of stakeholders in local communities in order to promote digital inclusion (UK). We have made our slides available here.
An inclusive society means reaching out, and we heard much about how librarians achieve this and build relationships – often imaginatively and under pressure – in order to advance the case of IL.
But perhaps ECIL needs to do the same too. This year, as in previous years, we were privileged to take part in a multi-faceted event that covered a wide range of perspectives. However, these perspectives were presented essentially, with a few exceptions, by experts from the library or information sciences worlds. Doesn’t inclusiveness suggest a need to open up to other groups of stakeholders, albeit without losing the essential scholarly nature of the event?
In a presentation on employers’ requirements, Vjeran Bušelić, who has a background in business and ICT, stressed the importance of adapting to the language and practices of employers when seeking to demonstrate the relevance of IL to workplace settings. This implies putting ourselves in the shoes of players whose policies and practices touch on IL, but who never refer to it as such. Should ECIL draw from this point in future by involving at least a small number of speakers and participants from other stakeholder groups who could enrich the conference by providing their own perspectives? For instance, inviting the following:
inviting elected representatives, citizens’ forums, representatives of civil society, think tanks, policymakers when looking at IL in terms of participation and democracy;
human resources/recruitment managers, knowledge and information managers, entrepreneurs, trade union when considering IL in workplace contexts;
healthcare professionals and patient groups when discussing health IL.
But there is a major caveat: ECIL and the IL community will only attract the interest of such groups if it can be clearly demonstrated how and why IL is relevant to them; and if we can answer the obvious question posed by our interlocutors, ‘what does IL have to do with me, and why does it matter?’ That is a huge challenge, but ECIL, through the research, networking and outreach undertaken by participants, could be well-placed to initiate and develop such a cross-cutting dialogue. Food for thought in anticipation of next year’s event in St Malo, the privateer city on the north coast of Brittany.
Rebecca Jones, the CILIP IL Group's School Representative, reports on her attendance at the TeenTech 2016 Award ceremony that took place at Buckingham Palace in October. The CILIP Information Literacy Group, in partnership with the TeenTech initiative, presented a Research and Information Literacy Award for 11-16 year olds to celebrate how well young people can dispel the ‘Google Generation’ myth and show that they can be truly information literate researchers.
This year I was fortunate enough to represent ILG at the TeenTech prize giving ceremony that was held at Buckingham Palace and hosted by HRH Duke of York. The TeenTech Awards were established in 2012-13 to encourage students to think about how they can apply science and technology to real world problems. This year was the second time that the award for Research and Information Literacy has been presented.
All the winners from the finals that were held at The Royal Society in June were present, along with their respective teacher, mentor or librarian in the case of the team from Oakham school who won the ILG Research and Information Award with their innovation K-Charge.
It was inspiring to hear about the development since the Summer with some of the projects which included sponsorship deals, manufacturing plans and collaboration with industry to turn their winning ideas into actual products. The progress and opportunities that these pupils had created for themselves by responding to TeenTech is really impressive.
Maggie Philbin, CEO of TeenTech introduced and interviewed the winners and the Duke of York gave a short speech at the end of the presentations congratulating the winners on their creativity and determination. This year winners were invited to act as ambassadors for the competition and to inspire other young people to take part and innovate.
All the teams had brought along their design boards and were able to talk about their ideas to other schools and the sponsors. It was a very special occasion that both I and all the winners will remember. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the perseverance, creativity, and determination that has lead to successful teamwork, research and development.
The next round of the awards are now open for teams to enter – full details are on the TeenTech website. The ILG has also produced some research guides to support effective and efficient research.
ILG also hope to be running an Innovation Day in December in Manchester with more details coming soon!