LILAC 2009 – Information Literacy and Public Libraries


Although the majority of speakers and delegates at LILAC are from higher education, public libraries were present in the form on one of the keynote speakers and one of the parallel sessions both of which were very good and tied in with the work of our project partners in the public sector.

Key note – Lesley Burger, Princeton Public Library – From Information Literacy to Digital Citizenship Keynote speakers

Lesley talked about how libraries must enable people to become digital citizens for the 21st Century and that information fuels our democracy she quoted Thomas Jefferson – Information is the currency of democracy. She talked about how in the public library they see people day in day out on a one to one bases and that they see people into and through life starting as children into and through adult life.

She also talked about public libraries working with schools (in the US school libraries are disappearing – worrying trend there for us all both sides of the pond) and that before the teacher gives their pupils an assignment they are brought into the library to do the assignment themselves. Something that Ian McCracken does as part of his staff induction at Govan High in Glasgow.

 Key messages were:

  • Information Literacy for the people – take advantage of teachable moments – consider ever interaction an opportunity to change someone’s life
  • Monitor trends and respond
  • Market your heart out – in areas of influence
  • Making information seeking fun
  • Solve real life problems – tie information literacy to this
  • Share experiences together
  • Invest in technology
  • Reach out to those who need you most
  • Partnerships
  • Lead the way
  • Go for the unexpected where people don’t expect you
  • Never give in.

 The trends she talked about included:

  • Internet is everywhere
  • Information is becoming a commodity
  • Use of dizzying array of communication devices
  • Librarians still navigators
  • Library still trusted resource – on ramp to digital highway – access for those that can’t afford purchasing computers etc.

 I hadn’t heard Lesley speak before but a lot of what she said resonated with me and the work we are doing in the project not just in the public sector but in all areas of life. Hopefully it will inspire others to do more within the public library sector.

The public library parallel session I attended was Lisa Thomas & Karen John – Portfolios and partnership: a pilot information literacy project for secondary schools.

The pilot project was a joint project between Caerphilly Public Library Service and a secondary school which followed on from a European-funded Gateways to Learning project which ran in libraries in South East Wales (2005 -07) delivering informal information skills sessions to adult learners to help them ‘learn how to learn’ – knowing where to look and getting the best. Caerphilly Public Library Service developed a proposal to extend the information skills sessions with 14 – 16 year olds in local secondary schools (a difficult to reach group). They discussed the proposal with the school librarian and ran two sessions.

1.      In the school library:

·         Internet – Surfing Safely, Beyond Google used websites of interest to the teenagers – What’s on TV, What’s in Argos.

·         Tied in with Welsh Baccalaureate.

·         School Librarian went through the OCN Booklet, booklet used as portfolio and school librarian signed off on it

2.      In the Public Library:

·         Looked at range of sources, books etc

·         Introduced teenagers to public libraries and the services they offer.

 Outcomes – hard work gaining teenagers interest and belief that they didn’t know it all and that the public library staff did know a thing or two also staff intensive but positive experience for all and awareness of public library for non users.

The PowerPoint’s from both sessions should be able from the LILAC 2009 website at some stage if anyone is interested in learning more.

More of my postings later.





LILAC 2009 (The Librarians Information Literacy Annual Conference) Cardiff

I’m amazed how quickly LILAC comes around each year. This year was the 5th and it took place at Cardiff University. As usual there were familar faces like John and I’s but this year I noticed that there were quite a few first timers who were enthused about the conference – the keynotes, the parallel sessions, the networking evening at Caerphilly Castle and the conference dinner at the National Museum Cardiff. If that all sounds exhausting then believe me it was. John and I were there to do a presentation at the parallel session (just after the first keynote on the Monday afternoon) – Taking Information Literacy beyound the library. The session went well with 35 people attending and several questions asked at the end with a couple of people seeking us out to discuss specific issues that they wanted advice about including links with schools / transition.

Unfortunately on at the same time was Christopher Walker talking about his PHd research Seeking information: A study of the use and understanding of information by parents and young children. This a really interesting project and an area that hasn’t really been looked at. Speaking to Christopher later at the social networking event he updated us on his research which has been completed and he is currently working on his findings. It is just a pity that he got so few people attending his session.

One parallel session that was fully booked was Moira Bent and Elizabeth Stockdale Integrating information literacy as a habit of learning – assessing the impact of a golden thread of IL in the curriculum. Moira is a Faculty Liasion Librarian and Elizabeth is a Lecturer – Environmental Studies at Newcastle University. The golden thread of explicit information literacy skills was introduced, taught, practiced and assessed within Elizabeth’s environmental studies programme.  Learning logs (what the students did, what they learnt, what they will do next time) and search strategies were submitted as part of credit baring assessments. Informal reviews of the approaches were also made through conversations with staff and students. Elizabeth shared with us some of the things she had learnt as a lecturer:

  • students need encouragement to reflect on skills development
  • direct and credit-bearing assesment – if they want to know if they have done stuff I need to assess
  • library session – if lecturer goes with students it shows it is valued also they might learnt a thing a two

Moira then shared some of the things she had learnt:

  • students benefit from reflecting about their information literacy abilities
  • information literacy isn’t just for librarians
  • we also need to think about teaching habits not just learning habits.

It was really good to see a joint presentation between a librarian and a lecturer and hear their views about information literacy teaching and students. It would be good to see more of this at LILAC.

The presentations should be available from the LILAC 2009 website at some stage.

I will do some more postings about the conference later.