Scottish Information Literacy Project finishes at Glasgow Caledonian University

The Scottish Information Literacy Project comes to a close at Glasgow Caledonian University after five very successful years, having worked in partnership with cross sector partners in secondary and tertiary education, the world of work and the wider community, relevant non governmental agencies such as Learning and Teaching Scotland,  the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, Scottish Qualifications Authority, Skills Development Scotland, Ofcom Scotland and professional bodies.

During this time the project successfully gained funding to work on research and development projects including the creation and development of a National Information Literacy Framework (Scotland). The project was asked to speak on many occasions at conferences, meetings and seminars plus successfully organised and ran three open meetings for the project partners and interested parties bring together cross sector organisations.

Discussions are taking place to keep the project blog and website at the university as they are a record of the projects work plus a valuable resource and move the National Information Literacy Framework (Scotland) to a new home so that the framework can continue to develop.

We would like to thank the project partners, interested parties and colleagues at Glasgow Caledonian University who generously gave their time, expertise and support to the project in their efforts to gain funding and then deliver the objectives.

Whilst the project at Glasgow Caledonian University has come to an end our involvement in information literacy has not.   We are currently co-writing a book chapter on information literacy in the workplace and plan to co-author a book based on the project work and experience. There are also articles to write about the project work and we will continue to contribute to the Scottish Government Community of Practice Creating an information literate Scotland. For anyone interested in joining the CoP email or

A project email account has been set up at  if anyone wishes to contact us.


Christine Irving & John Crawford

April 2010

Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC) 2010

This years LILAC took place in Limerick with both John Crawford and myself presenting the last of the Scottish Information Literacy Projects which appropriately dealt with:

The sessions were well attended and in true project style dealing with little covered information literacy areas / issues. The work of the project was acknowledged by project partners Lesley Thomson, Jenny Foreman and Morag Higgison, and Andy Jackson and by Bob Glass from Manchester Metropolitan University (didn’t realise that Bob was musical until I heard him play the guitar and sing at the networking evening)) who chaired John’s session.

Lesley’s presentation Developing an information literacy community of practice in Scotland was really interesting and I plan to continue participating in the community despite the end of the project and would recommend others to join. Just email or

Jenny and Morag’s presentation Scottish Government information literacy in the work place – measuring impact gave an insight into their information literacy work within the Scottish Government and their investigation measuring the impact. Ralph Catts (Senior Research Fellow at Stirling Institute of Education) one of the keynote speakers attended their session and commended them for evaluating what they were doing as it would be important in the difficult times ahead. Unfortunately I didn’t get to hear his entire keynote ‘Evaluating the Impact of Information Literacy’ as I had a plane to catch. I did hear the other keynotes including Tony Durcan Head of Culture, Libraries and Lifelong Learning for Newcastle City Council who spoke about the role of  information literacy and public libraries ‘Information is as vital to the healthy functioning of communities as clean air, safe streets, good schools and public health’

Andy Jackson was as ever thought provoking in his session / workshop Just enough education to perform: Information skills, professionalism and employability. He certainly made those who attended think as he suggested that HE needs to look further at graduate attributes and refocus their information skills teaching more towards the graduate. He cited the work of “Simon Barrie (2006; 2008) and others on concepts of ‘graduateness’ places information skills at the heart of what it is to be a graduate”. He also highlighted that HE should

  • seek ways of engaging with the professions
  • offer focused training
  • make connections with local employment forums, skills agencies etc
  • develop the workplace information profession.

The workshop activities he had us doing included thinking about What professional skills did we learn which have been useful in our career? And What attitudes or values did we feel we developed through attending University?. The next activity was we had to select an information skills activity from a list of six he gave us (the group I was in selected – Effective Internet searching) we were also given two Graduate Attributes (we had Develop enterprise skills and commercial awareness and Hold a perspective that acknowledges local, national and international concerns) which we were to build into a learning activity. Then we had to create a brief plan for our learning activity. The examples given in the feedback were interesting and I hope people went away and as Andy suggested actively sought out what their university was doing regarding garduateness and employability and engage with it demonstrating the role of the library / librarians.

Other presentations I attended included Geoff Walton’s ‘Having a shufti: using focus group findings to map unchartered territory in the information literacy landscape’ – informative as ever in relation to the learning support tool ASK (Assignment Survival Kit)  I also attended Ruth Stubbing and Jo Myhill’s presentation Developing librarians as teachers to enhance the learner experience to hear about SirLearnaLot an online tutorial that aims to help library staff enhance their understanding of pedagogy so that they can feel confident in designing and delivering teaching.

There were a couple of interesting Posters:

  • So-Young Kim (University of Tokyo) – What are the Post-Effects of Japan’s National Curriculum Standards? : Inquiry based Learning and Elementary School Libraries. So-Young Kim attended my presentation and was very interested in the work I was doing in schools.
  • Katherine Reedy (Open University) – i-know  at the OU: information skills for the 21st century workplace. I have posted about this work previously.
  • Sheila Corrall (University of Sheffield)  – Mapping Information Literacy Strategy. Sheila has done a lot of work in this area.

The project also got national mentions from both Wales and Ireland. A mention from Cathie Jackson (Cardiff University) who in her presentation An information literacy strategy for Wales: towards a national framework acknowledged that their inspiration came from the Scottish Information Literacy Project. Great news that they have got nine months funding to employ a project officer to take things forward for them and I wish them all the best. Ireland has also been inspired by the project and Dr Philip Cohen (Head of Library Services, Dublin Institute of Technology) attended both the project sessions and Lesley Thomson’s session on the community of practice in Scotland. I spoke to Philip and Siobhán Fitzpatrick the President of the Library Association of Ireland at the conference dinner and Siobhán gave us a mention in her address after the conference dinner. It is great to think that we have inspired so many people and countries.

It was also good to hear the minister who opened the conference that information literacy was a key support for lifelong learning and that the role of librarian and education was crucial at this time for developing the individual.

Christine Irving

Practical Pedagogy for Library Instructors

I have recently been reading Practical Pedagogy for Library Instructors: 17 Innovative Strategies to Improve Student learning edited by Douglas Cook and Ryan L. Sittler and wanted to share a few of my thoughts about it.

I was attracted to this book as I feel that it is important for librarians and information professionals to be aware of and have an understanding of pedagogic issues when involved in information literacy skills sessions / courses / teaching.

It starts with a bit of theory and two major pedaogical paradigms:

  1. Direct Instruction strategies when you need to present information for students as efficiently and as effectively as possible
  2. Student-Centered Learning strategies when you want to stress student engagement with learning

It asks the question of “Why should you, as a librarian, be concerned about educational theory and pedagogical practices? and “the short the answer is that how you teach makes a difference in what your students learn” .

The key messages from the first chapter is:

First, decide what you would like your students to learn, and then you can determine how to move your students towards your desired outcome. learning about various educational theories and related teaching strategies can give you the tools you need as an instructor to assist students in reaching your intended learning outcomes.

Begin your lesson planning by deciding whether the learning opportunity calls for Direct Instruction or Student-Centered Learning. Pg 17 & 18

The two pedagogies are discussed at some length but the main strength for me in this chapter is the really useful overview of these laid out in a table. From this you can see that Direct Instruction (Objectivist) is linked to Cognitive and Behavioural theories of learning where knowledge is fixed and needs to be acquired. Very much teacher led. Student-Centered Learning (Constructivist) is linked to Situated and Critical theories of learning where knowledge is constantly changing and is built upon what participants contribute and construct together. Learning is contextual and instructional strategies include life-based projects / life related situations.

In our information literacy advocacy work I certainly recognise more of the later strategy / learning theories as we engage in conversations using examples that are situated within individuals own environment (profession, subject, sector etc.) as information literacy means different things to different people in different environments / situations. When I look at the examples of good information literacy practice / case studies we have collected from our project partners many are student centered however there are elements of direct instruction and the case studies in the book reflects this.

Chapters 2 – 8 cover Direct Instruction examples / case studies

Chapters 9 – 18 cover Student-Centered Learning examples / case studies

The case studies re really interesting and I liked the practical advise within them and that they could be replicated not just within higher education (universities) where they are set but within FE colleges and probably schools. If you are looking for some inspiration then there is lots here.

Practical Pedagogy for Library Instructors: 17 Innovative Strategies to Improve Student Learning. Eds. Douglas Cook and Ryan L. Sittler for the Association of College and Research Libraries. Chicago: American Library Association, 2008. 184 p. alk. paper, $32 (ISBN 9780838984581). LC 2008-8219.

Libraries contribute to economy and health

John Crawford has a letter Libraries contribute to economy and health in today’s (Thursday 25th March 2010) Herald in response to Tuesday’s article about East Dunbartonshire – Author attacks plans to axe mobile library and excellent leader Libraries must be given our support

Libraries contribute to economy and health

Congratulations to The Herald for supporting public libraries. As you rightly point out (“Libraries must be given our support”, Editorial, March 23), Scotland has socially inclusive traditions of public library provision dating back to the early 18th century. The world’s first national public library policy document was authored in Scotland in 1699 and Leadhills Library, founded in 1741, is where one of the world’s first lifelong learning policies – mutual improvement – was developed.

These traditions still inform us today. As well as a cultural resource, library and information services contribute both to the economy and national wellbeing. I recently evaluated an employability training programme, run by Inverclyde Libraries, that includes an important information skills element. Here the library service is contributing directly to the regeneration of a deprived community. Libraries are increasingly contributing to skills development such as this. They also help people develop the information literacy skills necessary for learning, living and work, and contribute to the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities by giving people information on which to base health and life decisions. What is more, libraries, compared to other services, are extremely cheap. This is not the place to wield the axe.

Dr John Crawford,

Former director, Scottish Information Literacy Project, and Trustee, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals,


The letter was spotted by Sean McNamara the People’s Network Librarian that we worked with at Inverclyde Libraries.

thanks a lot for the mention and your general appreciation and support for libraries. Also, Alana MacMillan, my line manager also thanks you for that and your inclusion of us in LILAC. Here is our tweet about your letter!

The reference to LILAC 2010 (The Librarians Information Literacy Annual Conference) in Limerick next week is to John’s presentation – Employability and information literacy: a review of a training programme. I’ll post a link after the presentation.

Information and critical literacy visits – Curriculum for Excellence Early and First Level

Since January I have been busy visiting primary schools and a nursery as part of the work I’m doing for Learning and Teaching Scotland CfE Literacy Team – Real and Relevant – Information and Critical Literacy Skills for the 21st Century Learner’ (Early and First Level).  

The visits have been amazing with lots of information and critical literacy activities based around some of the CfE learning outcomes and experiences.

I have written them up as postings / case studies for the National Information Literacy Framework (Scotland)

They join the visit I did in December to St Margartet’s School but this time to see Information Literacy in Junior (Primary) 1 .

I am now bringing all this together incorporating it into a CPD Toolkit / Resource Pack and will be presenting at LILAC 2010 (The Librarians Information Literacy Annual Conference) Limerick – Begin at the Beginning: Information Literacy in Primary Schools.

My thanks to the teachers and the schools, the local authority education resource services / library and information services for their assistance.

Information and Critical Literacy: Aberdeenshire – a joint development event for Network Librarians and Literacy Co-ordinators

I was up in Aberdeen speaking at the Aberdeenshire Library and Information Services (ALIS) Joint development event for Network Librarians and Literacy Co-ordinators last week. It was a great day with librarians and teachers (primary and secondary), literacy co-ordinators working in partnership together seated at mixed tables (5 or 6 people at each table) to look at, discuss and work on Information and Critical Literacy material and activities, Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes. 

The first session was by Kathryn Russell, Literacy Development Officer ‘Literacy across learning: working in partnership’. Kathryn tasked the groups / tables with the following:

Literacy across Learning: working in partnership

Literacy across Learning: working in partnership

  1. Please give an example of successful partnership working between teacher(s) and librarian(s). What factors were key to success?
  2. Barrier / constraint to effective partnership: Suggested solution
  3. Looking to the future  … how would you like to see the working relationships between teachers and librarians evelove?

There was much lively discussion with ‘what worked’ going in a box in the shape of a book and ‘what didn’t work’ going in a small wasterpaper bin.  Sue Cromar, Information Literacy Librarian, ALIS who organised the event and is writing a guide to partnership working collected all the information. The guide should be available in August / September this year.

Next up was Alison Bruce, Information Services Librarian, ALIS  – online resources for pupils and teachers. Alison demonstrated Credo Reference using a Science Experience and Outcome relating to the lungs. The retrieved resources demonstrated had pictures and texts plus source citation. The resources could also be shown as a Concept Map (Mind Map, Spider Diagram) with items linked to the references. The map could be simplified or expanded and the main topic could be changed. It was very impressive.

After tea / coffee break I did a presentation and workshop on Integrating Information and Critical Literacy across the curriculum . The workshop centered on each group / table unpacking a Curriculum for Excellence Experience and Outcome.

Librarians, teachers and Literacy Officer unpacking a CfE Experience and Outcome

Librarians, teachers and Literacy Officer unpacking a CfE Experience and Outcome

  Participants in mixed groups:

  • choose a Curriculum for Excellence Learning Experience and Outcome – Science or Health and Well Being
  • unpack it using CfE template  created by Edinburgh Science QIO and used by Holy Rood High School, Edinburgh (link to  case study and template)  – unpacking is effectively a mapping exercise which allows the opportunities within the learning outcome to be explored.
  • link to Literacy across learning experiences and outcomes  specifically ‘information and critical literacy’ activities
  • identify relevant ‘information and critical literacy’ resources.

The workshop went well and it was interesting to hear the discussions and see librarians and teachers working in partnership to unpack their chosen experience and outcome. One school librarian was keen to replicate the exercise in her school as part of an in-service day.

After lunch there was a carousel exercise were groups (different groups from the morning) started at one table to hear about information literacy activities created and or used by Aberdeenshire schools:

Joint Geography Library Webquest

Joint Geography Library Webquest

Table 1: Evaluating online resources – using Learning and Teaching Scotland’s online Information Literacy material

Table 2: Note-making and mind-mappingRISK (Research and Investigation Skills) developed at Meldrum Academy by the Netwwork Librarian and teaching staff. A CD of the programme and material was included in the event pack of information given to everyone.

 Table 3: Webquests – joint working between Geography Principle Teacher and school librarian  

Table 4: Online resources – more in depth look at Credo Reference
Read it! Write it! Reference it!

Read it! Write it! Reference it!

Table 5: Plagiarism, referencing and bibliographies – A guide to referencing for S4-S6 pupils Read it!  Write it!  Reference it! written  by a school librarian who previously worked in Colleges. Copies of the guide was included in the event pack of information given to everyone.
Also included in the event pack of information given to everyone was a copy of :
  • Aberdeenshire Library and Information Service Draft Information Literacy Strategy
  • Libraries Supporting Learning from 0 – 18  Information Guide for Parents and Teachers

The day was a great success and Sue Cromar recorded aspects of it for the Libraries R 4 Learning Project: Information Literacy Multimedia clips .


Libraries R 4 Learning Project: Information Literacy Multimedia clips

Aberdeenshire Library and Information Service started filming last week on their Libraries R 4 Learning Project: Multimedia clips. As one of those approached, travelled north last week (2nd and 3rd February 2010) to do some filming. It was an interesting process writing the scripts for the introduction sections on Information Literacy, Information Literacy in schools and Information Literacy in the workplace and then filming them. A new experience for both myself and the film crew (Sue Cromar and one of the network librarians whose name I have forgotten – my apologises to her). I now have a great respect for news readers, it is not as easy as it looks.

During my two day visit I also had a meeting with some of the Aberdeenshire Library and Information Service staff – Primary School Librarian and Early Years / Young People in Schools Librarian plus one of Aberdeenshires Literacy Development Officers (Katherine who is an English teacher on secondment). We had an interesting session where I shared information on the information literacy work I’m involved with specifically the LTS Real and Relevant – Information and Critical Literacy Skills for the 21st Century Learner’ (Early and First Level) CPD Toolkit.

Katherine was amazed to hear that Aberdeenshire Library and Information Service is not just about books, they also have objects / educational tools – religious artefacts, puppets, costumes etc that teachers can use for lessons. As a teachers she is probably not alone in thinking that libraries are just about books. She was also not aware that tours of the service have been organised for probationer teachers and that several teachers have requested visits once they heard of the resources available from the probationer teachers. I made a note to myself to remember to include Library and Information Services as a resource for teachers in the Real and Relevant  CPD Toolkit.

I also had an interesting conversation with the network librarian at Meldrum Accademy about transition initiatives (primary 7 – S1) and also about my experience todate of information literacy in the early years specifically regarding my thoughts that information literacy involves all our senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, hearing) plus our memories not just reading of text from books and or the Internet. I think we forget about the power of visual images and how this helps us learn languages, remember / recall past experiences, knowledge etc.

CILIP supports the call for statutory school libraries

CILIP supports the call for statutory school libraries

A small group of people from the Youth and School Libraries Joint Committee are putting together a Libraries for schools manifesto. The text below is the latest draft February 2010:

Every child, at every stage, is entitled to:

  • designated library staff able to encourage ‘wider reading and reading for pleasure’
  • a ‘skilled library practitioner’ to teach pupils to handle ‘information overload’, lifelong learning and employers’ demand for ‘problem-solvers and independent thinkers’
  • a safe library environment inside and outside school hours, with help, resources and advice 
  • high-quality, wide-ranging, easily accessible resources to support the curriculum, carefully selected to suit their age, learning style and ability
  • be valued as an individual, with reading materials ‘exploited by a knowledgeable person’ to support the whole person.

Every teaching team is entitled to a designated library professional who:

  • understands the curriculum and their pastoral needs
  • collaborates on curriculum planning and teaching 
  • works with other organisations within and beyond the school

Surveying software used to produce learning objects for Information Literacy

There was a posting on LIS-LINK@JISCMAIL.AC.UK by Karen Rolfe, Assistant Librarian User Services @ National Oceanographic Library summarising the information she received to a question she had posed about the technology\software\applications that people are using to support information literacy.  Which I thought might be of interest to some of you.


 Total number of responses received 10

 Questions and replies (number of responses in brackets)

  1. Do you produce your own online learning objects to support Information Literacy skills?  – Yes (10)
  2. Do you produce them just for computers or for computers and mobile phones? –  Just PCs (6), Just PCS but considering mobile phones (4), 
  3. What applications or software do you use to produce your learning objects?  Articulate (1) + (1 – another respondent would like to use this instead of the application they are using) Audacity (1) Basic HTML (2) Camtasia (2) – screen and audio capture Captivate (4) CourseGenie (2) Echo 360 (1) – record lectures eXe (1) Flash (4) – animated learning objects Glomaker (1) Hotpotatos (4) – quizzes INFORMS (4) – real time tutorials Java script (2) Moodle (2) –VLE Sproutbuilder (1) TOIA (1) – quizzes Turning Point (1) Udutu (1) Viewlet builder (2) – screen and audio capture Wimba Create (1) – mini website tutorials Wix (1) Xml (1)
  4. Why did you choose the software you are using?  – Cost / It’s Free/ Open access  (4) Staff expertise – e.g. in house developer (2) Easy to use (2) Recommended/ being used by others (3) Suitability for the task (3) Pedagogic ethos (1) Compatible with University network (2) Accessibility (1) Customisable/Flexibility (2)
  5. Are there some examples of your learning objects that we could look at available on your website? 

*      Articulate tutorials with Captivate and Informs outputs embedded

*      Information Literacy Resource Bank –<> which contains a variety of IL learning objects 


*      Some of our tutorials (many of these are a bit out of date now, so we need to update them)

*      This page should allow you to look at most of our Camtasia films


        6. Is there any information or advice that you would share with us about creating learning    objects for information literacy using your chosen software?

*      Keep text short and simple where possible, enable interactivity wherever possible, get colleagues to test afterwards.

*      Be aware of the need to maintain LOs which are up-to-date and relevant, plus the need to train or have staff  with skill set required to use software.

*      Currently we have concentrated on specific IL skills for certain subject areas where student numbers made IL teaching nearly impossible, however we are starting a project just now on developing an assessed stand alone IL tutorial based on our Little Book of Information Skills. This will again utilize Articulate instead of web pages as we prefer the interactive nature and free navigation this software offers us. The software does not require any formal IT skills, and we currently just have two people working very few hours on our output. As with most things you can spend as long or not creating your tutorials, but most people know how to use PowerPoint so can easily transfer work into a more interactive openly navigable output.

*      We feel that the key to a successful learning object is to keep it fairly bite-size, try to keep the content as generic as possible and keep branding to a minimum.  This helps to ensure its suitability to a wide range of teaching and learning scenarios.

*      Some quick and dirty advice would be to avoid creating a scroll of death, interminable pages of text students and staff simply won’t read. Contextualise any skills development.   Incorporate self assessment and possible peer review evaluation – wiki or live chat 

*      CourseGenie was very basic, which was good, because it was quick to learn how to use it, but unfortunately means it is not very sophisticated.  For example, if you wanted to put photos on, it was almost impossible to line them up to where you would like them.  There has been very little use of this learning object by the students – I think we might have had more usage if the program had been more interactive.

*      Ask your students/ users what they need first (not what they want) before doing anything and assume nothing. Make sure that any text you use is in plain English. Use a balance of textual/ visual/ animation/movie media (ASK is still too text heavy). What ever time you put aside for development multiply by 3! Keep it simple.

*      Regarding eXe: I would undertake basic training and talk to IT about it’s limitations (we wasted a lot of time trying to solve technical issues ourselves). We’ve had problems when trying to play videos on our SunRay PCs (the servers which support these PCs haven’t got the right media player application), which only became apparent when we were well into the project.

*      What we have learnt so far though, is that we don’t have enough time to spend on this at the moment and that we need some training on the software and on the pedagogical implications of what the software can do.