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European Conference on Information Literacy 

Dear all, 

I enclose the list of Invited Speaker for the European Conference on Information Literacy in Istanbul in October.,84,invited_talks. European Conference is a bit of a misnomer as it is a worldwide event. There are two speakers from our CofP, Bill and me. Not a bad level of representation, I thought.



Gin and tonic: making Boolean fun

I have been catching up on my reading and came across this short piece in the March CILIP Update by Emily Houghton. In the piece she describes how she came across an example of how a librarian taught his university students about Boolean operators using the folowing approach

Gin and whiskey bottles were acquired and filled with plain or coloured water. A bottle of tonic water and several glasses were also brought in.

We always start any presentations concerning a tool that requires Boolean searching, explaining and, or and not. We now begin this discussion with explaining how bartenders use Boolean logic every day to fill their customers' mixed drink orders.

Using this inspiration Emily created a poster taking inspiration from this asking for a drink approach

  • Gin AND Tonic
  • Gin OR Tonic
  • Gin NOT Tonic
  • Tonic NOT Gin

This has led Emily to think about other combinations such as using chocolate e.g chocolate AND milk AND nut NOT fruit.

As the article says

You will have much more success when you are teaching students how to improve their internet search results using Boolean operators if you use some tasty, memorable examples from everyday life.

I can see this being used across the sectors not just with university students. I certainly know lots of people who could relate to the  chocolate and the asking for a drinks approach.

A former colleague, a school librarian from a school in Stirling used to use William Wallace as her Boolean examples as the Wallace munument was on their door step.

My thanks to Emily for highlighting this. If you are going to Umbrella look out for Emily.

N.B. They must be using Irish whiskey bottles and not Scotch whisky in the quoted example.


Researcher infoliteracy - beyond the "how to do it" training

Just in case you have missed it. There has been an interesting discussion going on in LIS-INFOLITERACY on Researcher Infoliteracy - beyond the "how to do it" training. I particualry liked Emma Coonan's contribution. Whilst Emma works with university students I think what she says is relevant to all IL training regardless of the sector. See what you think.

She also highlights a jigsaw graphic that she has come across that is related to information literacy landscape which I liked. I'm a fan of information literacy landscape having working in different landscapes / environments e.g. different professions, in different posts and at diferent career stages, different employers and using different levels of IL skills and competencies related to the landscape / environment and my own competencies at that time. Moira Bent talks about information literacy landscapes. The jigsaw also reminds me of a reference to information literacy being multifaceted like a Rubric cube where Susie Andretta was talking about a wide range of IL articles in an edition of JIL (Journal of Information Literacy) from different sectors with different view points.

"I've been aiming for some years now to realign my research skills sessions from the procedural "how to" towards the reflective "why", and the most useful insight I've gained is: think process, not product (or if you prefer: research, not resource). Rather than offering sessions on individual resources, my courses are called "How to do a literature search", "How to decode your reading list", "Referencing without tears" and similar. They are designed to support various aspects and phases of doing study and research, and as such they naturally introduce useful sources and tools for each process. However, they also aim to spark discussion of choices and values. Why might this particular resource be a useful one for you? Concomitantly, what are its limitations for what you're working on?

This approach means that I always offer options - a range of resources to support a particular phase in the process, never just one. As a result, it's up to the individual student or researcher to identify what each resource has to offer and make an informed choice according to their own needs, which are determined by the context in which they're working at the time. This hands the agency and the responsibility back to the student. It recognises that every information context is different, and that the person who is the 'expert' in that context is the individual student/researcher - not the librarian. It means that I can
suggest tools and resources, but not mandate their use. It means I don't frame Google (/Scholar) as some kind of competition, but as an information source which like all information sources has drawbacks and limitations. It's grounded in a belief that I'm not here to give people answers, but to support them in framing questions.
I think relinquishing our status as 'experts' who have the answers and tell students 'how to' is vital if we want to move towards becoming partners in the research process, and instead invite them to consider 'why'. That relinquishment of expert status is a difficult move to make as it seems to undermine our most cherished identity as librarians, but I do believe that for a host of reasons - most important of which is supporting research excellence - it's an attitudinal change we must make.

To come back to practicalities : ) I use this jigsaw graphic ( with postgraduate students as a way of showing where information-handling behaviours and values fit withing learning journey. It's handy because it illustrates recognisable aspects of the research process alongside some less familiar ones, which may be threshold concepts in themselves, and it helps me situate what I talk about in a way that makes it more relevant to what they're doing as researchers." Emma Coonan


Free Webinar this Friday 19th of April

I have just discovered that this free webinar is going to be held this Friday at 6pm (UK time). It looks like it could be very interesting.  

Friday, April 19
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (Eastern)
Teaching the Tough Stuff: Exploring the Librarian’s Most Difficult Instructional Challenges (Lyrasis){8D30C251-395D-4CE9-8AAD-04E9F6F860B5}&RowId=1-O95B6
No matter what we call it—BI, programming, information literacy/fluency, user education—the instructional role of the librarian is challenging, but rewarding. Many of us approach instruction with little to no formal training in “how to teach.” We work hard in order to figure it out, we consult our colleagues and friends to discover “what works?” –yet several concepts–the mechanics of searching, plagiarism, scholarly discourse– remain consistently elusive, and are therefore regularly addressed in professional forums… While these topics are frequently discussed, they are still challenging to solve. Through our reasoned and polite debate, we will discover great ideas to implement in the classroom, and identify deeper issues to discuss—such as developing a personal pedagogy, the role of teaching partners like faculty, teachers, volunteers and others, and the best tools and resources available to guide us as we work to become better teachers.


Innovation, Inspiration and Creativity Conference - call for papers

New conference next year that might be of interest to the community.

Innovation, Inspiration and Creativity Conference (i2c2): Using Positive Disruption to improve libraries

The aim is to bring together librarians, learning developers, and learning technologists next year for a two day conference. Inspiring each other to innovate and be more creative in libraries. There will be talks, workshops, fun and games galore. Talking to each other about successes and challenges, thinking about how we can use what we learn from one another to improve libraries.

The call for papers is open until 25th October 2013 and they’re looking for a limited number of talks, workshops and creative interventions that fit within the conference themes.

The overarching themes are those of innovation and creativity in information work, split into three strands: Space; People; Resources.