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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.


Open University: Being digital and the Digital and information Literacy (DIL) framework 

Congratulations to the Open University this year’s Credo Digital Award winner at LILAC with their Digital and Information Literacy (DIL) framework & Being digital site. 

These two freely-available resources cover the following:

The DIL framework builds on the OU’s existing information literacy levels framework and adds communication, sharing, collaboration and creation of new information. The accompanying DIL framework facilitation cards can be used at meetings and workshops to enable discussions about the integration of these skills at different levels of study. They cover the following DIL skills areas:

  • Understand and engage in digital practices
  • Find information
  • Critically evaluate information, online interactions and online tools
  • Manage and communicate information
  • Collaborate and share digital information

 Both the framework and the facilitation cards are licensed under Creative Commons. The Information Literacy team hopes you will find these useful in your own teaching environments. The OU would welcome any feedback on how you’re using them, and examples.


The Being digital site comprises a variety of bite-size interactive learning objects on finding, using and sharing information online.  Open-source software was used to create many of the resources. They cover topics such as:

  • Presenting yourself to best advantage online and managing your digital identity
  • Making the most of online networks
  • Knowing who and what to trust online
  • Using Wikipedia
  • Evaluating and using online tools
  • Searching effectively


The aim is to help learners become confident and critical users of digital tools and resources in any situation. Each learning activity takes no longer than 10 minutes to complete and can be used very flexibly. Learners can select individual activities by browsing an A-Z list or follow a specific pathway to gain a deeper understanding of a topic.

Resources will soon be available with Creative Commons licences attached.

Thanks to Nancy Graham at the University of Birmingham for circulating the above information through LIS-INFOLITERACY@JISCMAIL


LILAC 2013 presentations now available

I didn't manage to attend LILAC this year and haven't had a chance to look at the presentations but have put it on my to do list. In the meantime here's a message from the CILIP Information Literacy Group and a link to the presentations for you in case you haven't seen it.


The CILIP Information Literacy Group are pleased to announce that the presentations from LILAC 2013 are now available.  We hope you have fun reading them. Let us know how they influence your work.