1. Log in

2. Click on the Community Blog page

3. Click on your name on the top right of the screen

4. Click on Subscribe to Page Updates to receive email notifications of new blog posts



Entries by John Crawford (37)


ECIL Conference, Tallinn, 19-22 October 2015

I enclose a short report on the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL) which took place in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, from Monday 19th October to Thursday 22nd October. This was the third ECIL conference, the previous two having been held in Istanbul and Dubrovnik. It is an unrivalled opportunity to meet IL leaders from all over the world. For example, I had a long talk with Paul Zurkowski at Istanbul who praised our work in Scotland.  The C of P was represented by Bill Johnston, Lauren Smith and me.

On the Tuesday morning I presented a panel session with Bill and Lauren on the situation in Scotland. I gave an overview of the current situation describing our successful conference in February but also reviewing problems such as resourcing. Bill spoke about his work with the  Scottish Older People’s Association and the information literacy implications. Lauren finished with an interim report on her Information Literacy Group funded project on the role of school libraries in encouraging political participation among young people. Our presentations were followed by a lively discussion which included impartiality in giving advice.  After our presentations I was approached by two people:

  •  Laura Ballestra from the Responsabile servizi al pubblico Biblioteca e Cared who asked if she could do an online interview with me
  • Professor Loriene of the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also a former president of the American Library Association. She runs a Spring Graduate class - approximately January to April - 'Library instruction and information literacy' and is offering to support our work, something to discuss at the next C of P. She knows a lot of people and is a valuable contact.      

On the Wednesday morning I chaired a session on the theme: Information literacy: Government and Society which included two speakers on Scotland,  Bill again with Sheila  Webber talking about IL and the Scottish Referendum and Kristine Stewart, currently based in Dubai, who spoke about the  evaluation of sources in the immigration debate during the independence referendum. Overall the Scottish contribution had a strong theme on the role of IL in political decision making and the civic agenda.

On the Wednesday afternoon I attended a presentation by Jane Secker, chair of ILG and Geoff Walton an ILG committee member, on UK Information literacy Advocacy  which was on the theme of taking IL beyond higher education and addressing IL needs in other sectors. This included working with other profession and groups outside LIS. This is something which we are already developing as our February conference showed. SLIC’s excellent contacts are a big help to us and there seems to be no equivalent in England.  I had a word with Geoff at the conference dinner in the evening and pointed out that we are already doing some of the things he was suggesting and I suggested that the C of P and ILG should work together to develop the non HE agenda. Geoff was supportive of the idea but we need to discuss how to implement it.

There were, I believe, over 160 presentations and I have confined myself to reporting on points from which action points should be derived. Further information can be found at  Overall I feel that Scotland made a good contribution to the conference especially in respect of the civic agenda.

I had some doubts initially about the conference venue especially in the third week of October but the weather was pretty good overall.  Estonia is a fascinating country and it is a sobering thought that the past twenty five years is the longest period of independence this small state has ever known.


John Crawford



Trip to Liverpool

I travelled to Liverpool last week to attend the Members Day and AGM of the Library and Information Research Group (LIRG) on the 1st July and the CILIP conference where I was a speaker on the Friday.  The core of the LIRG event was three presentations:  Jess Elmore speaking about information literacy and home education which she noted had parallels with workplace IL activity; Miggie Pickton, discussing her work in promoting research in the University of Northampton Library which will be the envy of many practitioner researchers and Emily Wheeler who gave an insightful presentation on how academic librarians view their teaching activities, a study which I think could be further developed.  The implication seems to be that departments of information studies should be providing training in teaching methods.

On Friday 3rd July I attended the CILIP conference. There were several keynote presentations but the one I found most interesting was the speaker from Full Fact, the UK’s independent fact checking organisation which, among other things, verifies claims and statements made by political parties. He mentioned an organisation called Information Norway which provides the Norwegian public at elections with information to help them decide on which party to vote for.  There might be lessons for Scotland here. The discussion of the role of information in civic engagement and political decision making was very welcome to me as it echoed some of the points I made in my presentation in the afternoon which was entitled: ‘ An information literacy policy for a small state?’. This described the work of the Community of Practice and its activities including its contributions to the Spreading the benefits of digital participation report and the successful February conference which greatly extended the scope of information literacy. I reviewed possible action points arising from the conference and reported on our meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Culture. This was followed by some discussion about IL in the workplace and the problems of promoting IL in other countries. It was a very hot, sticky afternoon and the audience did well to stay awake, let alone pay attention.  

The organisation of the conference was very good and Jason Russell and his CILIP colleagues did a great job   in making sure things ran smoothly.


John Crawford 


Digital Scotland Participation Advisory Group June 2015


On Thursday 4th June 2015,  Bill Johnston, Honorary Research Fellow, Strathclyde University,  Sheila MacNeill, a senior lecturer in Blended Learning at Glasgow Caledonian University, Jenny Foreman, the Community of Practice chair and head of the Scottish Government Library and I attended a meeting of the Digital Scotland Participation Advisory Group at the Scottish Parliament. The Group advises the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Fiona Hyslop. Some of its members come from a digital/IT background while others, like the John Wheatley Housing Trust have a wider agenda. We had been invited to speak about digital and information literacy partly as a result of contacts the Community of Practice has been cultivating with the minister’s civil servants and partly as an outcome of the successful February conference on information literacy.

We were the last item on the agenda which included some interesting topics.  There was a report from the John Wheatley Housing Trust about the Kirkton Avenue Project which provides Internet access to 138 families in Glasgow. The study investigated the use made of the Internet and found, inter alia, that all of the families used the Internet for information searching. Sally Dyson from SCVO spoke about the Projects SCVO is supporting to benefit the digitally disadvantaged and explained that the number of applications they had received greatly exceeded the funds available to support them.  These activities are important because these are the kind of people we need to work with to support the IL agenda.

When our turn came Bill gave a general introduction to the subject of information literacy, relating it to some of the things previous speakers had said including young and older people’s engagement with information literacy. This was followed by Sheila MacNeill who spoke about the role of information in promoting digital literacy in higher education and her concept of the digital university. Digital participation and the role of universities is more than the digital university per se.

 Professor Michael Fourman had some good points to make about the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and the lack of specific reference to IL in it. This certainly resonated with me, as when Christine Irving and I were operating the Scottish Information Literacy Project, we had meetings with the (CfE) Literacy Team and pressed the case for the inclusion of IL. I commented on the civic engagement agenda and used the Referendum as an example of the use of information by the wider population to facilitate informed political decision making. This seemed to go down well with the minister and she seemed to acknowledge the importance of information literacy in a variety of contexts and it will now fall to us to now carry the agenda forward with civil servants and some of the people we met at the Group and we need to expand the scope of the Community of Practice to involve digital participation people in the work of the Community of Practice. We did try to make the point that it is necessary to move the agenda on from digital skills development to promoting the information literacy skills which will be needed when digital skills have been acquired. The meeting was, I think, a success as meeting a Government minister and making the case for IL is a first for the C of P, and, as far as I am aware, not something achieved elsewhere in the UK. The meeting was an opportunity to bring information literacy to the digital agenda in the presence of the minister and she showed a very positive engagement with all the items at the meeting including IL.  It was also an opportunity to engage with other players in the digital participation agenda


Possible action points arising from the meeting envisaged include:

  • The Scottish Government should support a further conference in 2016 and the minister should be asked to be the main speaker
  • An opportunity to build links and take discussions forward
  • A joint C  of P and SCVO working party should be set up to take forward the IL agenda
  • A C of P working party should be set up to evaluate available IL learning materials
  • Inviting a representative from SCVO to join the  C of P meetings
  • Inviting a representative from the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust to join the C of P meetings


John Crawford, founder chair of the Community of Practice with the assistance of Bill Johnston, Sheila MacNeill and Jenny Foreman.  



The Welsh Information Literacy Project comes to an end

I attended the last meeting of the Welsh Information Literacy Project in Wrexham last Thursday, 26th March. The Project is coming to an end after five years of productive work. During this time it has been funded by Cymal, the Welsh agency supporting libraries and museums. Thanks to Cymal funding, it has been one of most successful projects of its kind in the British Isles and was partly inspired by the Scottish Information Literacy Project. The project has undertaken some similar work to the Scottish Information Literacy Project such as its Framework but has also developed IL training units produced by Agored Cymry which have been widely used and perhaps we could use them in Scotland.

The keynote speaker was Nancy Graham, the outgoing chair of the CILIP Information Literacy Group, who spoke about the work of the Group and mentioned among other things the research bursaries which ILG offers. Lauren Smith has recently obtained one of these to research the relationship between school libraries and citizenship issues among young people and they are a valuable source of funding to those who do not have access to academic funding.

Andrew Eynon reviewed the work of the project which included school transitions, IL skills development in the workplace including IL training for council staff, IL training for jobseekers, the Information Literacy Handbook and the placing of IL champions in all library sectors.

Anne Lewis from Agored Cymry spoke about the IL training units which cover Levels 1-3. 164 learners have achieved 4,900 hours of learning. Level 2 has been the preferred option. The units include learning outcomes and assessment criteria.

Most of the rest of the day was taken up with case studies and notable how widely the Agored Cymry units have been used. These included IL training for jobseekers in Monmouthshire who received 1-2 hours training a week and a community run library near Port Talbot where the volunteers receive IL training. Wendy Jefferson, a youth worker from Denbighshire explained how she had used the Agored Cymry units to make young learners better prepared for other forms of learning.

Other speakers spoke about essential skills training for learners with life issues, employability skills training for Council staff and working with groups such as Womens’ Aid refuges and youth services.

The day concluded with a discussion about carrying on the work after the conclusion of the Project which included issues of funding and meeting organisation which are familiar in Scotland. As with Scotland the solution seems to be communities of practice but it is likely that there will be several for different library sectors. The Agored Cymry Units will continue to be supported.

John Crawford


IL Symposium 2015 outcomes & ways forward plans

Following the successful conference of 13th February, Bill Johnston, Ian McCracken, Sean McNamara and I had a meeting with Amina Shah, the CEO of SLIC, on March 9th to discuss the conference outcomes and plan ways forward.  Bill, Ian and I were delighted with the strong support of SLIC for IL and the organising work done by SLIC staff. We were also pleased by the excellent conference facilities provided by the Scottish Government. We hope it will be possible for SLIC to support a similar event in the future.

We hope to pursue further initiatives with SCVO, relevant Scottish Government civil servants and the Cross Party Group on Digital Participation and we are currently making appropriate contacts.  

The questionnaire sent out after the conference produced useful feedback which will inform our plans.

The conference outcomes are likely to generate a good deal of work for the CoP as we have to map out potential strategic links and a plan for IL partnerships.  The contacts made at the conference should help here. We also need to draft an IL statement to influence decision makers at SG level. Other areas to look at are needed research activities and funding opportunities.


John Crawford