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Entries by Ruth Gould (6)


Safer Internet Day Booklet

This is a piece of work that I was involved in earlier this year. Europe Direct Aberdeen held workshops with a Kirkhill Primary School on Safer Internet Day in February. These workshops informed the creation of the following booklet that is aimed at children, parents and those who work with children and young people. The booklet offers tips on how you can stay safe on the internet from privacy settings to recognising scams. The online version can be viewed through the following link:


Information Sources for the European Union

I have recently changed job within Aberdeen City Libraries and now work for Europe Direct Information Centre - Aberdeen. My focus is now on providing an information service about the European Union that is relevant to the local population. We are one of three Europe Direct's in Scotland and we have a network which spans the rest of the EU.

As part of my role I am going to be running some classes on how to find out about information on the EU and the best resources to use. The classes are aimed at an adult audience and will be run in a community library. I am currently working on developing a class "Travelling in the EU"  which includes how to find reliable information about EU countries and what you can do there, how to apply for an EHIC card and where to find information about your passenger and consumer rights. I want the class to be as interactive as possible and am struggling to think of an interesting challenge based around consumer and passenger rights which has the participants looking and searching the relevant sources previously highlighted to them. Anyone have any bright ideas? 

Once delivered I hope to be able to share the slides with everyone. 


Response to the RSE Enquiry into Digital Participation

I have read the responses already posted below and realise my response is very similar but here is my reponse anyway:

1. What do you think are the current benefits of digital participation and using the internet? 

There are many benefits of digital participation and to using the internet and these are well documented. As more and more services go online it is clear that if you are not participating digitally you will be isolated and your opportunities will be limited. Benefits include:

  • Monetary benefits – you can shop around to get the best price online which is often cheaper than the high street due to lower overheads for online companies.
  • Social benefits – through social media people can keep in touch with family and friends. This can be a lifeline and improve of quality of life for people especially those who are housebound.
  • Educational benefits – a wide range of access to educational materials and information.

Having said this to be able to effectively participate people need to have knowledge of the pitfalls of which there are many and that is where the role of the library can be key to individuals. As we as a profession we have skills and knowledge to share with others to ensure they are able to:

  • Identify and verify if what they are reading is trustworthy
  • Search in an efficient way
  • To use the internet safely when shopping etc.
  • Use social media in a way that will not endanger their prospects of employment etc i.e. understand the consequences of what they publish openly online. 

2.What are the potential benefits?

If used well it can lead to better decision making especially in a work setting. If society is to benefit fully from digital participation though individuals must not only be able to access information they must also be able to find and select the right information. Information literacy is essential for this otherwise people could easily believe ungrounded information and make poorly informed decisions based upon it. The more informed people’s decisions are the more efficient and effective our workplaces will be and this will inevitably have a positive effect on the economy as a whole. 

3 How can these benefits be maximized?

Benefits can be maximized through systematic teaching of information literacy skills throughout life. We do everyone in society a huge disservice if we do not equip individuals with the skills to know how to find, evaluate, use and communicate information in an ethical manner. We can start imparting these skills to nursery skill children and carry this training on right through to pensioners. Through schooling and education, the workplace and life long learning. There are extensive examples of the good work of libraries in this field along with the benefits these can be viewed in the Scottish Information Literacy Framework and also on the Scottish Information Literacy Community of Practice blog both available at

4. How can the benefits be promoted?          

Benefits are already being promoted in libraries across Scotland in various sectors. There is super work going on in Aberdeen Public Libraries for example with their Go On Classes. A more co-ordinated approach is required though to raise the profile on a national level. I believe that unless teachers become fully information literate our young people are not going to be information literate and therefore our future workforce is at a disadvantage. Information literacy needs to be at the centre of all education and our professionals need to be equipped to impart those skills to others. Those working in government research are very much in need of information literacy skills to do their job. If the right information is not available for policy making huge errors will be made. It is important that the skills are promoted and taught in a way that people can see the benefits to all aspects of their lives so that they will apply it to everything they do including what they do online. 

5. How could Scotland benefit from wider digital participation and use of the internet?                     

Ultimately it would improve employment rates I believe and also increase equality and help to close the gap between the richer and poorer. However information literacy is key to wider digital participation, as I believe you cannot benefit from one without the other. It is all key to life long learning and can enhance everyone’s life and every aspect of that life not just academic or work life. 

6. What risks do you associate to digital participation?

If digital participation is just about the mechanics of using a computer, mobile phone etc and not about the wider issues of safety and being responsible online, we are doing people an injustice and exposing them to dangers such as identity theft etc. You only need to look at the recent case of Paris Brown who was forced to step down from her position as Britain’s first youth police and crime commissioner because of comments she made on twitter to understand the dangers of being unaware of the consequences of what you publish on the internet. Also they need to be aware of how to avoid falling foul of viewing illegal material too as this can truly ruin lives. People need to be information savvy and literate in order to safely and successfully digitally participate. In this digital age it is as important as being able to read and write.

7. How can such risks be addressed? 

 Risks can be addressed by comprehensive education in internet safety awareness at school. Librarians are well placed along with teachers to deliver this training. This training should start in Primary 1. It is often too late by the time children reach secondary school considering there are children who have mobile phones with unrestricted internet access while they are still in primary school. The news is littered with stories about young people falling into various digital traps. Aside from this there should be a national approach linked to skills and employability to ensure we do not miss those who have already been through the education system. I believe there should be different levels as well as the needs of one individual will be very different to those of another. There are some very good examples of this in Scotland that could be used to build a national training.

8. What prevents you from using digital technologies and the internet?  

A lack of knowledge of some packages prevents me from using them especially advanced IT technologies. I would like to be able to create QR codes for work purposes for example but do not have the skills currently.

9. What could be done to increase your use of digital technologies and the internet?

More training opportunities

10. What incentives could be used to increase digital participation?

I’m not sure but as one of the barriers can be poverty it is important to ensure that there are enough free internet access points for all, with the technology there to access it. There should also be provision for maintaining these access points and ensuring that facilities are up to date. People also need to know that help is there to keep them safe while using technology along with aid to give them the skills to enhance their lives through digital participation. Support mechanisms need to be in place to support individuals as it takes a lot of confidence to take that first step towards digital participation. There are those who are digitally disadvantaged who have a fear of learning due to negative experiences in their past. The benefits need to be explicitly advertised to everyone so that they begin to see the many advantages for them as an individual.



Mistakes multiplying over the internet 

It is quite worrying that a poem written in 1981 has been attributed to William Blake and has found its way onto school reading lists. This is a prime example of why information literacy is so important. Well done to Mr Pitchard, a school librarian in England for spotting it. Here's the full news article: 



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.