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Entries in Digital and Information Literacies (5)


An investigation into Scottish teenagers’ information literacy and search skills

This valuable research work was conducted in collaboration with the IL CoP, by Morgan Harvey, David Brazier and Geoff Walton and has now been published in the journal ‘Information Research’

Introduction. This paper presents the results of a study investigating the information literacy and search skills of young people in Scotland. 
Method. The participants, secondary school pupils between the ages of 13 and 14 (n=57), completed two out of four different search tasks from the TREC HARD collection, for which the correct answers (i.e. relevant documents) were known. Their interactions with the search system were logged and information about their own perceptions of the task were collected through pre- and post-task questionnaires. 
Analysis. The log data from the search system was analysed using the R statistical software package to understand the performance and behaviour of the participants when conducting the search tasks. 
Findings. While we identified some evidence that information literacy and search skills were being employed, overall performance was low with participants often unable to produce successful queries and/or unable to identify relevant documents, even when some were present in the results. Despite assessing their own performance as being good, the pupils struggled to formulate good quality queries to assess documents for relevance, frequently selecting non-relevant sources. 
Conclusion. Search performance and ability to identify relevant information was generally poor, a fact that participants themselves were frequently unable to recognise. The results also suggest a reliance on complex search assistance tools (such as spell checking and query suggestions), which are common features of major search engines, but not of smaller systems, which pupils are also likely to have to use. Despite the pupils having been giving some information literacy training in the previous year, the results suggest that more needs to be done to help school pupils in searching for and assessing relevant source documents.

Dr Morgan Harvey, Senior Lecturer and Computer Science Programme Leader, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle

Posted by Jenny Foreman, Scottish Government Library



The European Conference for Information Literacy (ECIL) is being held in Oulu, Finland this year. Monday 24th – Thursday 27th September.

Here’s the conference agenda. You’ll see there are a great variety of sessions, covering the main themes of health, education, research and libraries.

As far as I know only one of our IL CoP members, John Crawford, has made it to this remote part of Finland. A lot of very interesting tweeting happening on Twitter #ECIL2018 until we hear back from John.

@ECIL_2018 Official Twitter account of The 6th European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL). #ECIL2018 #UniOulu 

Jenny Foreman, Scottish Government Library




CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2013: Inspiration and Education - school libraries, digital and information literacies and professional development

On the 10 October I attended the  at the John McIntyre Conference Centre, Edinburgh. The themes for this year were school libraries, digital and information literacies and professional development. Audrey Sutton, CILIP in Scotland's President kicked off the day and welcomed everybody.

The first keynote speaker was Barbara Band, CILIP Vice President - Let’s shout about advocacy Barbara is a school librarian and very passionate about what she does and called upon everyone to be an advocate and shout out about libraries. That self advocacy does not come naturally to most people but we need self advocacy to support our role, services we provide and our profession. Advocacy she said 'was a bit of a scary concept for people' as it was associated with lobbying, putting yourself out there, not a comfortable position. However if you looked at alternative words for advocacy, it was closely aligned to promotion, a term / activity which people were more comfortable with. The major reasons for advocacy was to influence, to inform, to educate and to change.  People's perceptions are based on their experience, so what you do influences people's perceptions of what you and we do as a profession and the services you/we provide.

“30% of our success is due to skills and experience but 70% is due to visibility.” Steve Bowman, University of Chichester

When advocating / promoting it is important to decided who your target audience is, what your key message is, it must be pertinent and relevant and you need to speak their language. How or what you will do, will depend on your circumstances and commitment, for example:  

  1. your organisation - let people know what you are doing
  2. your sector (your tribe) - collective wisdom - participate, collaborate, disseminate with others
  3. the profession - get involved

You need to: be creative and persistent; look at how others do it; use your network. We all have a voice - so use it.

Many of the above themes were picked up by other speakers / presentations throughout the day.

I next attended the Schools Libraries: Advocacy! A group discussion facilitated by the School Libraries Advocacy Group Firstly we learnt about the advocacy being carried out by the group including:

  • focusing on Education Scotland
  • sharing of good practice / evidence of supporting learners - there is a space on the cilips website
  • SLIC has commissioned Robert Gordon University (RGU) to undertake research into the impact of school libraries. The information was gathered through Freedom of Information requests from local authorities not just in Scotland but in England as well. Some information was shared with us. Of the 21 local authorities in Scotland who responded (2 failed to respond) there is a variation of service offered across Scotland and unfortunately an overall demise of centralised library services. 12 authorities provide some provision through public library services and all but one employs a professional librarian. The English scene is still to be analysed. See for a summary of the findings, full details of the project and the RGU final report which will be available soon.

The discussion part of the session focused on specific questions regarding advocacy linked to how, what, where etc. The delegates from each table discussed the question at thier table - suggestions, comments etc. where recorded by a facilitator and the group moved on to the next time when time was up. Hopefully the recorded thoughts will be written up and made available. If I hear about it I will let you know. If you hear about it - please let me know.

The second keynote speaker of the morning was Liz McGettigan – A Force for Change - The infinite possibilities of libraries and librarians in the digital age I know and have heard Liz speak before and she is certainly a force for change and an inspirational speaker. Her presentations are always filled with powerful images and quotations. I didn't take any notes during her presentation so please have a look at it.

As this is quite a lengthy blog posting I will finish here and post another day about the afternoon sessions I attended which concentrated on professional development. There are I think some useful activities and strategies that we could use for information literacy. 


The presentations from this year's Gathering are now online and available at


CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2013: Inspiration and Education

Looking forward to CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2013: Inspiration and Education tomorrow (10th October) in Edinburgh at the John McIntyre Conference Centre The themes for this year are school libraries, digital and information literacies and professional development.


CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2013: October 10th 

Email out from the CILIP in Scotland Team to say that booking is now open for this year's CILIP Autumn Gathering at the John McIntyre Conference Centre, Edinburgh. It looks like a great programme / line up

This year is all about Education and Inspiration and the programme contains three main strands:

  • Digital and Information Literacies
  • School Libraries
  • Professional Development

The keynote speakers reflect this diversity as we have Barbara Band (CILIP Vice President), Liz McGettigan (Head of Edinburgh Libraries) and Simon Finch (Northern Grid).

Other sessions offer a choice for delegates and include a debate on e-books, a session on using social media effectively, school library best practice 'shout-outs', a case study of CPD 23, some best practice examples of information literacy projects, tips on how to deliver an elevator pitch, discussion about the new CILIP Professional Knowledge and Skills Base and school library research.

The early bird price for CILIPS members is only £55 so book now