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Research and writing workshop

Today I’ve been chairing a workshop at CILIP on undertaking research, writing proposals and getting published. It was a joint event being run by the Information Literacy group and Library and Information Research Group. I got involved in my capacity as Editor of the Journal of Information Literacy. I was looking forward to the day and have always believed that undertaking research is a really important part of a practitioner. In fact I am in the process of writing a research strategy for our team which should be available on our website fairly soon.

The strategy is an attempt to provide a rationale and a strategic direction for the research that we have done for many years and it sets out the key areas of research interest. Up until this point our research has been driven by funding opportunities from organisations such as JISC and the HEA and from personal interests. However it’s helpful to have this work recognised more formally and to have an explicit strategy. Writing the document also helped me see how the various areas where we have undertaken research fit together. I’ve undertaken research on open education, on digital and information literacies and on the impact of new technologies on learning and teaching at our own institution and more widely. However the strategy should provide more focus for the activities.


Library Instruction West – part two

reflections in lake patriciaI headed off for a few weeks to visit the Canadian Rockies in search of bears, (four spotted) elk, (20 plus spotted) lakes and mountains (too many to count but Lake Louise and Lake Maligne up in Jasper were highlights). It was also a good chance to spend time thinking and reflecting on what I had learnt at the conference I attended from 23-25th July in Portland, Oregon, Library Instruction West. I’m grateful to the CILIP Information Literacy CO-PILOT committee and LSE for supporting me to attend a great conference.

Working in the newly renamed team, Learning Technology and Innovation, I was on the look out for new ideas and innovations. We have this sense in the UK that exciting things are happening in North American universities that we need to be aware of in the UK. I certainly came back with a sense that things are different, I’m just still trying to pin down exactly how! So here’s my attempt and in my first blog post written during the conference I was struck by the differences in terminology we use. I think in terms of people’s job titles it is worth thinking about this a bit more. I met instruction and outreach or information literacy librarians (not subject librarians or academic support) I also met instructional designers (what LSE would call educational developers) and I heard talk of educational technologists but from what I heard many did not seem to be working alongside the library folk as often as in case in the UK. Those differences suggest academic support services are set up slightly differently in US and Canadian universities. However, people did talk about the same issues such as how to engage faculty, how to embed digital and information literacy effectively into the curriculum, how to be innovative in their teaching and use technology appropriately.


Library Instruction West – Portlandia!

I’m spending this week in Portland, Oregon for the Library Instruction West conference, but the city is famous for craft beer, great food and the series, Portlandia which suggests it’s a little alternative! A few years ago Nigel Morgan told me about this great conference that was formerly known as LOEX of the West. I learnt today that LOEX meant Library Orientation EXchange which was where librarians came to share ideas before the internet. So the fact I was talking about sharing IL resources globally as part of the COPilot project and COPILOT committee was highly relevant. I made my slides available on Slideshare and also have been promoting the work of the UK Information Literacy group, not least our Journal and the LILAC conference.

Oregon Historical Society Museum

Oregon Historical Society Museum

Today I’ve also learned that many of the challenges that academic librarians face in the UK are very similar over the Atlantic! I’ve also learnt that we use some very different terminology and not just words like elevator / lift or cookie / biscuit but the whole vocabulary around education is quite different! But somehow I think we have shared ideas about information literacy and I’ve come away feeling like librarians around the world have a lot more in common than what divides us. It was also great to hear Alison Head from Project Information Literacy speak again – she was the keynote at LILAC 2014 in Sheffield and did a fantastic keynote on the research habits of recent graduates.

Last night’s meal on the Portland Spirit was a real treat and we got to sample Oregon wine and beer! No dancing but it was a lot of fun! Cheers folks and thanks to everyone making me feel so welcome. I am looking forward to day 2 and hearing William Badke speak this morning as well as many other US librarians who’s work I have read before!

Reflecting on Students as Partners

StudentsSeveral conferences I’ve attended in the last few weeks have had the theme of students as partners and as the SADL (Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy) project ends it’s first year I think it’s timely to reflect on what we’ve learnt, what worked and what we could do differently.

First what worked?
Recruitment went well and our project managed to grab the interest of students and in many cases keep them interested for the year. However we do really need to understand why a few students didn’t engage with us and why they just attended one or two sessions. Did it not meet their expectations? Were they too busy? Was it not relevant? Our end of project survey has some useful data here. Last week at our first NetworkEDGE seminar, Stephen Downes urged us to not just talk to the successful students but those who drop out.


Six Conferences in a month: a new record!

I think this might be a new record even for me. I’m only in work for part of July, but I have clocked up 6 conferences presentations in a month. I’ve got just one left, which will be next week at the Library Instruction West Conference in Portland, Oregon. However, so far in the past month I have presented at:

  • CILIP ARLG conference at the end of  June (I did two presentations on one day, on the SADL project and on the RIDLS Information Literacy evaluation criteria)
  • The Higher Education Academy Conference at Aston University (I did a talk about the SADL project, with my colleague Arun, and a workshop with Vivien Sieber on sharing information and digital literacy resources as OERs)
  • The Academic Practices and Technology Conference in Greenwich (where Arun and I spoke about SADL once again)
  • The Publishers Licensing Society annual meeting at the Royal Society of Chemistry where I spoke about the needs of higher education and the role of collective licensing.
  • The Business Librarians Association conference where I gave a keynote about ANCIL. I’ve just made my slides available from this talk and really enjoyed the short time I was there. Not being a Business Librarians I hadn’t actually been to the conference before and they seemed to be having a lot of fun (and working very hard of course).

I was wondering why I felt a little tired, and hadn’t had much time to blog. So now I know! I am looking forward to a hard earned break for a few weeks, with just one conference presentation to ensure I don’t forget ALL about work!



LILAC 2014: reflections and thoughts

LILAC Conference

LILAC Conference Buzz

It’s been several weeks since the LILAC Conference and I’ve got several pages of notes but yet to write a blog post. It’s been a busy time and I ended up with a nasty cold for several weeks after the conference, but it’s still no excuse. I’ve written a short post about the IL Award I received on the night of the conference dinner, but I must share some thoughts from the actual conference.

Highlights for me were definitely the keynotes (I unfortunately missed the third one) but both Alison Head from Project Information Literacy and Bill Thompson from the BBC were fantastic. Project Information Literacy has collected so much fascinating data on students across the United States and I was intrigued to hear that Harvard students were MORE likely to use Wikipedia that other students. The issues that students struggle with are so familiar though from whatever university they are studying. Alison is a really engaging speaker and I look forward to hearing her again later this year at the Library Instruction of the West Conference. Bill Thompson meanwhile urged us all to develop a better understanding of how technology works. If you don’t understand how the App Store works and what’s behind it you are dis-empowered. However, scare mongering won’t work either and he is not the first person to recommend I read danah boyd’s ‘It’s Complicated’ He feels we need an understanding of technology to be in popular culture, in soaps etc and while we don’t all need to be a programmer, we need to understand how code shapes our world.

Sheffield was also a really fabulous location for the conference with the venue, hotel and evening events all really close by and all impressive. So well done to Sheffield Hallam staff and to the LILAC Committee – I know how hard they work! It was also great to celebrate 10 years of LILAC and if you haven’t seen the 10 year anniversary video I urge you to check it out on You Tube. I’m also hoping that the video from Paul Zurkowski, who coined the phrase ‘information literacy’ 40 years ago will shortly go on the LILAC website too.


Breakthrough in copyright law reform confirmed

Guest blog by Naomi Korn, Chair of the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance and Benjamin White, Head of Intellectual Property at the British Library

20 years of hard work by our sector has resulted, at last, in the recognition that copyright laws are out of kilter with the digital age and many of the activities taking place across our libraries, archives, museums and educational establishments, need to be supported by fit for purpose exceptions which create legal certainty and achieve a better balance between creators rights and user needs. By doing this they therefore make copyright itself stronger.

Westminster approval (more…)

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