Joining up the dots: copyright and digital literacy

Globe in Austrian National LibraryLast week was a particularly hectic week for me and during the course of attending two events, I once again decided that my job title really does reflect what I do everyday. I often find I meet people who do half my job, I don’t mean they do half as much work as me, but they are a digital literacy advisor, or a copyright advisor and they might do something else as part of their role as well. However, I still find that people don’t seem to have made the link between those two things. But it has always made perfect sense to me, which was why I wrote a blog post for CILIP about it last year, and keep banging on about it to anyone who will listen.

On Tuesday I attended a Copyright Education Symposium, organised by the Intellectual Property Office and CREATe and various rightsholder / representatives from the creative industries, such as PRS, who have a vested (economic) interest in teaching the wider public to respect copyright. I’m going to write a longer blog post on this event on the UK Copyright Literacy website. However, this event brought together a range of people who have probably rarely been in the same room at the same time and who probably have some quite different motivations for being interested in copyright education. The message I wanted to get across was that if the IPO were serious about copyright education then they needed to reframe it as part of digital literacy / digital capabilities, as not only has there been some concerted efforts from Jisc, the QAA and from government in this, it is really the only way it will make sense to people. If you are learning to be creative and innovative, you will need to use other people’s ideas, so an understanding of copyright, like other ethical issues, such as plagiarism has always been part of what librarians try to teach others. Copyright education taught in isolation that focuses on trying to convince people copyright infringement is bad, is probably not going to be very effective in my view. However, copyright education is far more likely to be adopted by teachers if it’s framed in this wider context, and there are a lot of opportunities to enlist librarians in helping in this approach.

On Wednesday and Thursday I was at the UCISA Spotlight event on Digital Capabilities. The first event last year focused on students’ digital literacies and this event focused on staff. The group are largely IT Trainers and learning technologists and as someone who has run a digital literacy programme for staff for 10 years or so, I was invited to speak on ‘Developing digital scholarship and information literate staff.‘ I reflected on how our programme at LSE was taught collaboratively with librarians and learning technologists and how much of the digital literacies were in fact information literacy. it was great to be part of a panel in the afternoon of the second day. Speakers on the day included James Clay, Helen Beetham, David Walker, Ellie Russell, Sarah Knight, Sue Watling, Fiona Handley among others. Terms like digital literacy really do have the potential to bring together professionals from all parts of a university. However I was struck that we do often stay in our silos. I infiltrated my slides with only a passing reference to copyright, in a reversal of Tuesday’s event, however I was struck by how many people then seemed to echo my point that knowledge of copyright and what you can share was a key part of digital capabilities. Helen Beetham was a pains to point out her image of Gandalf on her slides was licensed under Creative Commons. She also made the incredibly important point, that getting it wrong in an online space can expose us and damage our reputation. James Clay made similar points on the first day, and he’s spoken to me several times about wanting to make a ‘copyright lens’ for the digital capabilities framework.

However, for someone who has been championing information literacy for more years than I care to remember, I do find ‘digital literacies’ has something of the ’emperor’s new clothes’. Yes digital is important, and has acted as a catalyst, but I think we could do much to focus on the other literacies we want staff and students to develop, much of which, in my view are about how they find, use, manage and create knowledge and information. I’ve just made a video for the CILIP Information Literacy Group’s ‘Why Infolit’ campaign. So I will end with that – yes digital matters, but it’s how we interact with information that really matters, and librarians have a lot they can offer in this field.

On why there is never enough time

Time by Old Rollei

Time by Old Rollei licensed under CC-BY and available at:

I’m always finding myself running between meetings, switching between projects and tasks, wearing different hats (metaphorically not really – although I do have two hats I like quite a lot!) and wondering why there are never enough hours in the day. I kid myself I can multi-task, but it’s not true (no one can), if I try doing too many things at once I just do them all far less well. So I find myself working on tasks for short bursts of time and then moving on to something else, before switching to something new. Lisa Jeskins told me about the pomodoro technique and I think without knowing it, this was what I had been doing. Apparently it’s good for mental agility, which must be a good thing.

Last week, talking to a colleague she said ‘you like to be busy, it’s how you get so much done.’ And I was struck by this and decided it was probably true. No sooner do I tick one thing off my Wunderlist app, then I’ve added another, or four more tasks. I guess the key to getting things done (yes I have read the David Allen book) for me is good planning and trying not to let too many deadline collide. But sometimes having a lot to do makes me more efficient, whereas a day with no meetings can drag by and be wasted if I am not careful. Some of the things I’ve been working on this week include:

  • Hosting a placement student from UCL who is spending time in LTI and the Library
  • Finishing my guide to copyright for PhD students with our Repository Manager, Dimity
  • Planning the evaluation for this year’s SADL programme and briefing my new research assistant
  • Planning the next London Digital Student Meet-up with Moira Wright from UCL
  • Planning the first conference for LSE POWER – the women’s professional network with a fantastic bunch of colleague
  • Planning a series of workshops for LSE’s Learning and Development Group on sharing good practice in planning, designing, delivering and evaluating training
  • Finishing a co-authored chapter on copyright literacy to be published next year by Routledge
  • Proof reading Copyright and E-learning, my forthcoming book
  • Writing a piece for the Statistics Department website on why their students inspired me through the SADL programme.

On top of this I’ve got plenty going on with ILG work (we’ve just finished judging this year’s Research and Information Literacy award), I’m preparing for a CLA licence negotiation meeting next week and starting to think about my talk on 10 years of digital literacy at the UCISA digital capabilities event next month. But will I slow down? Never! When there are projects to plan, papers to write, conferences to attend and a world of copyright and digital literacy to enjoy! There never will be enough time, but that is what makes my job such fun! That and working with some  great people who keep me motivated!

Lessons from LILAC 16


LILAC experiences – higher or lower than you expected?

I’m giving a webinar with Lisa Jeskins next week and we have been asked to reflect on LILAC 2016 and the lessons learnt. It’s been useful to read some of the blog posts and tweets again and try to recapture the hectic 3 days. LILAC for me is like all my Christmas’s come at once and I want it to last forever, but of course it doesn’t, it passes in the blink of the eye. So it’s what is left behind after the dust settles, the exhaustion is over and the buzzing in my head has stopped, that I want to focus on.

We planned a panel session for the conference close, but concerns over travel meant this was cancelled. Not before I hadn’t written some ideas down about thoughts that struck me over the three days, so these were useful to return to a few weeks later.

I started with this idea that information literacy is like the sea as I was just struck by how many words began with C that had been themes at the conference. There are some parallels with the sea and IL – like the ocean, information literacy has real depth at this year’s LILAC. That’s not to say we’ve been bobbing along at the surface level for the past 11 years, but I feel as a discipline information literacy is really growing in depth. The keynote from Char Booth really highlighted this to me. And yes IL is a discipline, which has rigorous research that underpins it, journals published in the field and at its beating heart, a vibrant community of practice. It’s this vibrancy and passion that stay with me, that the people who teach in this field really care about lifelong learning and they are trying to make a difference. Ultimately we all want people equipped with the ability to deal with what life throws at them, and to have choices about what to do, say and believe. This is what I think we call critical information literacy. It’s far more than critical thinking, or whether a source such as a newspaper or website is trustworthy. It’s about politics and social justice and it’s a big issue that is way more than any librarian can deal with on their own. So that leads me to an important topic, of collaboration. I’ve said it before but its worth repeating. All the best work I do is a result of a collaboration. If you work as a team, yes it’s harder in some ways and requires negotiation, but ultimately what you produce is way better. My recent work with Chris Morrison on copyright literacy shows that, but also the work I’ve done over the years with Emma Coonan, Maria Bell, Debbi Boden, Nancy Graham and Gwyneth Price.

Collaboration is also vital because IL has been about librarians for a long time and this needs to change, we need to bring others into our community. It’s hard to know how to do that with the big L at the start of the conference name – are we being inclusive – possibly not. Do others attend and feel they are imposters, or interlopers? Possibly? We need to talk more to the people at the fringes who come to LILAC but perhaps feel that it’s not quite their space and who feel the need to apologise for not being a librarian. As I said earlier, if we are to tackle the really big important issues about why IL matters, then we need to work with others. It’s too big a job for one professional group alone and by working with teachers, administrators, educational developers, learning technologists and others, then we might get somewhere. This is why I was struck by James Clay’s keynote on Digital Capabilities – this terminology is one that appeals to a lot of groups of professionals, and James recognises the valuable role that librarians play, but we are just one of the players here.

And what about the LILAC newbies, the new professionals and first time attendees? The IL community that exists is built on networks and friendships that in some cases have lasted over a decade. But we need new people and new young professionals to join us and feel welcome and part of this. LILAC is not a private members club, ruled by an elite who control all the power about what happens. It’s inclusive and open and welcoming, we hope, but how can we make it more so? Should there be a LILAC un-conference? Should we let the delegates have more say and control?

What about the programme? Is it too packed? Is it too intense? Do we need more down time for people to just chill and reflect and chat? Or is the intensity part of it’s appeal and charm? I could have walked into any parallel session and I know I would have learnt something and enjoyed it, but at times I felt overwhelmed with what to attend with so much going on all at the same time.

Some of the key themes for me were:

  • creativity – games, play fun, competition, panic rooms, virtual worlds. We had a hugely inspiring keynote by Nic Whitton and Alex Moseley on the role of games in learning where we learnt through play. And I was delighted to take part in the first Lilac Lagadothon, a games competition which was possibly the most exhausting 1.5 hour of my life pitching a new game 6 times!
  • we heard a lot about criticality – critical pedagogy, critical librarianship and the relationship with social justice in talks from our keynote Char Booth and from Alan Carbery and Sean Leahy.
  • there was a strong theme of communities, collaboration and sharing and building on others ideas running through lilac – building networks of interest for example the Google group I set up for librarians interested in or pursuing doctoral research.
  • challenges and challenging were also key at LILAC 2016 – challenging established knowledge, notions of power, social justice
  • capability (of ourselves) but also of others – not just digital capability, but librarians as teachers and researchers.
  • and of course copyright – it doesn’t always come back to this for me, but I think framing copyright as information privilege (as Char Booth did) was really helpful to me and fits with the idea that copyright literacy and education is empowering!

These are just a few thoughts, I hope to share more next week at the LILAC webinar, which will be advertised on the Information Literacy website, but should be next Monday (11th April) at 2pm.

It’s all about writing and editing

IMG_2930Happy New Year! It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post, but don’t think or a minute I’ve not been doing any writing recently. In fact I’ve been doing so much writing (and thinking and reading and debating) that I am going half crazy. It’s all getting very close to the deadline for the second edition of Copyright and E-learning being due with my publisher Facet and so I feel like I’ve done very little but read, write, think and speak about copyright for months now! I’m so grateful for my co-author, Chris Morrison, who is working tirelessly and going slightly crazy with me. And so grateful to our patient families who probably can’t wait until next weekend, when it’s finally sent off for proof reading.

I like writing and I like copyright, but this final stage all gets rather fraught as all of a sudden you remember that crucial thing that’s not in the book. Or you chat with someone and they mention something and you find your mind wandering and thinking, ‘I really ought to have referenced that article’, or find out more about whether this topic is relevant to my book. I can only apologise for my slightly more distracted attitude than usual in meetings, in conversations with people and even while at the gym or socialising! It will end very soon!

On top of this I’m really excited that Chris and I’d first peer reviewed article on our Copyright Literacy research came out in late December in Library and Information Research. We’ve started the next phase of the research which is to carry out some focus groups (it wasn’t like we had much else to do!) and have been preparing to pitch a new game at LILAC as part of the exciting new format of presentations, Legadothon. Yes I know, it sounds like something from Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars, but we have Nigel Morgan to thank for this! On that note I’d like to point out that despite Nigel’s encouragement, I haven’t yet started writing historical fictional set in a library, nor introduced elements of this into Copyright and E-learning (my co-author wouldn’t buy it!)

Finally, the excitement of the ILG involvement in TeenTech continues and we have launched 10 resource sheets for schools, to support pupils and their teachers in how to do research. These guides are really visually attractive as well as hopefully being practical and useful for the teenagers. They are also all licensed under Creative Commons, so if you haven’t seen them, do check them out! There is much more I could write about, but the book is calling me for some final amendments! See you on the other side folks!!

Michaelmas Term conferences, fun and games

It is now the end of term at LSE and we have had a great start to the year with the recruitment of almost 50 undergraduate student ambassadors for the SADL project. I’ve spoken about the programme several times in the last few months, for example at ECIL in October. In October I also gave a webinar for EIFL on digital literacy and a few weeks ago a webinar for staff at NUI Galway as part of their All Aboard HE project. Moira and I also ran another London Digital Student Meet-up in November at the Royal Veterinary College with colleagues from UCL and Jisc and some of the SADL team came along to take part. We were even lucky enough to meet a real horse!

Copyright cakesMeanwhile the copyright literacy roadshow continues after a successful trip to Tallinn, Chris and I were in Leeds on 22nd November for the IL and games event running a two hour copyright card game session. We also ran a workshop together last week for LSE staff, some of whom came along to play the game for a second time. It was nothing to do with the copyright cakes we tempted them with!

This week I was in Newport for the Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE) conference where I was part of a symposium on digital literacies. Then next week I will be in Sheffield for the Social Media in Learning in HE conference playing more games – this time on copyright and the social media challenges.

I’d like to say after that I rest as I’m off work for two weeks but between Christmas celebrations, working on the updates to my 2010 book Copyright and E-learning. I’m working with Chris to update it and enjoying not only having a second set of eyes on the text, but the discussions over all the changes that have happened since 2010 in both copyright law and technology. Even terms like e-learning which we are retaining in the title, seem to have dated a little. Dare I say we have reached a state of post e-learning, where now we just talk about learning whether online or face to face? I’m not sure; what I do know is that digital literacy, learning and copyright all seem to be featuring as the major elements in my work still.

ECIL 2015: Estonian adventures

Jane in TallinnTwo weeks ago I attended the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL2015); the third I was fortunate enough to attend. Held in Tallinn the capital of Estonia, which is a beautiful medieval city on the Baltic coast.

The theme of the conference was Information Literacy in the Green Society and back last year when this was announced I was a little unsure what it meant. In fact few papers I attended addressed green issues directly, but what I took away was that information literacy is central to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and IL is all part of building sustainable, democratic societies, where people have access to information and the critical abilities to know what to do with it.

I had a busy schedule, presenting three papers at the conference. The first was about the Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy programme at LSE, now in its third year, so the focus of the paper was on sustainability and the impact of this programme on our undergraduate students, following the extensive evaluation we carried out in the summer of 2015. My slides are available on Slideshare and I co-authored this paper with my colleague from LSE, Maria Bell.

My second paper was inspired by attending a series of papers at last year’s ECIL on European research into the copyright literacy knowledge of library and related professionals. Following this I got involved in the second phase of this multi-national study of copyright literacy, coordinating the UK version of this survey with Chris Morrison, from the University of Kent. We presented our findings from over 600 UK librarians in an interactive, ‘Play your Cards Right’ style session to compare the data with other countries. Again these slides are on SlideShare. You can also find out more from the new website we’ve launched as a home for UK Copyright Literacy activities.

My final paper focused on recent work of the CILIP Information Literacy Group, and I delivered this with fellow ILG Committee member, Geoff Walton, from Northumbria University. UK Information Literacy Advocacy: reaching out beyond the tower, explored the advocacy work ILG have embarked on in the last year to build up links with organisations outside the library sector and to promote information literacy to groups such as Trade Unions, businesses, schools and public libraries. I also spoke about the work we’ve done with TeenTech to launch a Research and Information Literacy award.

Congratulations to Sonja Špiranec and Serap Kurbanoğlu, the founders of ECIL for another fantastic conference and for making me feel part of a global network of information literacy. I returned inspired and energized and would urge others from the UK to try to get to this conference next year, not least because it will be in another beautiful European city, Prague.

The start of the academic year

Copyright the card gameIt’s been a hectic few weeks, with term starting a week earlier at LSE, to take into account of the new academic year structure, and the inclusion of a reading week in Week 6 of term. Start of the term means new academic staff induction events, an Open House in LTI, Welcome Week for our new students, where we promote Learning and Development opportunities from across the school and the launch of the third year of the SADL Programme (it’s not a project anymore!).

I’ve also been busy running more Copyright the Card game sessions, for colleagues in IMT last month and then for around 40 Cambridge librarians last week. I surprised myself that the game could work with so many people and in just under 2 hours. That is what a cup of coffee does for me! It also proved that no one can resist a copyright fortune cookie as a prize!

Today I gave only my second ever webinar, for EIFL, on the topic of digital literacy. I had around 50 people tune in from around the world and the recording should be on their website soon. It was a great experience and an opportunity to share some of the work we’re doing with people around the world. On that note, I’m currently in the process of preparing 3 presentations for the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL 2015) which takes place in just under 2 weeks in Tallinn, Estonia. I will be presenting a paper on the impact of the SADL Project, written jointly with my colleague Maria Bell. I’ll also be presenting on the UK Copyright Literacy Survey data with Chris Morrison from University of Kent and presenting with Geoff Walton from Northumbria University on the advocacy work the Information Literacy group have been doing outside the HE library sector, including work on TeenTech. This is the third ECIL and then third I have attended so I am looking forward to catching up with colleagues from Europe and beyond.

Last week I attended an event at the Digital Catapult on Euston Road, organised by CREATe (the RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy, based at the University of Glasgow) on the subject of orphan works. It covered the IPO’s Orphan Works Licensing Scheme, the EU Directive and how different institutions are handling orphan works. It was great to meet up with members of CREATe, who are behind the website It was a week of copyright for me, as the UUK-Copyright working group had a meeting at the CLA.

And of course last week, there was some fuss about me being appointed an Honorary Fellow of CILIP. So all in all it’s been a pretty good start to the new academic year.