Remember the past and look to the future

Statue at PompeiiI’ve just returned from a long weekend in Italy, visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum. History was my first degree and I never tire of visiting places of great historical significance. Being able to walk on the Roman streets of Pompeii and to see houses, shops and vivid paintings at Herculaneum was amazing and moving.

I’ve been thinking a lot about history recently. I was struck by the quote that was written at the Harbiye Military Museum in Istanbul while attending the ECIL conference a few weeks ago. It was a quote from Ataturk, which read something like ‘A Nation that doesn’t remember it’s history is doomed to obscurity.’ I’ve been trying to track down the quote, but I guess the translation from Turkish makes it difficult to find.But for me, history is vital. It tells us where we have come from, the progress we have made and inspires us to strive for the future.

This week I’ve  been busy finishing my editorial for the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Information Literacy, which also has a historical theme. As we approach the 40 year anniversary of the coining of the phrase ‘information literacy’ I have been reflecting on the origins of the term. Zurkowski’s definition of information literacy is still relevant today, but the problems he faced getting recognition for its importance remain.

At LSE this term, recognition for the value of information literacy took a few small steps forward. We have some small scale pilots to embed aspects of digital and information literacy in undergraduate courses. And just today we launched the recruitment campaign for the SADL project, to find 20 undergraduate students to be Digital Literacy Ambassadors. We’ve had fantastic support from our Students’ Union Education Officer, Rosie, who blogged about the launch today. For too long librarians have been waving the flag for information literacy as a lone voice, but collaboration with academic staff, with other learning support colleagues and with students is surely the way forward? This was a topic of the presentation I gave with my colleague Maria Bell at ECIL, and we’ve made our slides available on SlideShare.

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