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.

As ever the programme was packed, and with over 300 delegates attending it was a full on conference. I spent several breaks sitting on the Information Literacy Group stand, but presented two sessions as well. My workshop with Cathie Jackson, Managing Editor of the Journal of Information Literacy was well attended despite being at 10am on the first morning of the conference. We shared ‘Tips for Aspiring Authors’ on writing for publication. It was aimed at people who wanted to turn their LILAC presentation into a full peer-reviewed paper and attempted to de-mystify the peer review process and provide people with a structure for an academic paper. There was a chance to look at a short project report and think about how this could be worked up into a peer reviewed paper. Our slides are on the ILG’s Slideshare account.

The second session I was involved in was a symposium with Nancy Graham, Siobhan Burke, Ella Mitchell and Darren Flynn and we were discussing sharing information literacy resources as OERs and the work of the CoPILOT Committee. Our presentation is on Slideshare. We also had great attendance and participation from the audience. We looked at initiatives to share resources locally, within a sector and globally, including the work Nancy and I had done with UNESCO to set up a platform for discussion Information Literacy OERs internationally.

I was also really pleased to have two members of the SADL project team, my colleagues Maria Bell and Ellen Wilkinson present at LILAC. It was another packed out room to hear about our experiences of establishing Student Ambassadors for Digital literacy for undergraduates in two departments. They shared some of the workshop resources we’ve developed and the lesson learnt from this project which is coming to an end in July, but hopefully going to continue next academic year. Well done to Maria and Ellen, presenting with me watching over them, Ellen was a first timer to LILAC and this was her first conference presentation!

I chaired a few session which was a great way of seeing a variety of papers, including Georgina Dimmock from the the Skills Hub at Northampton team who won the Credo Information Literacy Online Award this year. Susan Halfpenny from University of York spoke about the Contextagon, a framework she has developed for law students to help them unpack a research question before embarking on a literature search, which has wider application. However, this year there was a lot I didn’t get to, but heard many great things about. You can read more about LILAC from Sheila Webber’s great summary blog post.

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