ECIL 2014: Dubrovnik sunshine and information literacy

Sunset over DubrovnikI spent last week at the second European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL), held in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The conference attracted almost 300 delegates from over 50 different countries from Europe and beyond, the location was stunning and the weather kind to us. There were about 15 of us from the UK attending, so it really is an opportunity to meet colleagues interested in information literacy from many other countries. The organisation was excellent, congratulations to the committee and to Serap and Sonja, the founders of this conference which started last year in Istanbul. The quality of the papers was also extremely high and I look forward to seeing the conference proceedings in due course. In this post I will focus on some of the keynotes and invited speakers, and write up some of the parallel sessions I attended later.

I was pretty busy over the course of the 4 days running a writing for publication workshop, participating in a panel discussion for InformALL on workplace IL and presenting a paper on the SADL project with my colleague Maria. The conference is pretty intense and although this year it didn’t run into the evening, other than for social events. Being based in a conference hotel also really helped, as there was less time walking, and a tempting pool when you needed refreshing!

We had some excellent keynote speakers including Michael B Eisenberg from Washington iSchool, who is famous for his Big6 model  who gave us his personal history of information literacy. David Bawden from City University was the second keynote, talking about the many literacies (with one to rule them all?) although he actually prefers the term information fluency. There were also some great invited speakers including Maria Carme Torras Calvo, Louise Limberg, Drew Whitworth, Sheila Webber and Bill Johnston. Sheila was live blogging throughout the conference so you can read her numerous posts from ECIL.

There were numerous references over the conference to the importance of IL to democracy, highlighted by several speakers in relation to the Scottish referendum. The referendum was an example of where people felt a lack of information (or the ability to ascertain what was pertinent) was a real problem. Health information literacy also came up a lot at the conference and the panel discussion on workplace IL really highlighted how information literacy has gone way beyond being just an academic concern. We had several talks that discussed the value of IL theories, with Drew Whitworth’s talk on ‘radical information literacy’, where we were urged to read one of the earliest papers on IL by Cess Hamelink, called ‘an alternative to news.

Bill Johnston of Strathclyde University wrapped up the conference, returning to the big issues of human rights, democracy and health, but also sustainability and how we cope with scaling up IL when everyone wants it. Next year’s conference will be in Tallinn Estonia and the theme will be around sustainability and green issues. I sincerely hope I can attend to catch up with old friends, meet new ones and be part of what is becoming a global network for information literacy.


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