Scottish Government Library blog

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LILAC Conference. 25th – 26th April 2019, Nottingham

Morag Higgison and Paul Gray attended days 2 and 3 of this year’s varied, fun and informative LILAC conference.  Although the conference felt largely FE/HE focused to us, as a UK government library we’re all too aware of the need to develop information literacy skills in the workplace too.  We also enjoyed the spacious (if hilly) venue at the University of Nottingham:

University of Nottingham campus

University of Nottingham campus

In this post I’ll summarise some ideas on how we could put what we learned into practice in the Scottish Government Library, as well as mentioning other things I found particularly interesting.  But first, here are some useful conference links:

Thursday: Day 2

LILAC19 welcome

LILAC19 welcome

There were a quite a few things we took from Ruth Carlyle’s insightful keynote ‘health literacy: information for life’ that we could adapt for use in the Scottish Government.  One is to consider Nutbeam’s 3 types of health literacy (functional, interactive and critical) when we teach information literacy skills.

Ruth also advocated the use of ‘teach-back’ and ‘chunk and check’ (giving small chunks of information then checking understanding) in health information settings to ensure the patient has understood correctly.  These are techniques we’ll adapt and use in our social media and searching skills training sessions.

Like the health sector, the government sector can also be very jargon, acronym and initials heavy.  We do try to use plain English in our work, but we’ll check and see if we can improve on this.

The reuse of Open Access materials is something we often discuss in our Library.  The information literacy and open access panel discussion helped shed some light on this area.  The online documentary Paywall: the business of scholarship discusses how much money publishers make out of research.  The panel suggested copyright should be different for publishing than for movies.  At the moment the approach is the same.

With free (or cheaper) access to research more people would benefit from sharing quality information.  And academics are happy to share their work.  However, only 7% of Open Access materials have a reuse licence.  Plus in research, copyright on a work generally starts with the author but by the time it’s published most rights have been handed over to the publisher.

So there is a need for copyright education for authors to help them retain rights to their work.  Also for researchers to publish where they want, but it’s hard to break the tradition of publishing in peer reviewed journals for the reputation and kudos that brings.

Information literacy: necessary but not sufficient for 21st century learning from Darryl Toerien was a fascinating insight into FOSIL – an inquiry based learning cycle and framework for schools.  At its heart is the understanding information literacy needs to be taught from primary school to prepare pupils for university and life in general.  Of course in Scotland we now have a national strategy for school libraries.  But as the FOSIL inquiry based learning cycle and framework documents can be reused under Creative Commons it’s worth us sharing it here.

Friday: Day 3


Auditorium. Courtesy of LILAC with Creative Commons attribution

Stepping into the unknown by Lorna Smith and Anne Archer from Newcastle University Library was an interesting summary of how they transferred a face-to-face information skills workshop into a more meaningful, holistic online learning experience for students.  The online self-assessment is via an Information Skills Checker which measures the results from 12 statements on a Likert scale asked at the start and end.  Responses are anonymous (and subjective) with feedback given in results to say if students need to refresh any skills they scored low on.  Feedback has been positive with 89% of students appreciating learning at their own pace and 64% appreciating being able to revisit difficult concepts.

This is something our Library will consider adapting for use across the Scottish Government.

Allison Littlejohn gave the final conference keynote on the growing popularity of the MOOC in HE – the (un)intended consequence of innovation in HE.  A fascinating take that MOOCs are being driven by those who have no interest in them.  They are often seen more as a revenue stream.  Also MOOCS are usually linear and so have high drop out rates.  Students need to find their way through a MOOC.  We expect students to follow predefined pathways rather than finding their own.  However, Allison explains there are self regulated and non-self regulated learners.  They go through a MOOC differently.  Allison cited Kiron as a good example of a MOOC.  Kiron enables access to higher education for refugees.

Online learning tends to just replicate classroom learning, but courses need to reflect the workplace structure and how it can be applied.  Authentic learning activities motivate learners and context is important to ensure literacy is learned as an embedded practice.  These are things we should consider for our Library’s very own 10 Things MOOC.

As our Library has our own Fighting Fake News presentation it was interesting to see Jessica Long and Jennifer Hicks’ presentation on Fake News for the Masses and the Miami University LibGuide on evaluating news sources.  From the resources covered a few were new to us.  Of note are the Trump Twitter Archive and the tip to use a reverse image search (e.g. TinEye) to authenticate images.

The conference closing panel discussion stressed we should focus on the why rather than the how of information literacy.  It was noted this should include how to search for grey literature.

Paul Gray
June 22, 2019

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CILIPS Autumn Gathering. 24th October 2018, Glasgow

Paul Gray and Fiona Palmar attended the 2018 CILIPS Autumn Gathering.  Here are our reports from the day:

Paul Gray

It’s been 2 years since I last attended the CILIPS Autumn Gathering, so I was looking forward to dipping into this sample of the wide range of matters Scottish libraries are currently involved with, outlined in the programme. CILIPS has also uploaded the presentations from the conference and delegates were busy on Twitter providing a sense of what the hot topics were. Here are my key points from the day:

Poverty in Scotland 2018: trends, causes and potential solutions – Dr. Jim McCormick, Associate Director Scotland, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
This opening keynote gave a sobering update on poverty in Scotland. 1 in 5 Scots are living in poverty. But with very few couples in Scotland both not working, low paid insecure work is now the leading cause of poverty. JRF see the problem lies mainly with the job market – plus reduced tax credits and delays in universal credit payments. JRF has a vision of no one being in poverty for more than 2 years by 2030 and advocates springboards rather than safety nets for those in poverty.

Engaging Libraries and Science – East Dunbartonshire’s Intergenerational Brainworks Project. Lesley Tyler, Children and Families Coordinator, East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture Trust
Lesley described the many and varied sessions the Brainworks Projects runs with children and older adults to help understand on how the human brain works. However, Lesley happened to mention Second Life (a 3D social virtual world). I explored Second Life a few years ago when I was interested in its potential as a learning environment. Having felt it hadn’t really taken off it was interesting to hear about Dr Evelyn McElhinney’s thesis on the health literacy skills and practices undertaken by people who have accessed health information in Second Life, and the influence on their physical world health behaviour. Apparently most Second Life users are now over 40 with younger ‘griefers’ having left the site. I do recall this being a barrier to people taking Second Life seriously a few years ago.

My journey to professional recognition – Sally Walker, Orkney Libraries and Scotland’s Library and Information Professional 2017
I recall voting for Sally for “Scotland’s Library and Information Professional 2017” on the variety of initiatives she started in Orkney libraries children’s services. So in this second keynote of the day it was great to hear how winning that title had boosted her career – where she continues to innovate and develop Orkney libraries children’s services. Including acquiring microbits going out to schools teaching pupils how to programme them. And clubs for Lego, Minecraft and coding.

Information Literacy: A new definition and the role of library and information professionals. Jacqueline Geekie, Information Literacy and Learning Librarian for Aberdeenshire Libraries

“Information literacy is the ability to think critically and make balanced judgements about any information we find and use. It empowers us as citizens to reach and express informed views and to engage fully with society.”

This is the new definition launched at LILAC in April 2018. Jacqueline explained this is based on member survey feedback in 2016 and LILAC feedback in 2017, and it replaces the previous definition from 2004.

The CILIP Information Literacy Group website also includes details on the role of information literacy across a range of sectors including health.

Social media literacy and the new challenges to online debate – Dr. Jennifer Jones
This was the most relevant and significant session for me. Jennifer compared the new and optimistic social media landscape 10 years ago with how that has actually panned out 10 years on. From the expectation that organisations need to “digitally transform” to fake news and misinformation. Plus the rapid growth of user generated content.  To get a measure of this boom in content Jennifer explained 90% of all online data has been produced in the last 2 years.

To help manage these issues around social media literacy in 2018 Jennifer gave a taster of her 9 challenges for online discourse.

Health Information Pathways – the collaborative approach across public libraries, NHS and third sector, to support public library staff to develop their role in self-management, health literacy and shared decision-making. Marianne Brennan, Development Officer, The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland
This session outlined that Ambition & Opportunity (the National Strategy for Scottish Public Libraries) is being updated – with Health Information Pathways focussing on strategic aim 4 (social wellbeing).

Marianne also discussed how The Alliance recognises that libraries help people’s wellbeing and has created a SLIC funded supporting self management toolkit as well as running a 2 year pilot to bring librarians into the multi-professional health care team.

Ethics and the role of the PKSB (Professional Knowledge and Skills Base) in research.  Paul Cannon, College Librarian Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences, University of Glasgow Library
Paul described his research journey through his professional doctorate and drew a comparison stating the things required from librarians’ professionalism are similar to those of those in medical professions. Though he has found the demands of employer often come before those as professional librarian.

Paul uses 3 frameworks to counter ethical challenges:

However, PKSB frameworks can’t always be nuanced enough to be appropriate for all parts of the information profession. Paul also highlighted the lack of high quality research about the Library profession. CILIP is looking at an evidence based practice profession, and has organised webinars around research skills and has a Library and Information Research group. But these efforts aren’t joined up and the impact not known.

Libraries and Kinder Communities – Zoe Ferguson, The Carnegie UK Trust
In the final keynote Zoe discussed why kindness in communities is important. Kindness in delivering public services is something I’ve read quite a lot about lately, and this talk explained that it’s not about asking people to be kinder to each other. Rather, it’s what are the factors that help create kindness? Such as welcoming places, informal opportunities and the values of kindness. Though our attitudes to risk, regulation, professionalism and performance management can get in the way. For example, are libraries being pressured into contributing outcomes rather than being a welcoming community place?

Zoe concluded by stating kindness should be a key indicator when looking at performance measure rather than the more traditional measures.

Paul Gray
December 17, 2018

CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2018

Fiona Palmar

At only my second CILIP event ever, as well as thoroughly enjoying the networking opportunities and the exhibition I took a dip into some of the seminars to complement my own Governmental sector knowledge.

Memorabilia and Ephemera: Football programmes at the National Library of Scotland – Graeme Forbes, Associate Director of Collections Management
In an insightful seminar Graeme described the role of Football programmes in particular, and the larger collection of ephemera within the National Library of Scotland, in general as an insight into various aspects of Scottish social history.

Various aspects of the programmes were discussed:

  • The history of each club that has provided material for the collection
  • The rise of advertising, with adverts placed by local and national companies
  • Captions for photographs
  • Evidence of printing and typing technologies
  • Rule changes within the history of the game
  • Pitch diagrams and references to individual team members playing in any individual match

Overall a fascinating insight into a little known collection in the NLS, but the bit that stood out for me was the difficulty in cataloguing such a collection, given such a diverse range of aspects that an individual searcher may be looking for (both for family and social history aspects).

Librarians with Lives – Jo Wood
A very personal insight into her career within Librarianship, which particularly covered the areas of Health and Resilience within the profession in general and with specific reference to her career path.

Particularly interesting to me, were the subtopics of Employer support, Support Strategies and Support Networks.

Jo’s last section covered the creation and development of her Podcast: Librarians with Lives. In particular how it developed and how it fits into her (and our) CPD with references to the Networking opportunities that it provides.

As a result of this seminar I have subscribed to her podcast, and have thoroughly enjoyed the episodes that I have heard so far. I am also involved in learning all I can about Resilience tools and techniques towards supporting Mental Health in the workplace.

Marketing academic libraries and understanding student needs – Dr Sonya Campbell-Perry. Head of Customer Service, The Library, Glasgow Caledonian University
Sonya covered a variety of interesting points relating to knowing how we as service providers, can know what service users actually want, and how providers can supply this need in an ever changing digital environment.

One question that resonated with me in particular, was the question: “How do you manage expectations?” This is particularly relevant because service providers in all sectors are encountering users that demand flexible , easy to use, seamless services, but don’t often get the funding to do this!

I also found of use the idea of spending time on customer journeys, of identifying the pain points and limiting or eliminating them entirely. I hope to put this into practice in my own work practices.

Voice and Vision: essential issues around diversity and inclusion for school libraries – Jake Hope – Voice and Vision Book
Jake identified lots of national and local drivers of diversity and introduced some concepts of diversity that we had not personally thought of. He divided the room and used little groups to identify drivers that were local to sectors, or individual situations.

Some of the areas that emerged included how to include information in collections for users requiring:

  • Autism and Dyslexia friendly information delivery
  • Visual and mental health accessibility
  • Braille and Foreign language books
  • Wheelchair accessible furniture

As well as the usual diversity factors of Age, Disability, Gender and Gender identity, Race, Religion/belief, Sexual orientation, Social class and educational needs.

A real eye opener.

Fiona Palmar
December 17, 2018

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CILIP conference 2017. 5th–6th July 2017, Manchester

Morag Higgison and Paul Gray attended this year’s CILIP conference.  We both took alot of messages and thoughts back to the Scottish Government Library from this busy and excellent event.  Now we’ve had time to reflect here are some useful summaries of the conference plus our notes from the day:


Day 1
Keynote: Dr Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress
Carla Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress on September 14, 2016.  The first woman and the first African American to lead the national library. Carla gave a very engaging keynote where she explained that she was interviewed by President Obama for the post of Librarian of Congress. President Obama stated he wanted the Library of Congress to be more accessible to Americans.
Carla being a great believer in the rights of all people (not just researchers), to educate themselves, and in the importance of open access to information online, she went on to explain accessibility and engagement is what she wanted to achieve most of all.  After meeting with the British Library Carla was impressed by how the British Library had achieved this.
Once in post she found some resistance amongst some librarians to make the Library of Congress collections more open, but as they saw how other librarians worked with children and other visitors to explain the collections they started to come on board.

Rethinking Libraries – workshop run by Arup
Julian Diamond, Associate Director, Information Management, Arup
Elisa Magnini, Analyst, Foresight + Research + Innovation, Arup
Julian explained how Arup worked with various libraries to increase use. For example, introducing QR codes on metro systems to advertise a library. They also use a management tool to focus on measuring library use by community use rather than book issues. We then broke into groups for a workshop looking at key trends which will impact on libraries.

Spark not fluff – quick win marketing workshop
Terry Kendrick, Director of Executive Education, Leeds University Business School
Librarians are aware that marketing is far more than creating a set of leaflets for their marketing communications. Highlighting from the outset the need for a good marketing strategy. This interactive workshop demonstrated key things that any library marketing strategy must have if it’s to be successful: a simple, practical guide to the whole marketing planning process from goals to implementation of marketing strategies and communications.

Keynote: Professor Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information, University of Oxford
Luciano Floridi’s keynote argued that questions are now the key to power, not answers. Internet connectivity has risen rapidly including the growth of the Internet of Things. Between 2003 and 2010 there became more connected devices than people and the last 2 years has generated 90% of all online data.
It also means the concept of ownership has changed. For example, you don’t own an eBook.
Luciano described the philosophy of information – its problems, approaches, and methods, explaining further that information as ‘an answered question’ and is about uncertainty.  Who controls the questions shapes the answers and who shapes the answers controls reality.  The role of libraries is to counter this power to control by providing answers – reducing uncertainty.  Read more at Power lies in controlling questions.

What makes a great communicator?
Claire Bradshaw, Director, Claire Bradshaw Associates
Whether we like it or not, when meeting someone for the first time first impressions count. Communicating is easy, but communicating well is a skill. Positive exchanges of information is something not everyone can do. Good communication habits come with regular practice.  Claire’s workshop offered a fast overview of what makes a great communicators. Starting by defining communication is the act of transferring verbal, written or non-verbal information. It is good to remember that different personality types tend to have preferred ways to receive information. For example, introverts prefer written information. Seminal research by Albert Mehrabian, Journal of Consulting Psychology, 1967 breaks down communication as:

  • Body language 55%
  • Voice/tone 38%
  • Spoken word 7%

Claire then explored the ‘mind-body’ relationship. How our bodies change our minds and our minds can change our behaviour and our behaviour can change our outcomes. For more on this watch or read Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk.
We then broke into small groups to explore our personality types. You can find a version of the personality type compass used in the workshop here. It can highlight issues such as if you don’t tend to ‘show off’ then writing a strong CV can be hard.
A key message here was we all have different personality types, and at times those differences can create difficulties and clashes, but if we understand the differences we can find ways to work together and the differences can become a strength.

End of day 1

Day 2
Keynote: Neil MacInnes, Strategic Lead-Libraries, Galleries & Culture, Manchester City Council
Neil gave a very positive background as to how Manchester Libraries developed and expanded services to enable and offer an up-to-date modern day library service to meet the needs of all Mancunians – all with no dedicated budget.
For example, by co-locating libraries with other council services and unifying services, targeting non-library users, providing services to older residents, relaunching the Manchester Libraries website and relaunching Manchester Central Library as a third space. Neil then explained there’s more to do and Manchester has published a public libraries skills strategy 2017-2030.

Digital play: Ways to enhance the library experience
Beyond the summer reading challenge: Using young volunteers to shape your year-round teenage offer
Paula Carley, Service Development Co-ordinator, Manchester City Council
This session looked at ways to engage with library voluteers, with a view to setting up a dialogue , listen to ideas and thoughts on how to best develop the service together. The workshop showcased the Imaginators, the young volunteers at Bolton Library & Museum Service, and how the programme has evolved over time.

Organisational Knowledge and Information Governance
Ceri Hughes, Director, Head of Knowledge Centre of Excellence, KPMG
Ceri explained that organisations need to prepare for the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will come into force on 25th May 2018.
Ceri also announced that CILIP and KPMG are working together to publish a revised and updated edition of Information as an asset: The board agenda, originally written by a committee under the chairmanship of Dr Robert Hawley in 1995. The updated report will be published in Autumn 2017.
Read more here.

Mobilising Evidence and Organisational Knowledge in the NHS
Sue Lacey Bryant, Senior Advisor, Knowledge for Healthcare, Health Education England
Louise Goswami, Head of Library and Knowledge Services Development, Health Education England, Kent, Surrey and Sussex
Sue explained how Lord Carter identified need for greater use of evidence to engage manager and clinical leaders and to improve the decision making process in using factual data and evidence. Healthcare evidence base depends on type of healthcare. For example only around 35% of osteoarthritis healthcare is evidence-based.
A million decisions is meant to encourage decision makers to use libraries to implement evidence based decisions. Healthcare information professionals have a measurable impact on NHS services and save the NHS money.
Louise described the board self assessment tool to enable NHS organisations to make better use of knowledge as an asset – covering leadership, culture, knowledge resources, priorities and planning. Also anyone can use the workforce development resources – learning zone to help skill up on knowledge management.

Information Management and Knowledge Management; the conjoined twin disciplines?
Nick Milton, Knoco Ltd
Nick discussed TD Wilson’s paper – the nonsense of knowledge management. This argues knowledge management is in our heads and as soon as it’s expressed it becomes information management. So ‘knowledge’ can’t be managed. He then discussed the confusion between knowledge and information management. He defines knowledge as uncodified information – but there is overlap.

The Intelligent Library
James Clay, Senior Co-Design Manager, Jisc
James spoke about the intelligent campus – taking advantage of technologies to improve the student experience, research and management of the campus. For example, using it to create a smarter campuses room management, student engagement, turning smartphones into educational coaches, predicting computer demand, expanding library as use increases and using RFID to track books. Having a deeper understanding of the utilisation of the library will allow for more effective and efficient use of space, even to the extent of having a flexible library that expands and contracts as demand for space in the library changes over the day or over the year.

Supporting citizens with protecting their privacy online
Aude Charillon, Library and Information Officer, Newcastle Libraries
Aude started by reminding us that all our technology collects data and recommended Data and Goliath to read more on this and how privacy is about choice – you’re making an informed decision about your privacy. Aude also explained how Newcastle libraries have privacy training and how all their digital skills programmes include this.

Learning from digital disruption and how it can help libraries
Dave Rowe, Geospatial software developer, CartoConsult
Dave defined digital disruption as changes by new technologies that happen so fast it effects models and ways of thinking. He cited Kodak and Blockbuster as companies which failed due to this. There are various responses to disruption – try to stop it, invest, keep customers, retreat.
Examples of disruptive technologies are 3D printing, eBooks, open data, APIs (such as the Open Data Institute’s visualing rail disruptor.
Dave stated that Libraries tend to have closed systems and closed data and use outdated technology. This needs to change. He also made the point if you don’t make information available via open data it’s probably FOIable anyway.

Increasing reach and access through Wikimedia
Lucy Crompton-Reid, Chief Executive, Wikimedia UK
Wikimedia have a vision of a more tolerant, informed and democratic society through the shared creation of and access to open knowledge.  Lucy manages the UK Wikipedia in residence programme and gave an introduction to Wikipedia, asserting that there is still a big gender bias in coverage and mentioned the 100 women and Art+feminism editathons and ways to address this.
Lucy also encouraged us to use Wikidata and plans to work with CILIP for librarians to engage with the #1lib1ref campaign from the Wikipedia library.

“No-one I know uses it any more”: the reasons used to cut libraries
Ian Anstice, Editor, Public Libraries News
Ian explained to campaign for libraries you need to understand everyone’s point of view. For example, quiet is important in public libraries – think about how you zone quiet spaces.  “More than a library” type promotions – what’s wrong with being a Library? Don’t denigrate your unique selling point – public libraries freely give equality of information.
He then launched into a passionate plea to protect public libraries. Starting with saying we all need public libraries as a safety net in society – so stop austerity and fund libraries. The investment will bring a return – other countries are increasing funding. Closing Libraries is a negative feedback loop.
It was suggested that joining the CILIP Publicity and Public Relations Group could also help.

Paul and Morag

Paul Gray and Morag Higgison
September 21, 2017

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LILAC 2015. 8th-10th April, Newcastle.

Although I didn’t attend this year’s LILAC in person, I did follow and capture much of it on Twitter at

The presentations can also be found at aswell as other presentations and documents on information literacy.

Paul Gray
April 15, 2015