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Scotland’s Digital Strategy

Scotland’s refreshed Digital Strategy was launched on 22 March by Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Constitution, Derek MacKay MSP at an event in Tontine House, Glasgow.

“The strategy sets out the Scottish Government’s vision for Scotland as a vibrant, inclusive, open and outwards looking digital nation and describes the actions we collectively need to take to ensure that Scotland anticipates and reacts positively to the changing opportunities the digital age presents.”

Information literacy per se may only be mentioned once (see extract below) but our take on the digital skills mentioned throughout the document includes not only being able to work online using technology, but also critical thinking skills, information search skills, skills to inform decision making as well as understanding privacy, security and keeping safe online.

“Digital allows information to be transmitted faster and further than ever before, enabling us to develop new communities of interest and opening up new opportunities for education, commerce, creativity, friendship and leisure. In doing so however, it raises new challenges around security, information literacy and privacy”.

Jenny Foreman
March 24, 2017

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Information Literacy Symposium. 18th November 2016, Glasgow

The Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) and The Right Information, the Scottish Information Literacy Community of Practice hosted a Digital and Information Literacy Symposium examining the relevance of digital and information literacy in relation to health, education, housing, employability and welfare reform. The central theme was how we ensure equality of access to information across the country and reduce the gap between the information rich and information poor.


SLIC has uploaded the presentations and curated tweets from the symposium. Here is our summary of the day:

Information Literacy in Impoverished Circumstances: Insights from information Behaviour Research
Dr Steven Buchanan, Head of Information Science (iLab) Research Group & Director of PG Teaching, University of Strathclyde
Steven described the research iLab is conducting in a range of groups including:

  • Information seeking behaviours of young mothers
  • Information behaviours of disadvantaged and disengaged adolescents

However, Steven pointed out that iLab research suggests that we need to review how public libraries meet the information needs of people in disadvantaged and disengaged circumstances, and develop core literacy skills. An action-oriented interdisciplinary approach (bringing together academia and practitioners) should support this work.

Information Literacy in the Health Sector
Annette Thain, Manager Knowledge Services, NHS Education for Scotland
@athain @nesknowledge
Annette took us through a wide range of resources in the NHSScotland Knowledge Network that support health literacy. Health literacy was defined as people having enough knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence to use health information, to be active partners in their care, and to navigate the health and social care systems. These resources include:

Clinical librarian and outreach librarian roles involve carrying out information sourcing on behalf of health professionals. Generally the librarian is part of the clinical team and must work quickly and accurately to find relevant research evidence and other information so that care and treatment can be decided on. This is an expanding role in the health information professional workforce and research has shown that clinical/health librarians do make a difference to the quality of care be enabling health care staff to:

  • Be effective and safe practitioners
  • Work as part of a multidisciplinary team
  • Help patients and the public gain the skills and ability to find, understand and apply health information as and when required to do so

It was interesting to hear results of NHS Education for Scotland research which showed 75% of health staff surveyed would ask Google before asking colleagues. One final tip which I’ll be checking out was how to bookmark tweets you like by linking your Twitter account to your Diigo account.

Digitally Agile National Principles
Liz Green, Senior Development Officer, YouthLink Scotland
@lizfmgreen @digitallyagile
Liz explained the work of the Digitally Agile Community Learning and Development Project. This focused on the 3 phases of the Digitally Agile National Principles – a national framework of guiding principles for the use of digital technology and social media in community learning and development.

The 9 principles have been designed to be used and adapted by anyone who feels that focus and clarity is needed in digital technology and social media learning. The principles are of particular importance to those working in organisations and services from the statutory, voluntary and community sectors .  Those working in this area work with some of the most disadvantaged groups in society.  The principles are easily related to everyday practical teaching and can help those disadvantaged groups increase their digital literacy and improve their lives.

It was also interesting to hear of the other work YouthLink Scotland is involved with. This includes:

  • The Digital Youth Network – a network for practitioners who are using digital tools and online spaces in their work with young people
  • 5Rights – takes the existing rights of children and young people (under 18) and articulates them for the digital world
  • LGBT Youth Scotland which now offers an anonymous live chat service around a range of topics i.e. sexting
  • #notwithoutme project – engaging and building young people’s digital literacy

Digital Learning & Cultural Practice
Dr Cristina Costa, Lecturer in Technology Enhanced Learning, University of Strathclyde
New networking cultures are emerging as more and more people engage digitally.  Working and communicating digitally is changing some of the fundamental ways people connect, interact, share, and work. A new networking culture appears to be evolving as a result. It is increasing vital that new forms of engagement are put in to practice in all areas of working life and at home. The world is a very competitive place to live and work and it is therefore important to keep up to date with developments and advancements in terms of collaboration, personal and professional development. The technology has to become more than a tool, it must become an enabler, a concept and a mind-set. The aim being to allow us to become knowledgeable  in digital literacies in order to becoming knowledge able and apply new skills in our everyday lives.  Aiming to have the confidence to create, evaluate, analyse and apply these new skills.

Cristina then described the digital learning and teaching strategy for Scotland in 4 quadrants, highlighting its relevance to each:

  • Develop Skills – Educators, Skills and Confidence
  • Improve Access – Learners, Access
  • Empower – Leaders, Drive Innovation
  • Enhance – Curriculum and Assessment

Cristina developed this by explaining the importance of critical digital literacy. By applying these skills we can recognise the Internet as a place to access knowledge networks. The skills also allow us to use free online tools like Wikipedia – but take them at face value. Users also need to be aware that employers may now routinely Google for information about applicants to find out more about them. This is one reason why we should all be aware of our digital identity (persona) and what we say online.

One key message we took away from this session was to try and mirror users’ online behaviours when providing information online. So if they’re used to searching trip advisor – try and present information in a similar format.

Basic Digital Skills & Information Literacy
Beth Murphy, One Digital Project Officer, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
@betty_murphy @digiscot
Beth gave a very clear and interesting presentation on the work SCVO is doing to tackle inequality by equipping individuals with basic digital skills. SCVO’s One Digital initiative was also highlighted.

Having the skills to apply our knowledge of digital skills in every aspect of daily life, particularly in the workplace we must be able to find, evaluate, use and manage information that is valued by employers.  We must be confident when working online and be able to know which information we can trust to ensure that it is fit for purpose.    Once we have source our information and selected the appropriate material we must be able to keep up to date with any further developments.  We must think about our digital presence – be safe and ensure that we bear in mind that anyone can put information on the web , emphasising the importance of selecting appropriate material or evidence to help support decision making.

Beth then focused on the Basic Digital Skills Framework – a really valuable resource which can be used by individuals and organisations to help people to assess and develop their digital skills. Another resource worth checking out is Doteveryone. Created by Martha Lane Fox to understand and address the moral and social challenges the Internet presents, in order to help make life fairer and simpler for everyone in the UK. Beth finished by outlining SCVO’s future plans which include:

Meet The Hackers
Gerry Grant and Adam Rapley, Ethical Hacking Consultants, Scottish Business Resilience Centre
The best session I’ve ever attended on cyber security – Gerry and Adam’s entertaining reality check on cyber security had many attendees vowing they were going to update passwords and be more aware about protecting their data.

The Scottish Business Resilience Centre offers business services including security assessments, footprinting (finding someone’s digital footprint) and training on cyber security. There is more information on this in SBRC’s resources. They presented many tips to help us secure our data – some of which we hadn’t considered before:

  • Always back up your data
  • Never click a link on an email unless you know who it’s from and what it is. Mouseover the sender to reveal the email address it came from.
  • System updates matter – always take the upgrade when prompted
  • Use strong alpha-numeric passwords and include symbols. A space also counts as symbol – though very few people use it
  • Use different password for different accounts
  • Or use passphrases instead of a passwords. These are harder for hackers to find and may be easier for you to remember. An example of creating and remembering a good passphrase
  • Also consider password managers such as Lastpass and 1password
  • Use two factor authentication when offered – e.g. Google accounts
  • Check the privacy settings on your social media accounts
  • Be aware that social media accounts are totally public by default, and can include personal details such as your location unless you make them private (or at least turn location off)
  • Be wary when using free public wifi. You could be connecting to a fake wifi network hackers have set up to intercept your data. Make sure the URL of the wifi network starts with https. Turn off wifi and click on forget network when you’re finished using it
  • Use to find wifi networks


Paul Gray and Morag Higgison
December 6, 2016

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7 new eLearning courses from the Scottish Government Library

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New resources from the SQA

Digital Learner Guides
Anyone interested in the Scottish Government’s Digital Participation work may be interested to know the SQA have developed a suite of 19 training videos to help people with some common online activities from carrying out a search to using social media, playing games, booking tickets, shopping and more.

Check them out at

Ushare is a collection of links to open learning resources that have been recommended by lecturers, teachers, training providers and learners that support SQA’s qualifications.  Includes a wide range of subjects including adult literacies.

Paul Gray
April 7, 2016

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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

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#lilac14 – notes from this year’s LILAC

We (Jenny Foreman & Paul Gray) attended the 10th LILAC (Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference) hosted by Sheffield Hallam University from 23rd-25th April 2014.  Watch this ‘Happy 10th Birthday LILAC!’ video to see what LILAC is all about.

“Information literacy skills are the skills to take advantage of our huge information overload” – Paul Zurkowski on the 40th anniversary of information literacy (1974 -2014).


Networking at LILAC

Here’s our summary of the action, followed by our pick of the presentations:

Key takeaways from the sessions we attended:

Jade Kelsall: Great expectations: a team approach to creating interactive online skills resources
See (My Learning Essentials) @jadekelsall @mlemanchester
Storyboards and session Prezi links:
Involve team in all stages of creating resources. From skeleton plan to storyboarding to launch and regular feedback. Always identify learning objectives. Storyboarding takes the longest to do but well worth it as a good story board saves time in the long run. Manchester uses ARTICULATE for storyline.Their feedback survey feeds into the materials so they take all feedback on board.

Susan Halfpenny: Contextualising your literature search using the Contextagon
The Contextagon is a tool for getting students to think about their research question. Can be adapted to different sectors.
Contextagon tweets
Also see

Joanne Keleher: An investigation into student use of LibGuides: Do they want fries with that?
Libguides. Launched in 2007 by SpringShare. These are the most popular web publishing guides for libraries.
Session presentation:

Jonathan White: What does digital literacy mean for information literacy practitioners? Business as usual or a disruptive force? And how compatible are they?
Jonathan is writing a book on Digital Literacy skills for Further Education. @jonwhite82
Suspect we’re all looking at Digital Literacy from different angles. Derby has an Information Literacy Framework. We played a game in groups. “A digitally literate person is…An information literate person is… “ Both involve critical thinking. They could both be subsets of each other. You can’t be digitally literate if you aren’t digitally literate. And you can’t be digitally literate without being information literate Context is everything. Who we are talking about and why we’re talking about IL and DL.
Jonathan White’s book – these 5 terms are what makes Digital Literacy: digital inclusion, embracing social media/digital tools, creating a digitally skilled workforce, encouraging learner creativity, developing new approaches to teaching. The definitions: we need to show DL’s relevance to IL and vice versa. BCS 2013 Digital Literacy definition similar.  DL = digital tools, knowledge and critical thinking and social engagement. Themes: employability, online courses, branding (do we call it IL or DL?). Roles are merging between teachers and librarians but librarians expert in IL and DL. Engagement and collaboration a priority. We need to give space for librarians to be creative with information literacy, and digital tools allow that.

Keynote: Liz Barnes ‘Teaching in the 21st century’
Information literacy and collaboration are both themes which are to be used a lot at this conference as well as in the  21st century. We’ve all allowed technology to become mysterious, we need to understand Heartbleed for example. We all need to understand code and coding. We need to understand our iPhones and laptops. Not everyone needs to be a programmer but we need to understand what code is and what it does. Stop it all becoming an oligarchy of Google and Amazon!

40 years of Information Literacy and a video address from Paul Zurkowski.

This is a call to action for IL advocates and librarians to develop universal training skills. Paul described the Information Action Coalition: a global network of local organisations to support a coalition of members in extending university information literacy training (9min 30sec). Paul’s talk describes a world wide programme of information literacy training for citizens, employability and to protect democracy.

Keynote: Alison Head

  • Use video to get short instruction/messages out to your audience
  • Librarians are fundamentally trainers and educators
  • PIL research: Context is king. Language is most important  as  per Wittgenstein.
  • 3 ‘C’s for research most important – convenient, close at hand, current.

Wikipedia is most important too and should be added to training materials.
CoPILOT: Community of Practice for Information Literacy Online Teaching

Nancy Graham and Jane Secker: From local to global: sharing good practice in information literacy.
@msnancygraham @jsecker
Using Open Educational Resources to share training materials

Jess Haigh: IL on a shoestring-using a ‘whole team’ approach to developing in-house resources.
Involved the whole team to create a murder mystery tour of the library for induction (inc video). Very cheap to produce. Only available at, but would put this online of they did it again.

Leah Emary and Clare McCluskey: Little and Often: Exploring the Potential of Information Literacy Mini-Lessons
@LeahEmary @librarygirl79
Bite-sized learning. Frequent and often best approach as people have short attention spans and need learning re-inforced.
Presentation at
Used Moodle to deliver 60 second ‘information literacy shorts’

Sarah McNicol: Information Flow: An integrated model of applied information literacy.  ITEC (used in English schools so far).

  1. ASK
  3. EXPLORE (find the information)
  4. IMAGINE (dream activity)
  5. MAKE
  6. MAP (like any visual resemblance – a mindmap)
  8. SHOW (present what you’ve got to your audience)
  • You can use any of the above in any order to create your own model.
  • You can repeat it again and again until you find all your material.
  • It’s a flow, not discreet activities.
  • Lots of collaboration involved in creation of Information Flow model.
  • It encourages people’s engagement with information. It uses resources flexibly.

Alan Carbery: Online inquiry-based information literacy instruction: designing and delivering a blended IL programme

  • Don’t create a separate IL session or module but create one that slots into all of the modules that others in your organisation are delivering.
  • Students have confidence in an online environment so they’re much more likely to contribute.
  • Student discussions ‘went like a bomb online’.
  • Good for the librarian team as they can collaborate and become better teachers and trainers in information skills.

Andrew Whitworth: Dialogism, Mikhail Bakhtin and Information Literacy @DrewWhitworth1

  • We make judgements about information every day.
  • Bakhtin sees literacy applied to both verbal and non verbal conversation.
  • Literacy is context specific.
  • POWER and AUTHORITY are missing in the theories of information literacy.
  • Librarians need to steward the information literacy landscape.
  • Don’t just look for IL as the library defines it. We need to broaden our horizons and see IL as broader.
  • Join research areas in organisations, not just offer Library support.
  • This conference is a RESEARCH conference not an IL one for example.
  • Offer expertise, facilitate experience…. But always in context.

Michelle Schneider: The Student Guide to Social Media: a case study in collaboration.
Involved a small team to work on different aspects. Collaborated with others in other work areas. Look at people’s strengths and then work together with set tasks.

Michelle Schneider: Digital Dates

  • Simple idea – short informal talks – 20 mins presentation, 10 mins Q & A
  • I session per month often lunchtimes. Get others in organisation to write them not just librarians.
  • ‘Learning in the Digital Age’ was the chosen title of the monthly sessions.
  • Used the JISC definition of needing digital skills in life.
  • ‘Thinking about your Online Presence’: ‘Making the most of Twitter;’ ‘Digital technologies for collaborative working.’ Think of engaging titles!
  • Found that people more likely to attend multiple sessons if short.

David Parkes and Alison Pope: An ID&AL loop
Feedback loop.  As soon as students had to book sessions, they were much more popular.

  • Aim was to increase student attendance for study skills so advertised session as ‘How to get a better grade’ session.
  • Generic sessions didn’t work whereas embedded sessions did.
  • Alison suggested putting badging into all their courses and sessions and it worked.
  • Alison suggested put ‘badging’ on the HR appraisal system so the whole organization buys into the skills sessions.
  • Guides branded as “making the most of…”
  • Students preferred to receive feedback on their own – not in front of others
  • Considering Open Badges for personal feedback in the future

Keynote: Kate Arnold: The information professional has got to evolve, but how?
Background on the work of the US Special Libraries Association:
Free report: The Evolving Value of Information Management

  • IFLA Report shows that trends are: Lifelong learning, Transparency, Technology and Work,
  • FT & SLA research –
  • Need to understand and respond to organisation’s drivers
  • Need to build relationships including ones at the top
  • Getting to grips with social media is most important. Remember it’s part of CPD!
  • SLA and competencies are being updated.
  • Understanding and applying information tools and technologies are most important.

Solveig Kavli and Eli Heldaas Seland: Empowering Students to Critical Thinking
Sok & Skriv (Search & Write)
Search & Write is for all students who want to learn more about information gathering and academic writing, independent of institution and subject area. Search & Write has four main parts: searching, reading, writing, sources and referencing.

Andrew Walsh: Playing with information literacy
Used Videoscribe to create this
Making games for libraries blog post
Also check out the Bibliobouts Project

Andrew’s points on gamification were:

  • Taking ideas from games (scores, competition, rules of play) and applies them to other areas of activity. Eg learning
  • Learning objectives are the most important thing when making a game.
  • Make your printed game material look professional. Get them printed at a print shop.

Clare Scott and Amy Collins: Strategic proposal for an embedded information literacy curriculum

  • Need to ensure your elearning is taken up and promoted by your HR and learning department  as part of your organisation’s induction.
  • Watch your language. Call it ‘research skills’ not ‘library skills’.

Lots for us to consider and look into for the Scottish Government Library – watch this space!  We’ll leave the last word to Andrew Whitworth, who summed up our approach to information literacy when he stated “Information literacy is for all, and anyone can teach it”.

Jenny 1

Jenny at LILAC


Paul at LILAC

Jenny Foreman and Paul Gray
3rd August 2014

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Information and Digital Literacy in the SG Library

As civil service librarians we need to keep informed about what the Scottish and UK Governments are doing as regards “digital”. Firstly, because it’s an integral part of our jobs to be aware so that we can thereby play a part in the process of providing information and support evidence based policies. Secondly, we’re interested for professional reasons, to keep up to date with the information and digital age and finally, digital literacy is a component of information literacy, something all the SG librarians are involved in daily.

Digital skills are mentioned in the UK Government’s “Civil Service Reform Plan 2012” for example. “The Civil Service needs to have the right digital skills embedded at every level.” In the SG Library we’ve chosen to interpret this through our information skills training programme where we deliver a wide variety of awareness sessions on social media, digital skills, collaboration and engagement, all of which we can tailor to particular work areas and teams. Likewise, if the Scottish Government is aiming to “ensure Scotland becomes a world class digital nation by 2020” and seeking to engage the public in ‘Scotland’s Digital Dialogue”, then SG staff need to have those skills and abilities too. This is where we aim to help. (Incidentally there is SG training available, besides SG Library training which provides other digital skills training such as web publishing, for example).

Up till now it seems that the digital participation debate has been somewhat sidetracked by access and infrastructure issues. Now the emphasis is slowly moving towards how to make use of these digital technologies and the importance and key role of public libraries and their skilled staff in doing so. In October 2012, I went along to a Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals Scotland (CILIPS) event Digital Learning in Libraries where Colin Cook, the SG’s Head of Digital Participation, outlined the ‘‘Scottish Government Digital Strategy’’. The public librarians attending soon put the emphasis firmly on the training, guidance and support that public libraries will be required to provide (at a cost), a role that they have been fulfilling successfully for some years now, regarding IT and information skills.

At the same time the SG librarians have not only been engaging internally with staff via our training and other services but over the years we’ve been collaborating and benefiting from the partnership, knowledge and expertise of numerous information literacy specialists and advocates, such as John Crawford, Christine Irving who originally founded ‘The Scottish Information Literacy Project’ and more recently set up an online information literacy community of practice, “Information skills for a 21st Century Scotland”. The community of practice was formally launched in June 2012 at the CILIPS annual conference in Dundee where we held discussions about what work the community of practice would seek to achieve, and recruited some facilitators for all sectors: schools, further and higher education, public libraries and the workplace.

I’ll be writing a separate blog post shortly on information literacy and the community of practice “Information skills for a 21st Century Scotland” but until then please take a look and sign up if you’d like to join!

Jenny Foreman
March 3, 2013