Scottish Government Library blog

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

#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