Scottish Government Library blog

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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