Instant Ideas and Collaboration

Summary – 26th June: Information Literacy & Needs

Tuesday’s chat included discussion of the distinctions between different types of literacy, suggestions of how information literacy can be embedded in the curriculum, and questions over whether libraries will be able to continue to take this forward in times of budget cuts and staff cuts.

(We have gone back to the old-style summaries for now because we received quite a bit of feedback indicating the Storify archives are difficult to scan through quickly. However we know a lot of you liked being able to see the actual tweets, so we’ve got our thinking caps on again to come up with a way of summarising/archiving that is quicker than copying and pasting into a blogpost, easier to read than a Storify and provides access to the raw tweets. Any suggestions would be most appreciated!)

Q1) How would you define information literacy?

  • the ability to get, manage and use information for your needs. It doesn’t matter its origin (internet, books… )
  • having the skills to search for, retrieve and evaluate information
  • how aware people are of how to use information
  • knowing that you need the info in the 1st place is part of it. Knowing where to search for info, evaluate & present it
  • applying the information is an important part too
  • ACRL’s definition: “…seeking, evaluating, managing information”
  • literacy = symbolic communication
  • relationship of IL & critical thinking: Information Literacy=Hershey’s Kiss, Critical Thinking=Peanut Butter…together=PB cup!

Q2) What information needs do your library users have?

  • pupils and teachers seeking a wide range of info on many different levels.
  • HE: where to find the information, what search strategy to use
  • Find answers to their questions but also realize how the process of finding those answers transfers to future needs.
  • The ability to articulate their needs
  • sometimes what they ask for is nothing to do with what they really need.
  • it can be hard to quantify users’ needs, some of our students are completely IT-phobic & need really basic support to get started – some of them are really upfront, others need a bit of detective work
  • I also work in a public library where there really seems to be no support for IL
  • The most common: How do I search in the catalogue? Are there other libraries on the Internet? Where can I find this? (In a university library)
  • The most common questions I received were all related to finding things in the library’s resources or somewhere else
  • I’ve noticed at work that many users feel lost in the library! Helped them a lot to search first in the library
  • I think we often assume that people know the basics about lib use & we focus on more complex skills
  • it’s important to remember that some users haven’t used libraries before,so dnt hve basic skills of finding stock on the shelves
  • In university library, need especially to be able to verify that the info is from a reliable source (not just Googled!)
  • In a school library the difficulty is getting them away from only using Google and Wikipedia.
  •  It’s dependent on their level of study, but ultimately we try to provide them with info skills to increase their employability #uklibchat
  • apart from academic info my students need info on housing, visas, benefits, course problems – everyday infolit needed too

Q3) Does your library offer any information literacy training?

  • In my last job at a library school, I was the responsible for literacy sessions for children & teachers – sessions aimed to show them the library, to tell them how it was organised, the rules, the materials, how to search in the catalogue
  • Yes, but they are very tailored to specific assignments- I’d like them to encourage personal research and IDEAS!
  • adult education use the suites for comp courses, libs at moment though part of ukonline (centres) – all v much beginner stuff
  • we are mainly reactive unfortunately! we get the odd hour here and there
  • we offer finding journal articles, users are shown how to search, thinking about sources, search techniques
  • I will given an opportune moment introduce a reader to online resources, WorldCat & other OCLC resources, OpenLibrary, etc.
  • We’re currently developing info lit classes that are based around case studies- it’s all about employability!
  • I will usually actually spend more time introducing staff to online resources and tools

Q4) Have you ever been responsible for preparing literacy sessions in your library? How was the experience?

  • Oh, the time constraints! So much to teach with a desire to focus on active learning but not enough time…
  •  I wish I had!! #publiclibrariesneedtogettheirskateson 😉
  • I have devised and taken IL lessons but they are better incorporated into a real piece of research than in isolation.
  • We have quite a good induction offer for basic library use but are reliant on academic staff to give us their class time – then of course the students have to show up.! We have a poorly attended workshop called Skills for assignments which has a bit IL
  • Teaching” reading skills is a pt. of contention–to Teach or not to Teach?– in US pub. libs. What about UK pub. libs?
  • In prev. role I’d started doing #infolit/research skills sessions for P7-S1 transition. Went well, but now changed job…

Q5) Do people find it hard to differentiate between info skills and info literacy when training users?

  • I haven’t done any user training yet, but I often find myself using ‘info skills’ and ‘info lit’ interchangeably in conversation.
  • Some media skills (e.g. computer & web) complement information literacy teaching
  • at Sheffield IL is a graduate attribute shef.ac.uk/sheffieldgradu…
  •  there is actually research that shows it is the IL undergraduates who often go on to complete postgraduate quals
  • in HE students don’t understand what we mean by info literacy
  • often seems to be confusion between use of terms ‘information literacy’ and ‘research skills’
  • they come in not understanding a lot of things 😉 I think this means we need to educate them about what IL is
  • I agree, info literacy doesn’t really mean anything outside of the information community
  • Agreed! There’s no point in using the term with our students- they wouldn’t have a clue!
  • as long as they understand the concept, the term used doesn’t really matter, buzzwords and phrases come in & out of fashion anyway!
  • I think info skills and info lit are intrinsically linked, I’m not sure it’s helpful to separate the concepts from each other
  • Both are linked but the purpose is different. You can’t find information if you don’t know how to use a computer

Q6) What’s the difference between information literacy & digital literacy?

  • info lit: google.co.uk/search?q=defin… – digital literacy: google.co.uk/search?q=defin…
  •  Is digital literacy a subset of information literacy or a different area?
  • think digital literacy & info literacy overlap; DL includes social use; info is not just digital! (people, images ..)
  • I think it is a subset – defined by the digital technology used in finding and handling info.
  • digital literacy is more media skills, info lit the traditional skills of a student & public?, may use dig lit skills
  •  I would say different because involves things like social networking, not necessarily information

Q7) How important is info lit and digital lit skills teaching in schools?

  • I’ll tell from experience: quite important. Children make the habit and it lasts forever. Children are more receptive
  • If all schools had a school library and qualified lib’n, perhaps more students would arrive at uni already info literate!
  • yes indeed! need more qualified librarians & school libraries
  • I worked at two schools lib. for a short time but it was worthly!
  • Very important. It should be integrated in all research based lessons.
  • Sadly many teachers don’t recognise it.
  • And children like putting things to the test, it’s a game for them. At least, at my previous work, they were so!! Children love computers!!! So..it’s just perfect for us librarians!!!
  • Agree, these are fundamental skills with wide-ranging benefits
  • There’s much stuff on the Internet shared by other professionals, mainly for schools initiatives

Q8) What standards influence your info lit instruction?

  • I mainly learnt at work…I found useful guidelines in journals, on the Internet and some theory at Library School. A secret: your creativity enhances all…
  • Don’t know if people have seen therightinformation.org yet – Community of Practice and archive of the SILF project. #infolit
  •  The SLA guidelines seem like a useful resource for info lit teaching in school libraries j.mp/MQyiiX
  • I think there aren’t standards because you should adapt to your users but there’re guidelines, tips…
  • BL IL projects blds.ids.ac.uk/global-project… – with regards Q8, the national initiatives are standards effectively, else?
  • I wouldn’t say they’re standards but I’d say they are general guidelines aimed esp. at networks – I think that a standard it’s like a rule that everyone must use it. e.g catalogation
  • yes agree, I don’t like using the word “standards” for things like 7 Pillars or ACRL or “Big 6”
  • I wonder is feedback from users important in this?

Q9) How do you persuade teachers/academics/staff that use your library to embed information literacy in teaching/training/CPD?

  • Seamless integration & position skills as benefiting teachers (IL skills=higher quality work=less time grading low quality work)
  •  I find that most depts concentrate on students doing research quickly with little attention to quality of info etc. – So to answer Q9, with great difficulty. I haven’t managed to persuade any teachers to let me teach IL skills to their students
  • It has to come from the top with leadership from Senior Management.
  • agree that support from the top, inclusion of IL in strategic plans etc useful in persuading
  • It would certainly help. School staff seem to be generally unaware of what IL is, or even that it exists
  • ‘culture’! as the unofficial way that work gets done in an organisation
  • I think there is some research at the moment on ‘the missing link’ between info literacy / library use and student performance
  • I saw at my Univ. that lib. staff were much focused on teaching researchers things like endnote, refworks…
  •  Give your workplace examples of good practice from other universities, and how it’s improved students research?

Q10) How can we make literacy an ongoing skill that needs addressing at every age, and all levels?

  • we need a government that believes in it, and is willing to put the money into it for public libs and in schools.
  • as we move from info. as scarce resource to an abundance of info., I would like to see the public libraries doing a lot more
  • agreed, public libraries could really help to bridge the gap
  • alas redundancies in public libraries makes this unlikely 😦 barely have staff, let alone qualified staff
  • yes, I’m thinking ideals but it needs the support of the government as you say
  • I’ve heard of university libraries working with schools, I think more of that would be really good
  • To “mainstream information literacy” as the National Forum on Information Literacy puts it, must partner with community orgs & find members at point of need.
  • “at point of need” is key here, no one wants to be trained in info lit unless can we demonstrate way it will benefit
  • What points of need do you suggest? I’m thinking bust stops, at the Dr.’s, at the voting polls,…
  •  I was thinking about times rather than places, e.g. have seen great things in HE tying into student assignments etc
  • why not both, right? Be there both where and when they need it…
  • introduce a whole school info lit programme in every schl. Persuaded a primary to try it very excited!
  • Raising awareness and the impact of new technologies on society it’s an advantage because everyone knows it’s essential to be able to use a computer so it’s a good opp. to introduce inf. literacy
  • libraries need to spend more time looking at how to get grants/funds to fulfill this! like from Bill Gate’s Foundation
  •  The EU was developing a programme for the Knowledge Society and I think they give grants & subsidies, and the local authorities in Madrid got a grant for developing library schools here. They created a network. Thanks to that grant I could work at a library school last year!! I don’t know how long the EU will be giving this grant and what will happen after that.
  • at the end of the day it is librarians who are experts in information lit., the public will have expectations of them for society
  • no. The problem is the public in general have no clue what librarians CAN DO for them. They have no expectations. Many times I’ve had chats with people outside of library sphere, who don’t see beyond the book borrowing function
  • chattering middle classes maybe, but on the whole you might be right – librians have a duty tho to inform the public
  • don’t think can dismiss as “chattering middle class” they’re educated ppl who don’t get it. and if they don’t..
  • if we work hard, I think we’ll find our place in society
  •  it’s frustrating because it’s knowing what must be done, but getting the money to do it. What is realistic and viable?

Q11) With the severe staffing shortages and cuts to training budgets in libraries how are we going to carry this forward?

  • I mentioned this before, but culture, the unofficial way work gets done in an organisation (if any1 has the motivation 4 it!)
  • We can’t. Don’t think you can cut staff, and cut development and expect a good service, that’s ToryThink

Other thoughts

  • Is “information literacy” a subset of “literacy”?
  • this model senseandreference.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/lit… seems to suggest we can talk about literacy in terms of media skills and domain skills
  • how do we persuade the public libraries to brush the dust off and introduce some serious information and digital literacy!! The vision of the 1964 Pub Libs Act was as more popular media became available, they would then focus on higher education needs ??
  • did anyone mention the info. lit. skills librarians need this evening? v. much an issue!
  • I don’t think so, but it’s a v. important point. I don’t think my MA has covered this as much as it should.

Resources shared during the chat (a lot!)


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This entry was posted on June 27, 2012 by in Discussion Summaries and tagged .


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