Talk to us! Two upcoming participatory events

Conference season is nearly upon us once again, and Jane and I are delighted to have had a proposal accepted for LILAC 2015. Along with Merinda Kaye Hensley and Sarah McNicol and Emily Shields of MMU, we’ll be giving a symposium on the relevance of IL models and theories to practice. The symposium format means that it should be a highly participatory and hopefully a lively discussion, and I’m very excited to try this new format!

Here’s the abstract:

In recent years there have been an increasing number of IL models and theories developed, for example Inflow (McNicol, 2014), ANCIL (Secker and Coonan, 2014), and the revised ACRL Framework (ACRL, 2014), however what relevance do they have for librarians teaching information literacy? Do they provide a valuable framework to inform the overall strategy of IL teaching? Do they help librarians plan teaching sessions and in collaborating with disciplinary faculty? Or are they something most practitioners only take a passing interest in?

 The panel at this symposium will argue that IL models and theories are essential to inform the teaching that goes on in institutions and they will each present short case studies of how theory and models have influenced practice in UK and US universities. The floor will then be open to participants to share their experiences and discuss the following issues:

  •  Whether institutions should underpin the teaching of information literacy with a theory or a model and if so which to choose?
  • What benefits a theory or model can bring to the practice of teaching and what problems it might cause?
  • If theories are not being used in practice, what other ways do librarians plan and evaluate what they teach now and in the future?

 Participants should expect a lively debate on the relevance of theory to practice and to explore a number of models that might be useful for practitioners. However we welcome participants to challenge the panel’s assertion that theories and models are relevant to librarians teaching IL on the ground.

Before that, on February 10, we’ll be at a CILIP event debating the motion that ‘This house believes that the role of librarian should be that of teacher’. Jane will be chairing, and Geoff Walton and I will be speaking for the motion, with Darren Smart opposing it. I’m secretly petrified of debates (well – it’s not so secret any more now …) and the fact that Darren’s Twitter bio says he’s a ‘Viking turned librarian’ isn’t helping : ) However, this promises to be a really interesting, passionately argued discussion and there will be lots of opportunity for audience questions!

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Developing a shared curriculum for student support: ALDinHE conference

Emma and I presented with Maria Bell at the ALDinHE conference in Hudderfield before Easter. Our slides are now available on SlideShare and it was a whirlwind tour of ANCIL theory, the review of undergraduate support at LSE and the recent SADL (Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy) project LSE have been working on.

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ANCIL in practice: the road less travelled

Emma and I spoke at the M25 / CILIP Information Literacy event last Friday at the British Library: Information Literacy: the road less travelled. It was the first time we’ve spoken about our ANCIL work for a few months. It was great to be back together, but also to discuss how we’ve both been building on our original research in the last year. The slides are below. ANCIL is having an impact in a number of other institutions, but the work we both continue to do in our own places of work is incredibly important. We’ve both come to see our work as a framework to underpin learning, but also possibly as a model of graduate attributes. Please do take a look at our slides below:

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Rethinking Information literacy

Emma and I presented at the ARLG / CDG West Midlands event at University of Warwick today which was about librarians as teachers. Our slides are available online :

It was our first joint keynote based on ANCIL for a while although we are both doing separate talks at the end of the month. I think we managed to pull it off quite seamlessly. Comments very welcome as we hope some of the delegates from today’s session will be checking out the resources on this blog. We would love to hear from you. Do you think information literacy can be taught or is learnt? Is it a skill or competency? And what might the role of the librarian as teacher be in the future?

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Information literacy journal club discusses ANCIL

On Wednesday 13th March at 8-9pm GMT there will be an online discussion about ANCIL hosted on the Information Literacy Journal Club. Sheila Webber and Niamh Tumelty facilitate these discussions and a few of the ANCIL team hope to be there. So if you’ve read our work and have questions for the authors, then do tune in! There should be more information on their blog shortly, with some specific reading.

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ANCIL across the Atlantic

Please excuse us while we blow our own trumpet

Please excuse us while we blow our own trumpet

We’re honoured (and excited) that ANCIL was chosen as one of four significant UK information literacy models described in detail by Justine Martin in her report, Learning from Recent British Information Literacy Models, which was submitted recently to ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education Task Force in preparation for a revision of the Standards.

Justine carried out extensive research for this report, not only studying the four IL models in great depth but also conducting interviews with 11 of the authors. The models she chose were

  • SCONUL’s 2011 revision of the Seven Pillars
  • National Information Literacy Framework Scotland
  • Information Literacy Framework for Wales

Justine’s analysis identifies a number of elements common to all four frameworks, the two most significant being “the need for holistic, flexible frameworks and information as integral to learning” (6). She writes that

The model authors are not the first to advocate for a holistic, flexible process that embeds information literacy into learning environments, but their documentation provides direction in how this paradigm, with the two interrelated categories, can be achieved. (7)

And the report notes that ANCIL is unique in explicitly including a focus on transition. Justine suggests that

The transition strands in the ANCIL model help raise awareness about instructor and employer expectations through reflection and self-assessment outcomes and activities. Furthermore, transitions are not limited to social environments; the authors also see transitions in terms of helping students move from dependent to independent learner. By outlining transitional learning outcomes, information literacy practitioners can close the gap between expectations and students’ actual skill, while increasing students’ critical thinking and cognitive skills. (21-2)

It’s incredibly exciting to see our work highlighted alongside high-profile and established frameworks, but it’s even more elating to have it explored and analysed systematically and rigorously to such a high standard. We may need to put that trumpet down now and have a glass of wine to celebrate!

Image credit: mawel on, CC BY-NC 2.0
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And now for something … well, somewhat different

lightbulbOn 25 January Jane and I took part in the ARLG Librarians As Researchers event at York St John University. For a change, we weren’t talking about ANCIL or even information literacy, as such – rather, it was an opportunity to share our experience of the research process, and invite fellow participants to think about some of the practical aspects of doing research while also holding down a day job.

You can download our handout and action plan, view the presentation, or just have a think about our 8 ‘top tips’ …

Jane and Emma’ tips for doing research in your day job

1. Find your thinking space (hint: this may involve coffee/fresh air). Where’s yours?

2. Modify your attitude to time – your research may well become your hobby! When’s your best thinking time?

3. Build a partnership: working with someone else is highly motivating, boosts your confidence, and means you can divide up the work. Who could you buddy up with?

4. Look out for funding opportunities: keep an eye on networks, JISCmail lists, and other resources and contacts. Where might you start looking?

5. Find your niche. What do you do that no-one else is doing? What do you love about your research field?

6. Develop your online identity, for greater recognition and to take part in a wider conversation. What platform(s) will you use to do this?

7. Present your ideas early: share and develop your existing resources, slides or ideas. You can present your work through so many different channels: blogs, Twitter, Slideshare, Mendeley, JORUM … What platform(s) will you use to do this?

8. Think about whether you want ‘academic’ publication in addition to the channels you’re already using to publish your ideas (see point 7). If you do: listen to your students’ questions and conversations about how to present their work and where to publish. Learning from them not only helps us offer better support, it will also make us better researchers.


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Rethinking information literacy


Our new book came out shortly before Christmas published by Facet. Emma and I were thrilled to receive our copies and it is available to buy now! The book is divided into ten chapters with an introduction, conclusion and afterward. We have contributions from a fabulous group of people, including Sarah Pavey, Geoff Walton, Jamie Cleland, Moira Bent. Clare McCluskey, Isla Kuhn, Libby Tilley, Andy Priestner, Lyn Parker, Helen Webster and Katy Wrathall. Thank you to everyone who made this book possible including John Naughton.

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Future Strategies for University and College Libraries

I presented at the Future Strategies for University and College Libraries event last week organised by Neil Stewart Associates and held in Westminster.

My presentation on Librarians as Teachers Integrated in the Curriculum is online. I was also really excited to see the event written up in the Times Higher this week. Many of the other speakers talked about the importance of collections, research support, excellent learning spaces and excellent service. I was talking about librarians as teachers and how using ANCIL, librarians can find ways to integrate information literacy into the curriculum, working with academic staff and other colleagues. This was the first leg of the ANCIL 2012/13 tour. Further dates to be announced in due course!

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ANCIL Seminar at LSE

What is information literacy?

A few weeks ago I presented a lunchtime seminar with Maria Bell to LSE Library staff and some colleagues from the Centre for Learning Technology. We were reporting on the ANCIL at LSE study that we have been undertaking with Darren Moon from CLT since the Spring. Our slides are available online, however, we are also in the process of writing up as a report to circulate internally at first.

The work had moved on a little since we presented in Finland in August, but also presenting to an internal audience meant there was a slightly different slant on the talk. In reviewing provision for undergraduate students across the institution we found there were areas of good practice. LSE is quite unusual in having a core course taken by all undergraduate students, called LSE100, Understanding the Cause of Things. However, we also found that in many departments, information literacy is not embedded in the curriculum, but offered to students on the basis of need, and often provided by central services in the form of one off workshops. We spoke to people about what they understood information and digital literacy to be, and whether they felt there was a need for this in undergraduate education. Academic and academic support staff were largely agreed that this is crucial and that students were clearly arriving in higher education with a limited understanding of what was expected of them.

There were some interesting findings about attitudes from students, who predictably were very driven by recommendations from their lecturers, reading lists and other sources in Moodle, our VLE. They also were often unaware of the expertise and help that librarians could offer them. One question I still have, is whether in the course of an undergraduate degree we can prepare students to be truly independent learners and to develop their research skills. Is this the purpose of the undergraduate degree. And if we don’t do it hear, then what does it mean for a student taking a one year’s masters course, who then needs to get up to speed so quickly. Hmmm, lots of food for thought! And look out for the report coming soon!

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