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the website of Katie Fraser
a librarian with a PhD in Learning Sciences

Monday, 6 April 2009

LILAC Conference

Toy dragon reading the LILAC 2009 Conference PackAt the start of last week I went to LILAC, the Librarian's Information Literacy Conference, for which I was lucky enough to win a student award. The growth of information literacy in academic libraries particularly drew me in, plus two of the key themes of the conference were emerging technologies and supporting research, which reflect my interests quite well. Overall, LILAC was a great mix of research and practitioner accounts, particularly in the HE sector, so was ideal for me to get a good understanding of best practice.

One of the most interesting themes of the conference for me was the idea of doing information literacy without saying information literacy. I think that generally people outside the information professions don't really know what the 'information' in 'information professions' means. Whether we within the information professions agree with what it means is another blogpost entirely! More than one speaker (such as Jonathan Westaway and Moira Bent) mentioned needing students to acquire habits rather than skills, expressing that it's not really the ability to spot the seven pillars that counts, but making effective use of information so automatic that it might not even be articulated. Keynote Melissa Highton suggested that maybe digital literacy might be a more inspirational phrase for non-librarians, and in the final session of the conference Claire Packham from the British Library mentioned that the major factor in increasing attendance at the Information Literacy sessions in their new reader education programmes was stopping calling it information literacy.

On the other hand, if we're not saying information literacy we hide the message that certain key skills transfer across contexts. Perhaps the solution is to make the information professions synonymous with information literacy practices in the minds of the public so they automatically see new contexts of information use as under our remit. I think librarianship suffers from the idea that librarians are experts on the resources under the library's roof (physical or digital). An awareness that we are experts on doing information literacy even if we aren't saying information literacy requires us to focus on our practices rather than our products. Therefore the importance of the information professions acting as advocates and implementers of information literacy practices is what I'll be taking away from LILAC.

Photograph of the Cardiff University dragon reading the LILAC 2009 Conference Pack taken by Katie Fraser.

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