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Katie Fraser's blog and website

I'm an academic librarian, working in the UK Higher Educational sector, supporting academics and students. Prior to this, I was a researcher, working with social and learning technologies.

My interests include the application of emerging and traditional technologies, research support in libraries, learning spaces, evidence-based practice and the professional development of library and information workers.

You can find out more about more about me from the links to the left. Note that the views expressed on this website/blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other individual or organisation.

Information Literacy as a graduate attribute: Are employers getting a good deal?

January 24th, 2012

Event programme

Event programme: the mince pies were lovely.

This post is a copy of the original, hosted at the University of Leicester institutional blog at It is replicated here to preserve this blog as a central record of my professional development.

This event was a University of West London (UWL) event focusing on information literacy and its relationship to graduate attributes. Graduate attributes are qualities that a university aims for graduates to obtain (many universities have explicit lists of these expected qualities) and tend to be linked explicitly to the employability of students. With employability high on the agenda at universities I think most university libraries are keen to make sure that the value of information literate graduates is reflected in such discussions, so we were all eager to find out more.

Transport issues meant that I missed the introductory talks from the University of West London, but arrived in time for Ruth Stubbings’ talk. She got us all thinking about both the small and big picture of information literacy: what it meant to us personally, and then how it should be seen more globally. In the context of this event her broad perspective seemed very relevant, particularly her discussion of who ‘owns’ information literacy: practically I felt this was currently librarians, but the consensus was that this should be much wider, with discussion focusing on how information literacy could be ‘quality assured’ at governmental level.

Next up was Marc Forster, discussing information literacy as a graduate attribute in the context of nursing. Nursing is a profession with a heavy focus on evidence-based practice, with nurses needing to find up-to-date information on health. He had worked on a standalone module in UWL’s virtual learning environment, which is supported by nursing tutors (as first point of help) with Marc advising those tutors. Marc will be evaluating the course as part of his PhD on the experience of information literacy by nurses, the results of which I’m sure will be interesting reading.

Jason Eyre then discussed a project he’d been doing with information literacy in social work (another discipline with a focus on evidence-based practice). Jason had worked with key stakeholders in De Montfort University’s social work course to establish a mediated discussion board, intending to facilitate conversation between students (on placements and thus crossing student and practitioner boundaries), practitioners, the department, and the library. Although the discussion board received limited use, it’s development and evaluation allowed him to gather a whole range of data students’ experience of information behaviours. A particularly interesting finding was that while the academic environment encouraged written, formal and critical information seeking, the practitioner environment used verbal, informal information seeking, with a strong respect for authority. Jason concluded that ‘authentic’ tasks were needed, and that students needed to be supported in developing criticality as a verbal skill, to allow transition of evidence-based practice from the academic to practitioner environment.

The last talk was from Jo Lozinska from the University of West London’s Careers section spoke about trying to help students articulate and communicate the skills that they gained at university. She went through some application forms for graduate jobs, picking out areas where they had to demonstrate information skills, particularly problem solving and decision making skills. It was very interesting to see information literacy discussed in this context and to see someone from the ‘other side’ making these connections.

Finally, we split into groups to discuss whether we needed to reassess our information literacy teaching to make them relevant when students became graduates (short answer: yes!) and some of the issues around this. Key needs identified included making sure that the library, student development and careers gave out a consistent message.

This was a timely session with some highly thought-provoking presentations. I think my strongest resolution is to make more of an effort to think about the employment context that students will be (or, for professional courses, are) experiencing: how the information literacy support I provide will translate into that context, and how I can improve the likelihood of that translation.

USTLG Information Literacy Meeting

May 16th, 2011

This post is a copy of the original, hosted at the University of Leicester institutional blog at It is replicated here to preserve this blog as a central record of my professional development.

Programme for the day

Programme for the day

This Monday I attended the University Science and Technology Librarians’ Group (USTLG) Spring meeting on Information Literacy. It was my first USTLG meeting (regular blog readers will have gathered that we try and send at least one science librarian to each) and was at the University of Sheffield, where I studied for my MA in Librarianship. The full information literacy presentations are available on the USTLG website.

The talks fell into three themes: two on researcher support, two on outreach, and two on online tutorials, alongside a presentation from the British Standards Institution, which sponsored the lunch. I’ll tackle the talks in terms of theme, rather than in the order they occurred.

Researcher Support

Moira Bent, from the University of Newcastle, spoke about the revised version of the 7 Pillars model of Information Literacy. This model, well known in the library world, mapped the different skills an information literate person should possess. The revised model addresses some concerns which have been raised in recent years: it is no longer linear, the focus is not just on skills, and each ‘pillar’ has a simple name (Identify, Scope, Plan, Gather, Evaluate, Manage and Present).

To further increase the model’s ease of application, a ‘research lens’ has been produced: looking at which skills and attitudes researchers would find productive under each pillar. The lens draws some of its terminology from theResearcher Development Framework, the UK’s widely-endorsed model of researcher development, in order to ensure its relevance. Moira emphasised that she was keen to use other ‘lenses’ to more increase the accessibility of the model in the long-term, perhaps for schools, undergraduates, or the workplace.

Further pursuing this theme, Sheila Webber, from the University of Sheffield, spoke about the influence of PhD supervisors on information literacy. She related Brew (2001)’s model of conceptions of research and Lee (2008)’s work on conceptions of supervision to simply demonstrate how a supervisor’s views were likely to influence the types of training they directed PhD students towards. She also made the interesting point that information literacy might not look the same in every field: a small field might be relatively easy to keep up-to-date with, while other PhDs might require a broad interdisciplinary approach and need a student to access many different tools and literatures.


The two talks on outreach looked at science / technology librarians working with academic departments: one from Evi Tramatza at the University of Surrey, and one from Elizabeth Gadd at Loughborough University. Evi’s was a real success story, about the work she’d done to embed herself into the departments she supports using a focus on shared ground, pilot lectures and the support of the wider library to make sure she delivered on her promises.

Elizabeth talked about a more specific contribution she’d made towards improving teaching for a Civil Engineering literature review assignment. Elizabeth’s talk really emphasised for me how useful evidence can be in developing teaching: she’d used simple measures of the quality of the reviews before and after the teaching was introduced to demonstrate its impact, and was building upon this with other departments. You can see more of the evidence she used in Loughborough’s Institutional Repository.

Online Tutorials

Lastly, the two talks on online tutorials. The first was David Stacey, from the University of Bath, talking about the library’s role in creating an online tutorial on academic writing skills. This was a great illustration of how different specialists across the university (including the library and a Fellow from the Royal Literary Fund) had worked together to obtain funding to create this helpful resource. Unfortunately the tutorial is not currently accessible to those outside Bath (there’s some screenshots in his presentation slides) but they may produce an Open Educational Resource (OER) in the future.

The second, I already knew a little about, as Leicester is an observer on the project. This was the East Midlands Research Support Group (EMRSG), represented at USTLG by Elizabeth Martin from De Montfort University and Jenny Coombs from the University of Nottingham, who have been working together to produce a resource for researcher training. Again, this project was a triumph for collaboration, with four different universities – Loughborough and Coventry being the other key players – working together to get funding. I was really pleased to see how far the project has come since the last meeting I attended: they have developed a fantastic resource, with videos of senior researchers explaining core concepts and plenty of interactivity. Again, screenshots are available in the presentation slides right now, but the group intend to make an OER available in Jorum and Xpert in the future.

Overall, this was a great event, with good breadth, and plenty of practical ideas to bring back (particularly the focus on evidence and collaboration). I’ll look forward to my next USTLG meeting.

East Midlands Members’ Day: CILIP’s future, the WI and information literacy

March 28th, 2011

Crab apple blossom

Springtime blossoming in the East Midlands

Last Tuesday I attended the Members’ Day and Annual General Meeting of the East Midlands Branch of CILIP, the regional wing of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. It was held in Derby this year, and featured the Annual General Meeting of the branch, alongside talks from Annie Mauger, CILIP’s new Chief Executive on ‘The future structure and role of CILIP’ and Biddy Fisher, CILIP’s Immediate past President on information literacy.

As one of the project board who worked on the Conversation section of CILIP’s Defining Our Professional Future (DOPF) programme I was interested to hear Annie talk about the institution’s new approach to advocacy, identified in the DOPF Conversation Report as an area of future focus for CILIP. I’m not the only one who’s noticed that CILIP’s presence in the media has grown hugely in the last few months, and I’ll confess that I’m just a teeny bit proud that my work on DOPF contributed to this change.

The part of CILIP’s future which generated most interest around my table at Members’ Day was how advocacy for public libraries could grow to include other sectors in which information professionals work (academic, government, corporate etc.) and it was nice that Annie explicitly asked us to feed back on what we’d like to see in those areas (while reassuring us that they’re next on the agenda). Discussion around our table also focused on CILIP’s qualifications (primarily chartership), which I believe are currently under review. It was interesting to me that because of my work with CILIP I’m pretty well clued up on how such procedures work in comparison to the average member, which suggests that communication about what’s available does need to improve.

One thing I didn’t know about was that on the 8th June the National Federation of Women’s Institutes are voting on whether to make local libraries a focus of their nationwide campaigning and there were many calls for information professionals to engage with our local branches to promote the cause where possible – do check out the link for more details.

The Annual General Meeting was the usual fare, with the exception of a change in committee, from outgoing president Joan Bray to incoming president Mary Bryceland. I know there’s also a review of branches and groups going on at the moment, and there was some discussion of impending changes, but mainly of a ‘watch this space’ nature.

Finally, Biddy Fisher spoke about information literacy and its potential as a central uniting issue for CILIP members. In redistributed groups we discussed some of the issues, and agreed that information literacy was definitely a uniting concern for information professionals, no matter where we worked. We found our group task – unpacking CILIP’s definition of information literacy in simple language – quite hard. The consensus was that it was something we did so naturally ourselves that it was often hard to make explicit what we did. This contrasts with what I’ve found in universities – that librarians can be better at describing what being information literate involves than the (often highly information literate) academics we support, especially when it comes to teaching skills to students. I guess it’s a challenge for anyone! Our major conclusion was that the concept was better explained by example than by description.

I had an absolutely fabulous day – kudos to the East Midlands Branch committee for arranging it, and Annie and Biddy for making their presentations highly engaging, and giving us the opportunity to feed back on what we discussed. I’ve often been unsure what the exact role of regional branches of CILIP is, and this seemed an excellent exemplar of what they can do: bring discussion about the purpose and future of CILIP to the region, and allow engagement with profession-wide issues in a scalable way.