A School Librarian’s View on LILAC 2017

I was privileged to be this year’s recipient of the school library bursary to attend the LILAC conference. I urge school librarians, who have a keen interest in information literacy, to apply next year. The application took just a couple of hours to complete and I was rewarded with the most enjoyable and enriching few days to learn from other library and information professionals.

Why did I apply?

  • To increase my confidence in delivering an information literacy curriculum for our pupils
  • To learn from the experiences of other professionals outside of the school library sector
  • To develop knowledge of digital literacy as our school inspection report identified a need to provide increased opportunities for pupils to use ICT across the curriculum

I’m going to pick three sessions to outline here and discuss what I took away from each one. The LILAC conference archive is being updated with speakers’ presentations, so you can explore those in more depth at your leisure, or use my recommended yt mp3 software to listen in audio formats.

1.      Sheila Corrall and Alison Pickard. Advancing the reflective conversation in information literacy.

As a practitioner, I value reflection as an activity. My journey to and from work is often spent reflecting on the information literacy sessions I deliver or the conversations I have with students and teaching staff. It’s the time I use to make decisions about how to improve the services we offer or to work out why a session didn’t go as I had planned. Part of studying PGCE is about becoming a reflective teacher and even though I didn’t complete my teacher training all those years ago, I left the experience as a reflective practitioner. In this session, Sheila and Alison introduced to us three scaffolds for reflection which could be used with different types of learners:

  • Question prompts
  • Sentence starters
  • Visual grid

Each prompt aided the learner in reflecting on an experience. In groups, we discussed the value of each style and considered which would work best in our context. In a primary school library, I felt a combination of the visual approach with sentence starters would help young learners begin to become reflective. We also discussed the barriers to reflection: time, attitude, curriculum constraints. Having spent some time thinking about these barriers after the session, I believe strongly that learners need an opportunity to reflect individually but also with their peers. I think it is valuable to give students this time to consider their learning and allow them to learn lessons from each other. It’s in the communal process of reflecting, by seeing an issue from different angles, that a learner can come to a new understanding. I think this peer reflection time is vital not just for students but for teaching staff also.

Target 1: Build time into schemes of work to allow students to reflect on their learning.

2.     Josie Fraser. The library is open: librarians and information professionals as open practitioners. Presentation slides available here.

Josie was a LILAC keynote speaker and before this talk I thought I understood what constituted an open educational resource. But it’s not just a case of being online and free. An open educational resource requires more than just free access. To be a truly open educational resource and useful to educators, the resources need to be editable. They need to be able to: adapt them, differentiate them, embed them etc. Prior to this talk I had considered publisher made resources for book groups OERs but now I know that they don’t fulfil the criteria. If they come in PDF form, they are not designed for educators to use them how they want to.

Josie shared David Wiley’s 5Rs of Openness. Here they are:

  • ‘Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
  • Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)’.

Wiley, D. 2014. ‘The Access Compromise and the 5th R’. Available at: https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/3221 Accessed 17 April 2017.

Josie noted that TED talks are open resources and you can use them any which way that suits. (I’ve used Austin Kleon’s newspaper blackout poetry TED talk many times with students).

Target 2: Encourage SMT to develop a policy which allows staff to share their resources with fellow educators without infringing copyright. Make sure when I share a resource online, I assign an appropriate CC license and give others the flexibility to use the resource as they see best.

3.     Emily Hurt and Alison McLoughlin. Facilitating research amongst radiographers through information literacy workshops.

Emily’s session was a 30-minute overview of her ILG funded practitioner researcher project which aimed to increase the research output of radiographers in her workplace. I chose to go to this session as my MA LIS has awoken a passion for evidence-based practice and practitioner research.

There were three things which I took from Emily’s session:

  1. Emily selected radiographers as a group of Allied Health Professionals because there is a clear gap in research output and the professional body for radiographers was keen to see this developed. She strategically targeted a professional group which would benefit from the IL workshops and who were currently not being supported by the library beyond literature searching.
  2. Emily took a bottom up approach to her research. After applying for funding and reading the academic literature, she invited radiographers to an initial session where they could identify the types of information literacy sessions which they would benefit from. Rather than imposing on them a series of sessions which may not have been helpful, she sought to find out what they felt they would need. I think this approach is more likely to engage the participants as they are shaping the content.
  3. The collaborative relationship between Emily and Alison was fundamental to the success of the project as Emily had an experienced researcher to help develop the project from the initial proposal to the analysis of results.

Target 3: Consider some of my ideas for a practitioner research project and begin with some preparatory reading of the academic literature.

Final thoughts:

There is so much we can learn by sharing our ideas and experiences with others outside our sector. A new perspective can help you see things differently. I was overwhelmed by the number of librarians who spoke to me and wanted to know what our role as school librarians involves in relation to information literacy. So please, if you are doing interesting work with IL, write a case study for the Information Literacy group website: information literacy.

Investigate 23 Things for Digital Knowledge by Stephanie (Charlie) Farley (Open Education Resources Advisor, University of Edinburgh). This resource won the CREDO award it looks like a fantastic way to explore digital resources and develop your knowledge.

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