A vacancy has arisen on the Information Literacy Group committee for a Public Libraries representative to share their professional knowledge of their sector. We are
Shared experience with other sectors
The diversity of FE provision leads to overlap with the experience in other sectors. As in schools, there is the challenge of teachers’ uncertain understanding of the term “information literacy”, along with the struggle to get it recognized in a curriculum which is driven by assessment for qualifications. The development of information literacy is all too easily assumed to exist within main course teaching, or is simply tested rather than explicitly taught.
Colleges are assessed via Ofsted, just like schools, and the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework for FE is designed to assess learning as much as teaching. However, the actual process of an inspection seldom leads to a report that acknowledges the contribution of library staff or services to learner success. Reports seem to assume that teachers asking learners to research is sufficient to address the need for information retrieval skills.
The FE sector provides a significant number of Higher Education qualifications, usually in vocational subjects. These are often taken up learners who have progressed through the college environment, or who are returning to education after a long absence. These groups often lack academic confidence and need particular support. The profile of information literacy is much clearer to teachers at these higher levels and they are more likely to liaise with librarian colleagues about information literacy (bryan). The FE in HE interest groups, and their partners in HE institutions, consequently form a strong community of IL practitioners.
In contrast, ESOL, basic skills and special needs present a different kind of demand where social needs and life skills development are met. For these groups, Information literacy is closely aligned to language support and literacy, particularly through reading development and promotion, as in public libraries.