Palace of Westminster

Information Literacy through an Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion lens: Information Scrutiny for Parliamentary Research (Information Scrutiny part 3)

In this guest blog post, Anne-Lise Harding shares some of the practitioner research she has carried out during her first year working in the House of Commons library with Select Committees, and the specificities of their Information Literacy needs. Anne-Lise is Senior Liaison Librarian at the House of Commons and the Government Libraries Sector Representative for the Information Literacy Group.

Anne-Lise Harding
Anne-Lise Harding

In my first couple of posts for the Information Literacy Group blog (part 1 and part 2); I discussed grappling with Information Literacy needs of highly skilled researchers and the specificities involved in working for Select Committees.

I left my last post at a cliff-hanger, teasing how I managed to anchor my Information Literacy training in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). My reflection on how to differentiate from “standard” Information Literacy training led me to explore research around Select Committees and how they have evolved through the years.

The Select Committee Liaison Report “The effectiveness and influence of the select committee system” from 2019 stresses the importance of diversity in the inquiry process especially in terms of witness participation. UPEN echoed this in its report “Opening Up Parliament” this month, particularly stressing the permanent adoption of hybrid proceedings where witnesses can appear remotely.

I felt EDI was addressed at several points in the inquiry process but not through the background and ongoing research performed, usually, by Select Committee Specialists.

Approaching Information Literacy in the workplace from an EDI angle allowed me to:

  • Support the organisational goals of Parliament
  • Provide a “hook” to attract colleagues
  • Further thinking about research in practice and its impact

I find it important to stress that fellow library and information professionals have developed a similar approach, often as part of decolonising movements. Towards the end of developing the modules, I caught up with the librarians at Goldsmiths University to swap notes on how we tackled different.

Earlier on in my project; I highlighted the different stages information literacy-related activities during an inquiry and drew out five focuses to articulate modules around:

  • Identifying information need
  • Searching for information
  • Assessing information
  • Manage information needs
  • Communicating information

I was keen to define straight away what the five modules fitting under those focuses would be.

After some consultation, I settled on:

  1. Research biases: an exploration of cognitive and technological biases affecting the discovery of diverse information. This is delivered to groups to encourage discussions and knowledge sharing.
  2. Finding diverse sources: presentation and discussion of diverse bibliographic sources and how to find more. This is delivered to groups to encourage discussions and knowledge sharing.
  3. Diverse critical appraisal: a dive into what fakes news and post-truth politics means for research and how to methodically appraise information with EDI in mind. This is delivered to groups to encourage discussions and knowledge sharing.
  4. Diverse current awareness: a more personal look at how to set up methods for current awareness that reflect current and ongoing developments across diverse sources in the chosen policy area of the individual signed up for this 1:1 session.
  5. Inclusive citation: a talk highlighting the principles of inclusive citation and discussion about how this is applied in the research work of Select Committees.

With all modules defined and scoped out; all that was left was the development of the course content; taking into account remote delivery at the time and potential for hybrid delivery in future.

In my next blog post I will talk about the collaborative development process used in order to assess the relevance of the modules and enhance the content with concrete examples.


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