Playful Learning for Information Literacy


Teaching information literacy in English schools is a challenge for many school librarians because it is not incorporated as part of the statutory National Curriculum or even a feature in most examination board syllabi. However, we also know information literacy is perceived as an essential set of competencies by employers and higher education as life skills. So is there a way of teaching these skills formally, informally or just plain sneakily and to lead students and staff towards engagement?

I decided to write Playing Games in the School Library during lockdown when I had time and space to research the topic thoroughly. I felt that rather than a “how to” manual I would try and demonstrate the pedagogical theory that lies behind the success of game-based lessons and gamification. To me, it seemed important as well to draw on the expertise of international school librarians who are more involved in inquiry-based approaches to teaching and learning. Facet Publishing had contacted me previously and identified my book concept as a gap in the market since they were aware of the game-based learning online course I had already written for the School Library Association. So I was all set!

Many school librarians assume that for this type of learning they will need expensive resources and complex technology and I wanted to address this false perception in my book. I am all too aware of limited budgets, out of date hardware with scant capacity, stringent filtering by IT departments and more – all barriers faced by school librarians. For my book I collected case studies from using pen and paper, the simplest of slide shows, live games as well as whizzy apps and software – even coverage of teaching digital literacy when you do not have access to a computer!

I have included ideas for creativity such as adapting commercial products to encompass personal learning and realising different ways to use apps to what was intended by the designer. The book considers how as librarians we can avoid the pitfalls of using games as a gimmick but to understand how careful, thoughtful design can lead students to successful learning outcomes. Information literacy can be brought to life through such initiatives with real world simulations and experiences.

The final chapters address the importance of impact both in terms of how the school library is perceived and also how school library staff might choose to work with teachers, support staff, senior leaders, governors and parents using this approach – having impact on the whole school community. That said many of the ideas in the book could easily be adapted for higher education or public library environments too.

Playing Games in the School Library ISBN: 9781783305339 is available from Facet Publishing

This link gives full details of the chapter headings and content. I am also very grateful to educationalist Richard Gerver, President of the School Library Association for writing a witty foreword, and to those endorsing my book, including ILG deputy chair, Rosie Jones, and ex-committee member, Andrew Walsh.

CILIP members are entitled to a 35% discount. If you are not a CILIP member you can still get a 25% discount by adding the code DISCOUNT25 to your Facet order form

Happy reading and happy playing!

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