CILIPS East Branch Information Literacy Event – 30/01/14



Julie Sutherland, Chair of CILIP in Scotland East Branch, has written the following blog post about last month’s CILIPS Information Literacy event, held on 30th January 2014 at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. These are her reflections on the event.

Information Literacy: Part One: 30th January 2014

I was greatly inspired by this afternoon’s session on Information Literacy at the National Library of Scotland. It was the first in a series of CPD being offered by CILIPS East Branch and there was a lot of interest from different sectors of the profession in this topic including many new faces from the usual East Branch crowd. Prompted by Dr John Crawford, Christine Irving and Sean McNamara we discussed what Information Literacy is and the importance of having our part in teaching these skills recognised; whether it happens in a public library, college, school, university or workplace. We also looked at proposals for a Scottish National Policy for Information Literacy and the problems of getting funding to achieve this goal. One brave colleague even challenged the need for us to be teaching these skills at all, which led to further debate…

However, I agree with Christine and John’s statement from their Information Literacy collaboration:

“Information literacy – understanding how to access and use information – is the cornerstone of learning and absolutely essential in this digital age.”

In the current climate of change (job loss, budget cuts, merging sectors and reorganisation), I feel that it is vital that we all take part in advocating the skills we help develop in our clients. So I heartily encourage you to take part in developing, advocating and sharing best practice. There are several ways in which to achieve this and one promoted this afternoon, which I have now signed up, for is the ‘Community of Practice’, a mostly virtual meeting place where like-minded professionals can discuss, plan, coordinate, share and seek advice across sectors.

IL SM 1I realise that one of the setbacks that we face is a reluctance to value what we do (or to be so snowed under that we rush to the next project without congratulating ourselves on a job well done) and I admit this is something I am quite guilty of. It’s a belief that what I do is probably done better elsewhere so I don’t share it, or, that sharing is somehow seen as showing off and saying that I am better than anyone else. But I am wrong, I understand that by sharing my ideas I am not thinking that I am the best librarian ever but that I am willing to share an idea or experience that a colleague may find useful and may save them time. And that by doing this I will perhaps more importantly promote what librarians and information professionals do to folk outside the profession and by doing so update public and employer perceptions.

However, I may float in the Community of Practice a while before contributing. A comforting tactic I have also used in the yahoo group for school librarians, the wonderful SLN – School Librarians’ Network – where after hovering around for the first few weeks I have since joined in several SLN initiatives, including the fabby Stan Lee Excelsior Award for graphic novels, which I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. It enriches the services I provide for my pupils. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel and I have on-tap expertise in a myriad of fields at my fingertips. Because, frankly, I don’t have time to work out how to create a QR code, but within minutes I can find someone who can. These folk are generously sharing the results of their labours and are happy to help and support you.

I’m confident that the Community of Practice will be invaluable, inspiring me to develop cross-sectoral projects that haven’t even crossed my mind yet and putting me in touch with like-minded colleagues. Of course there are many communities that you can join and network with, but perhaps like me you have been focusing on your own sector, but I think it’s time to get out there and see what everyone else is up to.

Julie Sutherland

Places to share, things to discuss:

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