I’m a little late blogging about the LILAC Conference, which I attended in Cardiff a month and a half ago, but I didn’t have a blog at the time, having only started this one last week. The LILAC conference is the Librarians Information Literacy Annual Conference, it has nothing to do with the flower, or the colour (although a lot of people, myself included, did wear purple).
So, what is information literacy? Information literacy is a phrase used to describe some of the work librarians (and teachers and lecturers) have found themselves doing in recent years, since the arrival of the internet and the mass of electronic information now available to students and schoolchildren. Along with this rise in available information has been the growth of some of the following problems:
- difficulties hunting for information (obviously many university students are excellent at this, but many struggle to find their way through the mass of information available, and miss useful sources).
- issues with evaluating information (people need to be aware of the difference between academic quality journal articles, books and websites, versus opinions and thoughts posted on the internet by people with unknown credentials, and be able to select and use quality information as sources for essays)
- a rise in plagiarism (e.g. copying and pasting words from the internet into essays, and passing them off as the student’s own, with some people not even realising that this is not considered good or acceptable practice)
- problems with referencing (knowing how to show clearly in essays that you are basing an idea on someone else’s work, and making sure that you have written down all the books and articles and websites you have mentioned in the essay using the correct referencing style…there are many!)
and many more…
Many people don’t like the term information literacy, and you will not always find the term on resources that are designed to help with the issues outlined above, as it’s not a phrase many people know outside of libraries and teaching, and is often avoided so as not to scare people away from using helpful resources. I think it’s useful mainly as a term which draws lots of ideas together.
Information literacy is important to librarians, as the whole concept is rooted in the kind of work librarians are trained to do, and tend to be good at, such as searching through large amounts of information and selecting the best quality and most relevant sources, and keeping well organized with lists of references, and most of all, teaching other people how to handle information hunting and get the best results back.
For me, information literacy is essentially the everyday work I do, such as showing people how to use electronic resources and find good quality articles for their essays, showing them how to reduce enormous result lists to small ones using cunning tactics librarians know well, and how to find information on a topic when there doesn’t seem to be anything out there…plus of course giving guidance on the dreaded referencing…
Finally, here are a couple of my favourite information literacy resources on the internet, they’re not called information literacy, but essentially, that’s what they are, as they are there to improve the way you find or use information:
Ignore the login at the top, look lower down the page, put a date into the assignment due date box, and press calculate assignment schedule, you will get back a useful set of tasks to help you complete the essay.
Help with referencing for a few of the main referencing styles (Harvard, Vancouver, Oscala). Click on the reference style you are using, and then work through the options, for an example of how to reference.
Coming soon: A write up of the sessions at the LILAC Conference…including sessions I attended on both of the above resources…