Meeting with Skills Development Scotland

We have had a couple of meetings before with the staff at Skills Development Scotland (SDS) which was formed earlier this year and incorporates the old Careers Scotland. The purpose of our meeting which took place on Wednesday 17th December was to plan an information literacy symposium which will take place on 20th March 2009.  Christine, Ian McCracken and I met Douglas Govan and his colleague, Sarah Hall, from the Careers Division to plan the event.

Details are still to be worked out but we want to involve a combination of SDS staff and externals drawn from the work and skills community.  We want to bring representatives of these organisations together to locate information literacy within the wider skills agenda and to identify key issues and common themes. We are planning a half day meeting which will begin with a couple of introductory presentations followed by facilitated workshops where the participants can discuss what information literacy means to them and how it can be used in career choice, progression and work situations. This will be followed by a feedback session at the end of which concrete action points will be decided upon which will hopefully lead to further action.  We will be meeting with SDS staff again in the New Year to finalise details. We are particularly pleased that SDS has accepted the value of information literacy and recognised its importance in career planning and development and as an employability skill.

This brings to an end (for the moment anyway) a lengthy series of meetings in which we have successfully raised the profile of information literacy among both employers’ and employee organisations and organisations involved in skills development.  In the New Year we will begin to implement the findings of these meetings.

This may be the last post of the year so I hope you all have a peaceful and restful break.  Meanwhile I enclose a photograph from last Christmas of Jemima helping to open the  Christmas presents


Information Literacy and Web 2.0

One of the books on my reading pile was Information Literacy Meets Library 2.0 by Peter Godwin and Jo Parker (2008). I found the book written by different authors for different chapters very useful to update my knowledge about Web 2.0 tools and to see how they are being used in different sectors / situations and countries. Although most of the writers are from HE and are writing about HE I think the information could be useful to other sectors too. I was particularly interested in the chapter by Sheila Webber on Educating Web 2.0 LIS students for information literacy which also has some relevance for educating teachers. Among the many things she said here are the ones that I thought were most relevant the project and what we are doing.

I agree with her that there is no need for a new definition for IL in a Web 2.0 world. “.. key issue is how you understand the concept of ‘information’.” “Commentators on IL make the assumption that ‘information’ in IL definitions refers to textual information, but that is not necessarily the case. The notes on IL skills which accompany the CILIP definition make it clear that ‘information may be available on paper (books, reference works, journals, magazines, newspapers, etc), digitally (on CD-ROMS, over the internet or the world wide web, on DVDs, on your own computer or network etc), through other media such as broadcast or film or from a colleague or friend’ (Armstrong et al., 2005). p40.

“Web 2.0 has made publication and information combination easier. This means that ethical and legal use of information come to the foreground, as well as issues of data protection and privacy. It also means that there are exciting possibilities fro encouraging people to develop their understanding of IL through creating a variety of information products.”
“… working with others in an information-literate way. Developing more effective habits in sharing information, and in managing information for use within a group, are skills which are essential in many workplaces. Freely available Web 2.0 tools for sharing and aggregating information can be used to develop such skills.” p42-43

“When it comes to librarians’ skills in teaching IL, the European working party identified four main areas for learning:
1 Curriculum design and planning (one of the elements listed here is understanding appropriate use of technology in designing learning environments).
2 Understanding learners and learning theory (which includes understanding e-learning models and the needs of e-learners).
3 Understanding basic concepts, theories and practice of teaching.
4 Understanding the context for teaching and learning (e.g. issues concerned with the teaching and learner-support role of the librarian).

Learning to teach using Web 2.0 tools fits within these four areas: there is increasing consensus that ‘good strategies for e-learning’ are part of ‘good strategies for learning’, so that teaching with technology should not be seen as a strange and separate activity. It is always valuable to learn more about specific tools, to put theory into practice. However, technology changes so fast that it is more crucial to learn some of the underlying concepts. Thus you can develop an approach to teaching that enables you to evaluate new tools and see how they can been used effectively in learning and teaching.

One problem for LIS educators is fitting everything that needs to be taught into the curriculum.” p45

Other chapterrs which were of interest was John Kirriemuir – Teaching information literacy through digital games which is an interesting idea in it’s early stages and Judy O’Connell – School Library 2.0: new skills, new knowledge, new future.

I had hoped for more in the chapter on Public Libraries but then it is still early days and the idea of using blogs for learners in Public Libraries to record their thoughts, experiences etc came from reading this chapter and the chapter on Engage or enrage: the blog as an assessment tool – Georgina Payne.

As always the Open University seems to be ahead of the game but then I always find the work Jo Webb and the OU team do is amazing and an inspiration to us all. It’s not surprising that she is one of the co editors on this book. The chapters by Peter Godwin are good at setting the scene and the conclusions which the following are exerts from.

“In the world of information scarcity, publishers mediated the content which was published and added to the world’s knowledge. At first the web simply continued this process. Although at that time individual expression was possible on the web it was technical and difficult. Web 2.0 changed all this and in the age of the amateur, we are beginning to see the development of new forms of authority. “ p176

“The importance of the information-literate person being able to interpret the context of what is found, based on healthy scepticism of everything they see on the web of the future is crucial. In other words, we help students to construct meaning from what they find (Jastram, 2006). What has changed is that they will be doing this more often in a collabotative, active way because of the use of Web 2.0 tools. IL, the most important of the patchwork of capabilities which will help them make sense of their world, has undoubtly been greatly enriched by the availability of these new participatory tools.” p178.

Jastram, I. (2006) Information Literacy 2.0, Pegasus Librarian (blog),

See the Information Literacy meets Library 2.00 blog for updates.

Meeting with Learning and Teaching Scotland / Curriculum for Excellence

On Wednesday December 10th Christine and I, along with two of our Project partners, Cleo Jones, Principal Officer, Libraries & Resources at Edinburgh City Council and Ian McCracken, Learning Resources Centre Manager at Govan High School attended a meeting at Learning and Teaching Scotland’s (LTS) offices to discuss possible Project input to the development of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).  LTS was represented by Stuart Ritchie, Director of Curriculum at LTS, Fiona Norris, Team Leader, language and literacy and Ian Graham, Schools ICT Programme Director. Although we have been working with LTS for several years, including most recently the case studies of IL in secondary schools, this is the first opportunity we have had to engage with LTS staff at a policy level and the meeting opportunity was therefore very welcome.

We reviewed with LTS colleagues the work of the Project and Cleo and Ian explained some of their work which underlined the key role our partners play in our work. Fiona explained that she is keen to have a project involving school librarians.  Having reviewed what both sides have to offer and identified IL as sitting within the CfE Literacy team – Literacies for Learning, four action points emerged to be taken forward.

1.      A joint project is to be formulated with the CfE Literacy team. As a first stage Stuart and Fiona will discuss it and come back to us with firm proposals. Christine and I will meet with Fiona and colleagues early next year.

2.      We will work with the Literacy team on an IL proposal for presentations / workshops at the Scottish Learning Festival in September 2009

3.      There was some discussion about the presence of IL in different parts of the GLOW (the national intranet for Scottish schools) website which are not linked together. We will jointly look how at how Information Literacy should sit within Literacy

4.      Following a discussion on the need for CPD for teachers in IL we agreed that   online resources are required. Some funding will be available to support the development of this.

5.      A Literacy event is to take place at the Hilton on the 10th March, 2009 at which the keynote speaker will be Professor David Booth from Toronto. We will discuss Project involvement in this with Fiona.


We will hear more from LTS on the implementation of these plans by mid January. 


PS Thanks to Rob Westwood for giving the blog a mention in the current issues of CILIP Gazette. Apparently we are up there with the Prime Minister and Stephen Fry.



Scottish Funding Council ICT conference

On  Tuesday 9th December Christine and I attended a Scottish Funding Council (SFC) ICT conference in Edinburgh at the invitation of the SFC Senior Policy Officer for Strategic Development, this being an outcome of the meeting we had attended at SFC on 27th November. The aim of the meeting was to bring together people in FE and HE with employers to discuss how FE and HE can support eskills training. We had never met such a group before but it was soon apparent that the employer representatives were well known to SFC staff and had a good record in supporting eskills development and were therefore not necessarily typical of employers as a whole and indeed one of them remarked. “We are untypical because we are here” and a lack of employer vision proved to be one of the themes of the day.

There were two introductory keynote presentations which included such points as the growing number of businesses using IT, and the need for IT staff to focus on the needs of their employers. The need to focus on the generation which did not grow up with the Internet was emphasised and our old and highly relevant friends, soft skills development, including problem solving were mentioned.

Much of the rest of the day was taken up with discussion and feedback sessions. Our study of information usage in the workplace and our round of meetings, following on from it, suggested that the public sector is a promising area and that getting the message over to Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SME’s) is the biggest problem.  This and similar issues surfaced – how do you target the right people in organisations? ; SMEs don’t look ahead and plan for the future. Timing, mode of delivery and length of training were all discussed. The need to find out what companies want is crucial as universities often don’t do this. Also mentioned is the need to involve the Scottish Trades Union Congress and particularly its learning representatives who, as we learned from our meeting with the STUC’s Everyday Skills Committee on Tuesday 25th November, have an excellent grasp of workplace training needs. Significantly nobody from the STUC had been invited to attend. Suggested solutions included an annual event where people from SMEs could meet university staff, which sounds like a good opportunity for IL advocates.

After the first discussion session feedback included developing employability skills and improving course content. Increasing funding training weighted in favour of SMEs was also mentioned.

In the discussions there was quite a lot of criticism of the teaching of IT in schools which was felt to be out of date, boring and lacking in relevance to pupils. This, in turn, raises a major policy issue: the absence of any University input to Curriculum for Excellence planning. While this is a big issue it suggests that our Framework which links secondary and tertiary education is quite pioneering. 

After lunch there were short presentations by several participants who included Christine Sinclair, the executive director of the Institute of Business at Adam Smith College. They work actively with schools in developing the Curriculum for Excellence and also have an advisory board of employers who have, inter alia, urged the need for more soft skills training.

Finally we were invited to suggest a training area into which the SFC might put money and asked to break up into groups to discuss it. Our group spent a lot of time discussing the developing of targeted training for SMEs which would have be funded by SFC since SMEs obviously won’t do it themselves. We all agreed that market research was needed to find out what SMEs want and appropriate mode of delivery is essential whether online, face to face or mentor mediated. An administrative structure would need to be put in place to make it work effectively.

Overall it was a useful day with the main message being that the promotion of eskills and IL training face similar problems



Think life as a school librarian is peaceful and sedentary? Think again! Ian McCracken of Govan High School shares his hectic week

Ian McCracken of Govan High School is one of our project partners and a member of our advisory group who in a recent article in Learning and Teaching Scotland’s publication Connected shares with the readers Think life as a school librarian is peaceful and sedentary? Think again! Ian McCracken of Govan High School shares his hectic week.

It’s a great article which lets everyone see the diversity of life as a school librarian/Learning Resource Centre Manager/ Information Consultant.

What the article doesn’t convey is the amount and depth of work Ian does in the area of information literacy and the skills / employability agenda. We are currently in discussion with Skills Development Scotland and they have been very impressed with the work Ian and the school are doing in these areas.

Well done Ian, keep up the good work.

ScotlandsPeople discount in libraries

Last Friday’s ministerial launch of the ScotlandsPeople discount voucher scheme in public libraries seems to have done a good job in raising the profile of the initiative (view press release).  Details of the launch appeared in several newspapers including the Daily Record, the Scotsman, the Sun and the Sunday Telegraph.  SLIC has also experienced increased demand for vouchers, including orders from several local authorities that hadn’t been participating in the initial phase of the project.  Many other library services have organised successful events to promote the scheme.

ScotlandsPeople is the official Government web source of family history information in Scotland, usually accessed on a pay per view basis requiring a debit or credit card transaction.  Under this national scheme, vouchers will be available from public libraries giving library users throughout Scotland the opportunity to access the website at a significantly reduced cost.

For more information or voucher ordering, contact Penny Robertson e:

NHS Scotland Information Literacy Competency Framework – latest news

More news on information literacy in the NHS, this time from Scotland and Eilean Craig – who has informed me that their Framework has been revised and reformatted as a booklet series rather than a single (huge!) document. The revised booklets are available for downloading at Eilean says as always, any comment and suggestion will be much appreciated.

I for one will be checking them out and taking note for revising the draft National Information Literacy Framwork Scotland.

For anyone not familiar with this work they’ve produced an Information Literacy Framework intended for use across NHS Scotland, with NHS Scotland partners, patients, carers and members of the public. The framework is currently being piloted. I particulalry like the scenarios within the framework and think something similar could be used for other workplaces and information literacy. It’s certainly something we will be exploring along with case studies. They’ve also developed an NHS information literacy model which Eilean says is gradually becoming recognised and gaining acceptance.

In addition to the Framework, they’ve also produced online information literacy courses available at The courses are available to everyone who has an Athens password and ID (and there is the opportunity to register for these if you don’t already have them). A third tool they’ve developed is the information literacy portal at

Some great work going on and one to keep an eye on.

North East England NHS Information Literacy Project

Had an email about an Information Literacy Project in the NHS in the North East of England which I thought I would share with you all.

Hi John and Christine….

Congrats on your blog! I just thought you may be interested in some of the work currently going on in the North East NHS…

The Information Literacy Project is a Northeast SHA library network project funded by the SHA to promote a co-ordinated cross organisational approach to information literacy training. The main objectives of the project are to develop and produce an information literacy (IL) toolkit which will be hosted on a website or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and to coordinate and implement the information literacy training programme across the SHA region.

We are looking at the sconul pillars and are intending to link onto it using the name ‘PILLARS’ for the project (Professional Information Literacy, Library And Research Skills) – in the hope that it may already be familiar to some of our end users and line managers. Several of the Librarians and Information Professionals from our area are also currently participating in Information Litreracy courses and this has provided valuable feedback informing the structure and background to the proposed VLE (Moodle site).

Each of the training modules will have specific objectives, lesson plans and shared outcomes – training will be designed using (hopefully) the most appropriate methods, from a simple download of a training guide or helpsheet, to interactive demos and quizzes (produced on Captivate or Lectora). These will initially be stand alone elearning packages, but in the long term we hope to introduce more blended learning with things like live online demos and training (e.g. webexes). The Moodle will be populated with downloadable material until the interactive material is ready to ‘Go Live’, so there will not be any empty links or dead ends.

In addition to the material produced we also hope to use meta-tags to link all modules and material to KSF dimensions (just to give the training a bit more ‘punch’ and value when promoting to staff).

Everything that is eventually produced for the Moodle will be available to all staff across the NESHA and we have the potential to share the competed Moodle/VLE with other organisations.

We are quite happy to share any and all material to prevent duplication of effort. The project is just a 2 months old at the moment and we hope to have the shell and basic population with downloadable material up and running as soon as possible… (the ‘under construction’ site is at

Gail Guthrie
Information Skills Trainer &
Information Literacy Project

Meeting etc

A lot going on recently and I have been at Brighton University, making my last visit as an external examiner so a bit behind on writing up. We have been engaged on an extensive programme of meetings on workplace information literacy issues with a view to devising a programme of action.

On Monday 24th November we were in Inverclyde (reported by Christine) and on Tuesday 25th we attended a meeting of the Everyday Skills Committee of the Scottish Trades Unions Congress to report on our work and explain what IL is. Our presentation was well received by the Union Learning Representatives who are members of this committee. (Union learning reps are there to help the members / staff in their organisations develop the skills they require everyday in the workplace with a particular focus on literacy and numeracy). The representatives from the Fire Brigade’s Union had recently completed a survey of the level of staff skills in order to develop suitable training courses and were particularly interested in knowing what IL courses were available.  The presentation illustrated the point which we have found to be true elsewhere – IL  is widely understood as long as it is presented  in the context of the knowledge, skills, experience and learning needs of the group you are targeting which means that the message needs to tailored to whoever you happen to be speaking to at the time. 

Om Wednesday 26th  we had a meeting of the Project Advisory Group where inevitably much of the discussion revolved around the long term future of the Project and how it can be funded. We are currently funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation until the end of September 2009 so now is the time to think about new funding. Thursday 27th saw us in Edinburgh talking to the Learning Policy and Strategy Directorate of the Scottish Funding Council to raise awareness of the importance of IL in the skills agenda and especially as an employability and lifelong learning skill.

Back in Edinburgh again on Friday 28th, to attend the SLIC FE conference, at the invitation of Catherine Kearney, Assistant Director of SLIC to whom, Many Thanks. We participated in a JISC sponsored discussion on Libraries of the future after which Christine and I were interviewed by Philip Pothen, the JISC Press and PR manager. The interview is to appear as a podcast and I will post the URL when it becomes available.  I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and I have been trying to raise awareness of IL as a necessary workplace skill with the help of their Outreach officer as education and skills is an RSA priority.  There is a piece in the current RSA Scotland newsletter which is on their website although there seems to be a problem with the link just now.

While in Brighton on Monday 1st December I had a meeting with Martin de Saulles, a member of the Social Informatics Research Unit who is interested in IL in small to medium sized enterprises and we identified areas of common interest.

There are a couple more meetings to go before we collapse exhausted over the Christmas turkey but the message is already becoming clear.  Increasingly the people we speak to are asking us about content of IL training programmes and how they might be delivered.  Although IL training obviously has generic components training packages will need to focus on particular requirements.  A new research question it seems.

SLIC FE Conference

The third SLIC Further Education (FE) libraries Conference took place on Fri 28 November at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. The event was introduced in 2006 as part of the new SLIC membership package and attendance is free to Scottish FE librarians. We had hoped to deliver a live blog of the event on twitter but were thwarted by connectivity issues at the venue!

The day started off with Richard Wallis from Talis who used the recent JISC LMS study as a basis for discussing library management systems of the future, outlining the implications of ‘cloud computing’ for both librarians and vendors. The key message from that came across from this was the need for extensible systems that fit in users’ web space rather than stand alone entities.

Keeping with the theme of user-focused web services, Phil Bradley then presented a practical, yet impassioned, guide to implementing Web2.0 in libraries, highlighting his pick of the numerous Web2.0 services and demonstrating their potential value in the library environment.

The focus of the programme then switched to digital repositories, with Charles Duncan providing an overview of Intrallect and John Casey of UHI Millennium Institute sharing his experiences of managing intellectual property rights in networked e-learning.

The final speaker of the day was Dave Pattern from Huddersfield University who outlined his work in incorporating Web2.0 technologies within the library management system. Dave presented a ‘warts and all’ overview of his experience with the LMS, allowing practitioners to benefit from his practical tips and cautionary tales.

The day ended with a JISC sponsored discussion on Libraries of the future and a drinks and canapé reception afterwards. Feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive and all presentations will soon be made available online for those who were unable to attend.


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