Passion for the Profession can be expressed in many ways

Our CILIP Chief Executive, Annie Mauger,  invited librarians via Twitter to ponder some controversial views expressed in a blog, ‘Deprofessionalisation and the blogosphere’  The article decried the standard of social media communication being conducted by professional librarians. Its author suggested that ‘the knowledge and skills that make up (professional expertise) should be our primary concern’ and argued that more journal articles and discussion of  content was what was needed. The article set me reflecting on our own situation in Scotland.

I think that while there is a place for considered and well argued journal articles, the social bonds engendered by participation in e.g. Twitter are equally important in encouraging a sense of community and common interest.  This can lead to debate but also activity and learning based around the profession.

One recent example of Twitter enabling this was the ‘tweetmeet’ organised by Anabel Marsh which led on to planning and participation in activities for National Libraries Day.   Activity has since grown into a semi regular event sponsored by CILIPS to encourage librarians from all sectors to meet up and share experiences while learning a little more about each other’s professional practice. (There’s another tweetmeet organised to take place at 6.15pm in the Bon Accord Pub, North Street, Glasgow, on 14th March if you’re interested in coming along).

As for the blogosphere there are some examples of writing  rooted in experience rather than theory and from which we can all learn. Here are a few blogs from Scottish colleagues you might care to sample:

 Nicola Osborne who works for EDINA is expert at liveblogging of events – a real skill – and she always posts something of use for those with an interest in social media and libraries.

Neal Buchanan from the University of West of Scotland posts on educational events and activities in which he’s involved – useful for anyone who isn’t able to attend in person.

Christine Irving blogs at  on the LIS DREAm project as well as what she has been up to professionally.

These are just three examples from Scotland but there are many more. What’s your favourite Scottish library blog?


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.



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.

Welcome to the Scottish Information Literacy Project

Welcome everyone to the Scottish Information Literacy Project and weblog we are delighted with the help we received from the invaluable Warren Smith in IT in setting it up. Things are reasonably good at the moment as we are currently funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Many Thanks to this body for keeping the show on the road. However although we are funded until the end of September 2009, now is not too soon to be thinking about finding future funding. 

We have recently been doing our first piece of consultancy, some subcontracting work for Becta. This has proved to be very informative and it shows that Becta is becoming aware of information literacy or digital literacy as they prefer to call it.  There is also growing interest in the early years/parental involvement agenda, the role of information in these areas and media literacy which is something we are interested in having previously had contacts with Ofcom Scotland. It was also flagged up strongly when I visited Washington in October last year to meet US experts on information literacy. However I feel that, while LIS research is using educational findings, I do not think that, on the whole, the converse is true. I attended a discussion last month on a pre print about digital natives and although information literacy was discussed in the text there were no references to LIS journals or research.

Christine and I are currently scurrying about meeting employers’ organisations, the STUC, the Employability & Skills Division of the Lifelong Learning Directorate and Skills Development Scotland who are interested in the role of IL in careers guidance.  There is no doubt at all that the skills agenda is going to play a big part in the future of IL development and it is essential that it should be seen as a discrete skill and not just buried  under umbrella terms like ‘problem solving’ and ‘soft skills’. A recurring problem for us is that we have no policy formulated by our professional body (CILIP) to show them.  An issue for the Policy Forum?

I am a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) which has a strong interest in vocational education and skills development.  We recently had a meeting with the RSA Outreach Officer who has agreeed to promote IL awareness among IL members.


Best wishes


John Crawford


Project Director

Scottish Learning Festival

Included in the the sesions I attended was the keynote speech by Fiona Hyslop MSP Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning in which she outlined the central role of learning in supporting the Scottish Government’s strategic objectives. Of particular interest was that of a mention of Information Literacy skills and Dundee Librarians creating a community of Information Literacy skills in her speach in reference to examples of joined up working and GLOW.

She spoke quite a bit about GLOW (a national digital network for Scottish Schools) and referred to it as a truely innovative service on a national basis, recognised by George Lucas who was calling on US Congress to do the same. (Laurie O’Donnell, director of learning and technology at Learning and Teaching Scotland, was named as one of the George Lucas Educational Foundation’s “global six”. Each year, the film-maker’s foundation honours six educationalists who it believes are “reshaping education”. O’Donnell was honoured for his use of information technology.)

With reference to the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) she said it was skills for learning, skills for life, beyond curricular into life and that there was still much to do: assessments; skills development; professional development for teachers.

In the afternoon I attended a thought provoking session by Ruth Sutton entitled “It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it…that’s what gets results” she talked about ‘not the what but the how of teaching’ and that there was ‘not enough focus on the how’ and that there was an ‘enourmous gap between vision and reality’. She also talked about initiatives and spining or weaving plates and that from a personal perspective ‘nothing that we identify as best practice is entirely new’.

With reference to research and practitioners – she talked about ‘how do we get the water to the end of the furrow’ which I though was a good analogy for getting research out into practice something which the library and information profession research community has looked at. On Assessments – Assesment for Learning (AfL) was more like Assessment for Teachers however teachers that support Assessment for Learning would not go back. Also there needed to be a move from ‘plan for coverage to planning for learning’.

She talked a little about Limbic Learning (a new term for me) which is all about using the part of the brain which deals with emotion, experiences and habits – helps the telling into habits from knowing into doing. According to Sutton Limbic Learning is the key to challenge traditional approach to teachers’ professional development. Returning to the how not the what she said that Curriculum for Excellence needs to be defined as the how not the what.

The afternoon’s keynote Reforming the High School Curriculum: Tools for Raising Quality of Learning and Improving Equity, Richard Teese, Professor of Post Compulsory Education Training and Director of the Centre for Post Compulsory Education and Lifelong Learning, University of Melbourne. He sees CfE as far sighted and ambitious and that it will tax Scottish schools on two major fronts: how to raise the quality of learning of many students and how to ensure that all young people build well on a succesful experience of school. He says progress on both these fronts will require strong incentives. His keynote included identifying some of the key challenges for Scotland in the context of CfE.

My final session of the day was Real and Relevant – Information Literacy Skills for the 21st century Learner Louise Ballantyne, Development Officer, Literacy, Learning and Teaching Scotland. According to her biography ‘Louise has a broad experience of teaching at different stages throughout the primary school. Most recently at LTS she has played a key role in the writing of Literacy and English outcomes for CfE, and has engaged with authorities across Scotland as to how to take the framework forward.’ I was particulalry interested in hearing what Louise had to say about information literacy as the Seminar Description refered to ‘the Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes direct practitioners to help learners find and use information effectively, to use information ethically and with a critical eye.’ Whilst what Louise was saying with reference to information literacy was not new to school librarians and those professionals involved in information literacy it was interesting and good to hear a teacher talk about information literacy. Once finished her material will I understand be available on the CfE website. I also understand that one of the school librarian GLOW mentors approached her about the material being included in GLOW. I hope to meet up with her at a later date and discuss as the seminar describes ‘one of the more challenging areas of Curriculum for Excellence.’ This is the part I like about attending events sharing information with other people.