Monday, June 29, 2015

New issue of Communications in Information Literacy

The latest issue of the open access journal Communications in Information Literacy (voliume 9 number 1) is available. Articles include:
- “Mind-Blowing”: Fostering Self-Regulated Learning in Information Literacy Instruction by Eveline Houtman
- Education Theory and Pedagogy for Practical Library Instruction: How to Learn What We Really Need to Know by Molly Montgomery
- A Decade of Critical Information Literacy: A Review of the Literature by Eamon Tewell
- Motivational Design in Information Literacy Instruction by Amanda Kathryn Nichols Hess
- Teaching and Learning Information Synthesis: An Intervention and Rubric Based Assessment by Kacy Lundstrom, Anne R. Diekema, Heather Leary, Sheri Haderlie, Wendy Holliday
- Connecting Inspiration with Information: Studio Art Students and Information Literacy Instruction by Katie Greer[]=17&path[]=showToc
Photo by Sheila Webber: bee and wild rose, June 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

Improving chances of prostate cancer survival in black African men: information behaviour #i3rgu

Nearly the final session of the i3 conference .The last presentation I attended was authored by Laura Muir and Chikezie Emele, and presented by Emele, on Improving chances of prostate cancer survival in black African men: a study of the information needs of this high-risk group in the UK and S.E. Nigeria
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Nigerian men: Emele presented some statistics showing the high prevelance, and identified that even this is not likely to show the true extent. There are "health disparities in diseases and mortality in the African rural population", but even the services in the cities are not great. Emele gave some cultural background and also noted that there is a growing shortage of healthcare workers in rural Nigeria (e.g. because of travel difficulty). Therefore it becomes even more important that information is available in other ways (for example through the radio) and not just dependent on healthcare workers. Emele also showed how in the UK awareness may be spread e.g. via official leaflets, whereas in Nigeria he used an example of a van going round raising awareness but also selling a "remedy".
The aim of the research is to develop a deeper understanding of the information behaviour of rural dwellers in South East Nigeria (plus evaluating needs, identifying cultural issues and developing a strategy to improve things). Emele did a pilot study with Nigerian men in the UK. He developed an approach of "on spot interviews" - engaging people in conversation about the research (e.g. having gone to a meeting of a Nigerian association) and then asking them to be interviewed there and then (as it was difficult recruiting people in other ways). Emele also did 2 focus groups.
Moving on to the main study, he did case study research. He used focus group, interviews and observation. The men were found to have little prior knowledge about prostate cancer - many had not heard about it before. Emele found the younger the men were, the less willing they were to see a GP or get tested, thinking that as they were younger, there was no need. The men did not seek health information, but showed interest when shown leaflets and videos. The visually-presented information was more effective, it was more interesting and easier to assimilate. Emele found that interpersonal information from trusted sources (peers and church elders) was preferred.
Emele also found that many men associated prostate cancer with sexually transmitted diseases (perhaps because it was in that area of the body): therefore they feared that their wives would think they had been unfaithful if they talked about testing or symptoms. Health information was, for example, transmitted at second hand via elders, taken from the radio etc. which could lead to misinformation. This also links to underlying problems of illiteracy and poverty.
In summary there was reluctance to find information, there was no available information in the rural communities, most of the men had not heard of prostate cancer and would not recognise the symptoms. Emele concluded that presenting health information in appropriate formats which are culturally accepted is needed, and he is developing a conceptual framework. He aims to extend his approach to other health areas and test it elesewhere.
Photo by Sheila Webber: possibly the final photo of Dunnottir castle ;-)

An information conundrum: Dorothy Williams at #i3rgu

The final keynote from the i3 conference was from Dorothy Williams (original chair ofthe i3 conference) on An information conundrum. She defined a conundrum as an "intricate and difficult problem".
A central problem was "In an information world - a world which already recognises the importance of information - how can we tell the world how important information is?". This tied back to some of the arguments of the first keynote speaker, Olof Sundin. As he said, information has become an everyday part of life, and (quoting Floridi) the "information revolution" affects our understanding of ourselves and how we are connected and part of the world.
The word "information" itself has become even more an everyday word, sometimes used to help explain other difficult phenomena (e.g. DNA). In fact the ubiquity of information is one of the challenges of getting our messages across: getting them across in a world that may think it already "knows" and "gets" information.
In terms of importance: a lot of money is spent in facilitating access to information via ICT, stories about information security and misinformation get into the headline etc. However, information practitioners and researchers still feel that they have contributions that will make a difference.
Williams used an anecdote situated in an Edinburgh highschool library that incorporates a courtyard with chickens (pictured above) which hosted the launch of a campaign to save school libraries and librarians. One member of parliament who attended said "his eyes had been opened" in terms of what information literacy and librarians can do. This highlights how people can be unaware of the impact of what we are doing, but may respond very positively and actively once they do.
A second example was a research study on energy innovation in meat and dairy industries. Part of the model they developed included whether the companies had data, or information, or knowledge about what was going on in the company so they could MAKE informed decisions about energy decisions. For example, one company did not even know what they spent on energy, another did not know what all the bits of kits were that consuming energy. So information was vital to getting to grips with the business problem.
From these various concerns, the i3 conference itself emerged (Williams showed a picture from the first conference, which I was at, only rather younger and slimmer at that point) to encourage research conversations between different related fields and encourage impact and interaction.
This moved her on to "Are our own i3 information conversations changing the world?". Williams had analysed past conference contributions in terms of whether they dealt with: information behaviour; information literacy; impact; or agent of change (this last one was just flagged up recently). This was going by how authors self-identified their papers, and with impact the association was sometimes rather loose, rather than central. Thus it was less prominent than Information Behaviour or IL. About half the papers focused on one theme.
In terms of contexts for research described in the papers at i3: education was by far the most frequent (although the number of papers on this had gone down over the years), followed by the online environment, and then health, workplace, demographics (i.e. focus on a specific age group ort sector), community and social media (with a variety of others covered less often e.g. cultures, government, business, knowledge management). Williams picked out an underlying theme of looking at how we can give more equal or better access to information.
Williams then stepped back to what the world has been talking about e.g. austerity, energy and climate change, poverty, privacy and security. She queried how we connected with those big issues, and whether we had a contribution that could demonstrate our value in meeting these big challenges.
Williams picked out themes she saw in the i3 conversations over the years since the first conference in 2007. Note that in every conference there have been sessions where questions and concerns were discussed explicitly. There were questions about the scope of the field (e.g. covering the affective domain better), what should be researched and how the fields were related. We have asked (in the conferences) whether we were too risk averse, and whether we needed to tackle more uncomfortable questions. Questions of "how well are we doing ourt research" also emerged from conferences e.g. were the range of methods too narrow, whether more clarity was needed. Then there was "Complexity" - whether we were reflecting the messiness and complexity of information and information problems. There was the difficulty of dealing with complex systems - and also understanding where does the complexity lie. An ongoing challenge was in dealing with this complexity when talking to communities outside the information field.
Finally a theme emerged about impact, how to demonstrate the impact of information, to identify the role of information (support or change agent), and the need for more evidence of impact (e.g. in the workplace). Williams noted here that good case studies help demonstrate impact. This was related to "getting the message across", another recurrent challenge discussed at i3 conferences. Questions included the role of jargon and identifying our distinctive perspective.
Williams finished by identifying that the clarity of the message needed to be improved: stating more clearly and boldly what the contribution of our research is. She felt despite these reservations we are addressing a wider range of problems and more evidence about impact and value ould help us get our message across. Williams returned to Floridi and suggested that our role in the information revolution could be "to help the world understand itself": to help people understand themselves better, because information is so much part of ourselves and our lives.

a qualitative study of information avoidance behaviour of female academics in Saudi Arabia #i3rgu

More liveblogging from the final day of the i3 conference in Aberdeen. Mark Hepworth presented research results of his doctoral student Fatmah Almehmadi on Categories of information avoidance: a qualitative study of information avoidance behaviour of female academics in Saudi Arabia. This contributes to information behaviour (IB) research, particularly non-purposive IB, and IB outside the Western context.
Almehmadi on had identified categories for information acquisition, information avoidance and information sharing: avoidance was the focus of this paper. There were motivations for avoidance (implicit and explicit) , strategies for avoiding (e.g. proactive, reactive) and types of avoidance (e.g. upon encountering, ongoing).
Going into more detail: in terms of types of information avoidance there was pre-disposed (e.g. choosing not to look at a Youtube channel; avoiding news about war conflict) and upon encounter (in physical or online settings). Motivations were categorised as implicit or explicit. Both explicit and implicit reasons were intellectually, emotionally or socially driven. As an example of intellectually driven motivation, there was the category of avoiding mental discomfort, e.g. avoiding reading something that conflicts with your beliefs.
The researcher felt that social motivation was particularly powerful for these Saudi women e.g. avoiding information because you are following advice , or want to avoid upsetting people.
Strategies for information avoidance were verbal (e.g. asking someone to change the subject) and non-verbal e.g. avoiding health care providers so as not to hear unpleasant news, or turning off the TV.
Overall there was a rich network of categories presented,  and it will be interesting to see a paper about it.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Dunnottis Castle, June 2015

Information Seeking Behaviour of International Students in Japan #i3rgu

Liveblogging the final day of the i3 conference in Aberdeen. Meriem Tebourbi presented a paper coauthored with Hideo Joh: Information Seeking Behaviour of International Students: A Case study of the University of Tsukuba, Japan . Her research aim was to uncover the information needs of international students at the university and to understand the patterns of information seeking behaviour. This was done through an online questionnaire aimed at English speaking students at the university.
The background is the growing internationalisation of Japanese higher education, with the Ministry of Education setting targets for recruiting more international students, and the actual number rising steadily. The University of Tsukuba has exchange agreements with over 300 institutions and has students coming from very different cultures, which leads to many information needs, with differences in language and culture being major barriers to acquiring information.
Previous studies of international students in Japan have, for example, identified that material needs, but not emotional needs, might be met by the host universities.
The participants were asked about their information needs relating to campus life, and had separate sections about different types of information channel (e.g. social networking, offline sources). They were also asked about helpfulness of, and frustrations with, the channels.The respondents came from many different countries. All channels (online, offline, mailing list and official website) were all used, with mailing lists being most used, and the offline sources were the favourite ones.
Different channels were used for different kinds of topic but (for example) all were useful for campus life information. This seemed to reflect their wide range of needs e.g. university procedures, events, visa information, job opportunities, news about natural disasters (as Japan has a lot of earthquakes, typhoons etc.: social media was best for that). Problems particularly centred around lanuguage (e.g. no English translation; an example was given of an incorrect translation of vital information about a coursework deadline), and spam or overposting of information.
This led to the observation that students tended to overlook information when it's only in Japanese, and they did not make so many efforts to understand it. Since students also preferred human information channels, then it would be beneficial if the university employed more English-speaking tutors to support the students.
Photo by Sheila Webber: the room the talk took place in (though obviously not during the talk)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Information literacy within intercultural settings #i3rgu

Another liveblog, on day 3 of the i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. Alison Hicks and Annemaree Lloyd talked about It takes a community to build a framework: information literacy within intercultural settings. Hicks started by talking about different kinds of intercultural settings. When people move to a different culture/country they have to develop new adaptive strategies, and information literacy was seen as a way of getting to know this new landscape. However, in practice, information literacy may not scaffold this complexity: specifically the US ARCL information literacy standards were seen as problematic. More generally, behaviourist approaches were seen as dominating information literacy in intercultural seetings (with the idea of steps, levels etc.). This leads to IL being positioned (particularly thinking of the USA) as a set of neutral and general skills, even in intercultural settings. It also implied a "one way or unilateral process of assimilation" with a focus on rectifying deficits in teaching and assessments.
Hicks then contrasted a more nuanced constructivist approach, seeing "linguistic and cultural challenges bringing complexity". However, even the constructivist approach (for example, in the new ACRL framework) was seen as "neglecting practices that characterise knowing of a context", isolating IL from context, values etc.
The third approach that Hicks presented was the sociocultural approach to IL in intercultural settings. These was seen as emerging from the local and social context, so that it would embody community values etc.
Lloyd took over at this point took over to talk about her study of refugees and health information. Participants from various African backgrounds were interviewed and constructivist grounded theory was used to analyse the data, before going back to discuss the emerging results in focus groups. The researchers discovered that "information literacy is enacted through social interactions", and that people emerged as important sources of information. People were used in different ways (mediation, confirmatory, instructional etc.) Lloyd also highlighted the strategy of pooling information in order to get a bigger picture or make a decision. ths mastering information did not depend on individuals, but rather the resiliance in the community.
There is a paper here (priced publication)
Lloyd, A., Kennan, M., Thompson, K. and Qayyum, A. (2013). Connecting with new information landscapes: information literacy practices of refugees. Journal of Documentation, 69(1), 121-144.
Finally Lloyd handed back to Hicks to provide a further critique of the ACRL framework, in that it maintains a generic approach tto information literacy and knowledge. Hicks' own research will focus on language students abroad, including the notion of internationalisation in universities, and the experience of transition.
Photo by Sheila Webber: field by Dunnottir Castle, June 2015

Inviting Communities to Create: The Impact of Scottish Makerspaces #i3rgu

Back to liveblogging, on day 3 of the i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. Todd Richter presented a paper coauthored with Laura Muir, Inviting Communities to Create: The Impact of Scottish Makerspaces. In his introduction, Richter talked about the development of makerspaces (a global movement), and the importance of 3D printing for that. He gave emailing a spanner to 3D print on a space stateion, and a Chinese company 3D printing a house, as current examples. Makerspaces themselves were positioned as "democratising creative tech", being hands on and potentially involving a community.
Richter looked at makerspaces as agents of change, aiming to assess impact and identify lessons and best practice.His sites were a public library (Dundee Central) and two other makerspaces, and data collection included interviews. At Dundee they particularly encouraged less advantaged groups, for example making their own assistive technologies like cup holders for wheelchairs. One group are behaviourally challenged children and things like using books which provide the information so you can print out the characters from the books (so the children can hold the characters as they hear the story). Changing digital to physical objects can also help the visually impaired. There is a press release at
The next site was the Glasgow Maklab, which includes a programme aimed at children. They use e.g. children's interest in Minecraft (printing out objects from Minecraft). They have workshops etc. on different maker topics, and startups are able to use the facilities (e.g. to laser cut handmade jewellery). In the interviews, it was emphasised that the people who use the makerspace learn from each other. The third space was Make Aberdeen
Challenges of makerspaces included staffing (it's not good to depend on one person), training staff and users, space (it's not good if it is tucked away in the small available space), demand (it's difficult to keep up with demand, bearing in mind that things can be very slow to print), equipment maintenance (and coping with problems in printing). Obviously funding is a potential solution, but for libraries can be the major problem (the Dundee initiative had funding from the Scottish Library and Information Council, for example, rather than immediate core funding).
Success factors included evident community need being met, knowledge sharing, fearlessness, and willingness to experiment. To assess impact, you need to look at the effect on individual lives, so this can be pursued through qualitative case studies. However, just from this study, there had been impact on people who needed additional support (they had more confidence and/or improved quality of life), new communities of practice were being created, people were learning skills in making, there was incubation of entrepreneurs and artists.They also had economic impact, in enabling people to have new ideas which they could follow up more quickly through 3D printing.
Richter identified areas of future research included the longer term impact of makerspaces on libraries, issues of intellectual property and the issue of how patterns for 3D models were catalogued (and whether they were open access). He felt that there was potential for makerspaces to "instill a love of learning", and address local problems - but (as emerged also in the questions afterwards) there is a need for empirical research.
Photo by Sheila Webber: out of the RGU window, June 2015

Making Sense of the Past: the Information Practices of Field Archaeologists #i3rgu

It's day 3 of the i3 conference held at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. I chaired a session first thing, so this and the next post are not liveblogged (as I needed to give attention to my duties as chair!) but I took notes, which I've tiedied up (but not radically revised).
Firstly, Michael Olsson talked on Making Sense of the Past: the Information Practices of Field Archaeologists. Olsson focused on practices by which participants make sense of artefacts and archaeological sites: using an information practices approach (which focuses on the social context rather than on individual behaviours).
In doing this he also felt he was studying the process of how something becomes a document or information. There has been quite a lot of scholarly discussion about what constitutes a document (and a great deal about what is information!). In this research, Olsson came to understand the archaeological site itself as a document: the artefacts and structures found in it need to be understood in the context of the site. However, that context can be lost when the individual items are focused on and documented. Olsson defined an artefact by showing pictures of various objects such as skulls or bracelets, but identified that most of the artefacts on the sites he was investigating looked like grubby bits of stone. Also, for example, unusual mud (containing, say, remnants of food) could count as an artefact.
He had carried out his fieldwork in Orkney (the Iron Age Cairns Project and the Ness of Brodgar Neolithic site): prehistoric sites where there are no written records, so “artefacts are the only documents”. Olsson focussed on embodied practices, with information and knowledge involving the bodies of the people at the site. His methods for this study were ethnographic observation, interviews (sense making and conversational) and discourse analysis (of field notes, websites etc.).
Olsson pinpointed the critical moment where something is discovered in a trench, and a decision is made about whether to put it in the finds tray (at which point it becomes a document, a focus for information) or to put it on the spoils heap. Decisions about whether to select or discard are made based on personal expertise. There is a hierarchy of expertise (volunteer /trench leader /finds expert /site director). This sense making practice was embodied i.e. decisions were made on the look, feel and even taste of the item. Olsson gave the example of how you could tell something was a tool when you took it, and felt how it fitted in your hand.
A key point overall was that in making decisions about what an artefact was and whether to select it or not, people did not refer to outside information sources, and they did not tend to use technology: the information was gathered through bodily interaction with the artefact and the application of people's expert knowledge and experience. Part of learning to become an archaeologist was serving an apprenticeship where you got your hands dirty (literally) and learnt these practices (see the slide from his presentation, above).
There is an example of oner of Olsson's contributions to the Brogdar dig diary here:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bibliography on workplaceinformation literacy #i3rgu

I have previously blogged Information Literacy in the workplace: an annotated bibliography, by Dorothy Williams, Katie Cooper and Caroline Wavell, produced last year (2014) for InformAll. There was a session at the i3 conference when Katie Cooper and Stéphane Goldstein called for contributions to a 2015 edition, to be published in September/ October.
Information on the 2014 publication, and how to contribute to the 2015 one, is at
Photo by Sheila Webber: no drones at Dunnottir Castle! June 2015

Information literacy, evidence-based nursing and belongingness #i3rgu

Liveblogging the second day of the i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. Liz Hunwick presented on The role of the NHS library in the adaptation process of internationally recruited nurses from the Philippines: information literacy, evidence-based nursing and belongingness.
There are large numbers of nurses recruited from outside the UK to work in the UK's National Health Service (NHS). There is not research on international nurses information literacy/behaviour. Therefore this study is looking at their behaviour, and the role of the library. The specific context of research is the Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. There are local and a university-run induction/conversion programmes for nurses recruited by the hospital from other countries. Within this, there are two sessions on research and evidence based practice, but nothing specifically on information literacy.
Hunwick referred to definitions of information literacy and evidence based practice. With the latter, she used a definition which included a step at the start "cultivate a spirit of inquiry". She then talked about the role of the library and its role in evidence based practice. Reviewing the literature on nurses' information behaviour, studies have found that nurses often consult their peers, and there is a strong emphasis on convenience (with a lot of pressures on nurses' time). There are also issues to do with lack of management support, information being at the wrong level, lack of IT resources etc.
Moving on to the idea of "belongingness", Hunwick talked about Levett-Jones' (2009) model of belongingness. Belongingness and learning are linked. The elements in this model resonate with some of the research on good (e.g. inclusive environments) and bad (e.g. isolation, bullying) experiences in nursing.
Hunwick then identified some elements of Filipino culture, in particular how direct confrontation is avoided, and there is the concept of "kapwa" (respect for another person's being). Her own study is a case study with data collection methods including questionnaires, interviews, and observing statistics and logs of library use. A cohort of Filipino 61 nurses arriving at the hospital were targeted (46 of whom responded to the questionnaire part of her research). Themes which emerged from analysis included participants' concepts of IL and EBP, perceptions of the library, and the connection between educational provision and belongingness.
It emerged that the nurses' experience of libraries had been different before (with librarians less welcoming, libraries with more restricted resources). Nurses liked using the NHS library space and equipment like printers and scanners. They used Google most for online searching, and liked to use the library computers for this. The nurses were, generally, reluctant to ask for support, even from their mentors. Most nurses were familiar with the term Evidence Based Practice (EBP) but hadn't been encouraged to practice it in the Philippines.
In interviews, respondents did say how they were likely to say positive rather than negative things, so that has to be borne in mind when looking at results. However, as nurses spent longer in the UK, they became more open in their opinions.
Recommendations emerging from the study included: the vital role of mentors (not fully exploited at present), the need to develop the spirit of inquiry and the characteristics of a lifelong learner, and the need to foster librarians' behaviour and attitudes that encourage the nurses to have a feeling of belongingness.

Levett-Jones, T. and Lathlean, J. (2009).  The ascent to competence conceptual framework: an outcome study of belongingness. Journal of clinical nursing, 18, 2870-2879.

Experiencing HIV and AIDS information #i3rgu

More liveblogging day 2 of the i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. Kondwani Wella (the third of my PhD students presenting at this conference) is talking about Experiencing HIV and AIDS information: a phenomenological study of serodiscordant couples in Malawi.
He has been investigating how serodiscordant couples (that is, when one partner is HIV positive, and the other HIV negative) experience of HIV/AIDS information in Malawi, using a phenomenological approach. He had 45 participants, 21 couples and three people who had separated because of their HIV status. Their level of education varied from having no formal education, the majority who had primary or secondary education, to one couple where education was at university level. Kondwani described the data collection and analysis process, based primarily on Van Manen’s approach to phenomenological research.
He identified five lifeworld existentials (where they experienced information): lived body (which, for example, might reveal or conceal HIV/AIDS); lived others (e.g. nurses, community, family); lived spaces; lived time (e.g. truncated lifespan) and spirituality (God and ancestral spirits). The last existential was a new thing which emerged specifically from Kondwani’s research.
In terms of HIV/AIDS information availability, for example, there was a lack of availability (with information aimed at couples where both were HIV positive), the HIV negative partner’s needs might be overlooked or denied. There were also barriers e.g. print sources were inaccessible to illiterate people; hospitals etc. had to be travelled to; some information was in English or was too technical.
Kondwani presenting the graphic of his overall conceptual framework for information experience, an iterative model which includes stages of anticipation, filtering, evaluation, interaction, acting on information and reflection.
He finished by identifying some practical implications. Firstly, there needed to be collaboration with faith based organisations (because of spiritua;ity's importance in people's lives). Secondly, HIV/AIDS information services needed to use participative approaches. Thirdly, information communication should aim at informing everyday talk (because the community and family had a big impact on people's lives and behaviour). Finally, information services could use Kondwani's model in designing services.
Photo by Sheila Webber: through a window at Dunnottir castle, June 2015

How do cultural differences and cognitive styles affect online information searching behaviour? #i3rgu

I’m liveblogging from the i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. The next short paper is from Sara Chizari (PhD student at the University of South Carolina and a Sheffield University alumna ;-) on How do cultural differences and cognitive styles affect online information searching behaviour? A case study of American, Chinese and Iranian graduate students. Her theoretical framework is Nisbett's cultural cognition theory (2001) (proposing that Westerners tend to have more analytic cognitive styles than East Asians). She invited 10 participants from each of the three ethnic groups to undertake searches in a lab where the computers had logging and eye tracking software. The participants' disciplines were either Engineering or Social sciences. There was a pre-test questionnaire, and then they each undertook four tasks, using Google: they had remembering, understanding, analysing and evaluating tasks.
Chizari is still analysing the data, and has not finished her reseach, but has emerging results. In terms of activities (e.g. mouse clicks, time, right click searching, query reformulation) there was the lowest level of activity amongst the Americans (that's people who have grown up in the USA), then the Iranians and the most active were the Chinese participants. An ANOVA analysis showed that there WAS a statistically significant difference between nationalities. The next phase of the research will include asking the Iranians and Chinese to do searches in their mother languages.
Photo by Sheila Webber: chair in one of the few places that had a roof, at Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland, June 2015

How personal reputations are determined and managed online #i3rgu

I’m liveblogging from the i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. Frances Ryan presented a paper coauthored with Hazel Hall, Alistair Lawson and Peter Cruickshank on Assessing the available and accessible evidence: How personal reputations are determined and managed online. Her presentation is already on slideshare at with lots of references at the end.
The key terms she defined were “Identity”, “Reputation” and “Real world”. With the latter term, there are blurred lines between online and offline environments (as people are active, and may have reputations, both online and offline), and the question “If you’re not online, are you real” has emerged (e.g. employers looking online for evidence of expertise). She was drawing on literature from several disciplinary fields. This review of the literature shows that: employers do conduct social media reviews, and not just before people take up their jobs; friend and friends of friends can have an impact on your reputation (including – who are you not connected with and; considering you responsible for the actions of people you are connected with); there are issues around anonymity and pseudonyms; the extent of self-regulation and censorship.
The gaps that Ryan had identified for the doctoral study she’s undertaking including various aspects of how and why people are managing their reputations. She is also looking at how people assess the reputations of others. Ryan is at the pilot study stage, using mainly qualitative approach. She was welcoming suggestions for sample and methods!

Photo by Sheila Webber: through a window at Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland, June 2015

Building a dependable digital future #i3rgu

I’m liveblogging day 2 of the i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. Today's keynote was William Kilbride with a talk entitled Sic transit gloria digitis: building a dependable digital future?. As usual, this is liveblogging, so it is just my impression, and as this is not a core area of mine, apologies for mistakes!
Kilbride is Executive Director of the Digital Preservation Coalition. The "aim of the Digital Preservation Coalition is to secure the preservation of digital resources in the UK and to work with others internationally to secure our global digital memory and knowledge base."
He started by exploring the phrase "data is the new oil": was data abundant? was it inexhautible? could useful information be easily extracted? He identified the problem of web links disappearing: in particular giving the example of information used to respond to parliamentary questions i.e. information that it is important to be able to refer to for a period of time. Thus he characterised data as fragile.
Kilbride went on to talk about myths of digital preservation. He referred to an article by Chris Rusbridge which discussed these myths, and he focused on a few of them. For example "file formats are always changing". However, it is more nuanced than this: there are more robust formats, proliferating formats (e.g. types of .tif) etc. Kilbride then cited a paper by Malcolm Todd. Todd proposed on managing data flows and having a preservation strategy focused on your own capacity and needs. This was more important that worrying about controlling file formats.
Kilbride looked at the issue of whether digital preservation was expensive. It is often perceived as expensive, but restoring and preserving physical documents, objects and structures tends to be more expensive. He contrasted the cost of the Archaeology Data Service website with the cost of preserving the items in the museums collection of a major city. At this point Kilbride mentioned the 4Cproject (Collaboration to Clarify the Costs of Curation).
He discussed issues around metadata e.g. should the data be characterised before it goes into the repository, or can you leave it til it's in the repository? With changes in the types of data etc. the data may need to be recharacterised: Kilbride posed the question - at what point does metadata become a problem rather than a solution?
An interesting conclusion was that he could "no longer distinguish" between data, systems and services (he gave the example of cloud computing being a service rather than a product). They were becoming interdependent, and this meant some rethinking of what data was and how you preserve it: what is it you were wanting to preserve? It was also important to remember why you were preserving data and to think about the people factors (perhaps coming back to the socio-cultural perspective mentioned by Olof Sundin in the first keynote).

Further links mentioned by Kilbride that you might find interesting: TIMBUS project; OAIS Reference Model
Photo by Sheila Webber: the speaker glimpsed over the top of my blogger's netbook

Conceptions of the Information literate teacher by teacher trainees at a Ghanaian University #i3rgu

Liveblogging the second day of the i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. Joseph Essel (one of my PhD students, in the University of Sheffield Information School) talked about Conceptions of the Information literate teacher by teacher trainees at a Ghanaian University. This is a phenomenographic study, investigating the variation in conceptions of the information literate teacher of trainee teachers in Winneba Univerity, Ghana.
He started by talking about the background to the study, including the changing information and teaching landscape, and the need for teachers to be information literate in order to develop information literate students. He identified that information literacy (IL) may not be well understood in developing countries, and that the conception of the information literate teacher has not been studied. The University of Education Winneba does aim to develop their trainee teachers as information literates, but there had not been extensive work to achieve this at the time of the study. Joseph went on to explain the nature of phenomenography, a qualitative approach which gives insight into the different ways in which people experience or conceive of a phenomenon.
25 participants (trainee teachers) were interviewed. Ages ranged from 25 to 42 (with 11 females and14 males), with a varied amount of teaching experience and teaching 12 different subjects between them. Five different conceptions of the information literate teacher were discovered:
1. Linguistic conception: the information literate teacher (ILT) is seen as knowing and speaking English (since this allowed you to access information in thre first place, and you also needed English to function effectively as a teacher)
2. ICT and information retrieval conception: ILT conceived of as being aware of ICT tools and able to use them
3. Critical awareness conception - acquiring the mindset to be able to evaluate and filter the information
4. Knowledge building conception, with the ILT deepening knowledge to become well informed
5. Professional growth category, with the ILT applying information to develop professional skills and knowledge, and becoming a professional teacher.
This is an inclusive hierarchy, with the first category including the second, the top category (category 5) including all the previous ones.

Photo by Sheila Webber: through a window in Dunnottar Castle, Scotland, June 2015

Teenagers and teachers’ information searching behaviour #i3rgu

A second day of liveblogging from the i3 conference at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland started for me with Pia Borlund talking on School children (teenagers) and teachers’ information searching behaviour: a meta-evaluation of simulated work task situations in the school context. This was focused on research which aimed to improve the way in which experimental studies of information seeking were carried out.
Borlund started by explaining that the Retrieval Evaluation in Context (REX) project aims to increase the research standard of interactive information retrieval (IR) IR projects, improving requirements for the use of a simulated work task situation. A simulated work task situation (SWTS) is a “description of a scenario that invites the test participant to search for information”: something which may be used in evaluating an IR system, or carrying out some types of information seeking studies.
Borlund gave an example of an SWTS and highlighted how the situation should be something that the searcher can identify with, of topical interest, and with enough context for him/her to understand the situation. However it was also necessary to “include test participants personal information needs as baseline”, to pilot, to rotate the order of tasks, and to report the SWTS when presenting results.
This leads to Borlund’s aim “how to frame different types of information needs in SWTS.” Her own study involved 25 teenagers and 6 teachers, from a Danish school. Each had searches , with 3 SWTS and 1 personal information need. There was a pre search questionnaire, logging of search interaction and post search interviews. The 3 SWTS used one each of needs identified by Ingwersen: verificative (checking something factual), muddled (searching new topic to you) and conscious topical (a topic known to you). Borlund set different scenarios for the teachers and teenagers.
As an example, the “muddled” SWTS for the teachers was about the upcoming Danish curriculum reforms (thus it was directly relevant to them as teachers). She found it most difficult to find a verificative scenario that was relevant to the teenagers (something that they both didn’t know and might be expected to be interested in personally).
When Borlund compared the log data for the three types of search she used the variables: Number of search terms used, no. of unique search terms, no. of search iterations, no. of favourites and time spent searching. She also compared the search behaviour with the personal information need and the SWTS, the results correlated, which was seen as validating the search behaviour in the SWTS as being realistic. Borlund found that both groups’ search behaviour varied across the 3 types of search, and also the search behaviour of teenagers and teachers differed. The teenagers spent a lot less time on searching than the teachers did, on all searches (e.g. 4.33 vs. 13.36 minutes on average for the muddled topic). It is often assumed that amount of time spent is an indication of interest, however it did seem to be a different search style (e.g. the teenagers did more clicking of pictures, and one said “I don’t have to read it now, now I know where to find it” i.e. assuming that reading and understanding was not part of the task).
As part of the evaluating the SWTS, Borlund compared the scale (high, low or medium) of the 5 variables (no. of search terms etc.) with what was predicted: this identified potential issues with the nature of the task (e.g. whether the “muddled” scenario could be answered rather as a fact-finding scenario) . The interviews also gave insight into how useful the SWTS were.
Borlund gave several conclusions, which were recommendations for this kind of study involving SWTS. Unfortunately these whizzed off the screen before I had time to note them down, but they flowed out of her presentation e.g. advising getting even more information from participants to tailor the SWTS effectively; that it was valuable to include a personal information need search; the importance of piloting and using questionnaire/interviews.
Photo by Sheila Webber: window in Dunnottir castle, Scotland, June 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Members of the Scottish Parliament on Twitter: constituency champions or party animals? #i3rgu

More liveblogging from the i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. Graeme Baxter, Rita Marcella and Mary O'Shea had authored the next presentation on Members of the Scottish Parliament on Twitter: constituency champions or party animals?. The presentation started by highlighting that Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) have been identified as users of ICTs and specifically social media. However, studies have tended to focus on usage during election campaigns rather than during "peace time".
A previous study of voters' information needs, by the authors, had identified a gap between voters' needs and the politicians' information provision. In particular, people wanted information relating to their local constituency.
The present study was looking at MSPs Twitter use, to compare with a previous study of MSPs Twitter use during an election, and to see whether they were covering local constituency issues. The researchers looked at a 4 week period January-February 2014. It is worth noting that, although there wasn’t an election taking place shortly, this was a period when their was the long campaign leading to the Scottish independence referendum (asking voters whether Scotland should be an independent nation, which took place September 2014). Tweeting MSPs were identified, and tweets were analysed primarily manually. Each tweet was coded using a coding framework. It was then put into SPSS for quantitative analysis. The authors were drawing on a previous study of members’ use of social media by Norton (2013) who listed constituency roles including information provider and promoter of constituency interests.
81% of MSPs were identified as having a Twitter account (a small majority having adopted it since they became MSPs). In the 4 week period 10,404 tweets were sent. Number of posts varied from none, to hundreds. They had an average of 3,000 followers. In terms of the nature of the information exchange, 14.8% were primarily broadcast posts (their thoughts and opinions), 65.9% were retweets, links etc.; 12.7% were interaction with others; 6.5% were "unreciprocated engagement" e.g. following celebrities etc. and attempting to engage with them (mostly they get ignored). Thus overall most of the tweets are broadcast types (retweets etc. plus broadcast).
Comparison with their activity during an election campaign shows they are tweeting more but there is less enagagement or dialogue with others (it was 18.2% in the previous study). When looking specifically at constituency-related tweets; sports results and referendum and by-election campaigning were both excluded
However, when you excluded these, there was not much going on! They were mostly advertising their regular constituency surgeries, or commenting on local campaigns that they happen to be engaged with (e.g. bus routes; library cuts). However, they were more likely to tweet about sport, popular culture or what they were doing (e.g. soup for tea!) The 105 MSPs made 741 constituency-related secondary posting (e.g. retweeting local weather warnings; local crime appeals and warnings; new or threatened public services; human interest stories). However tweets about the referedum and Scottish-wide policies far outnumbered tweets on local issues.
Finally they did some “mystery shopper” type attempts to engage with MSPs. One was arounf the issue of the Red Road flats (which were going to be demolished) “Was safety the real reason for the Red Road u-turn” – 7 MSPs were contacted, none responded. It is felt that MSPs are reluctant to engage with sensitive issues. An insight is given by looking at the Twitter stream of MSP Kezia Dugdale who was more actively engaged, but then started getting a high volume of tweets, including some highly abusive tweets. She eventually withdrew from the free interaction.
Conclusions are that MSPs have become more frequent users of Twitter, but with an even bigger emphasis on one-way communication. However you have to acknowledge the restrictions of the 140 character tweet and the potential genuine problems facing genuine interaction. Also, although this was selected as a “peace time” period (with no immenent election) in fact the tweets showed that a lot of work was going into the campaign for the September independence referedum.
There were interesting questions at the end, for example about the extent people were following the party line on social media strategy, whether their status in the party affected how they might tweet.

Photo by Sheila Webber: Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland, June 2015

Assessing children’s IL skills: Findings from a multiple case study of six primary schools in Pakistan #i3rgu

Liveblogging from the i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. Syeda Hina Shahid is one of my doctoral students at Sheffield University in the Information School, and is also a faculty member at the University of the Punjab, Pakistan. Her talk, which reported on some of her research findings, was Assessing children’s IL skills: Findings from a multiple case study of six primary schools in Pakistan. A large proportion of the population in Pakistan do not have education past primary level, and therefore looking at information literacy at this level is particularly important. There is also a lack of research into information literacy in Pakistani schools. Syeda has carried out six case studies, in different kinds of primary school (both public and private), investigating the information literacy of school children in her home city of Lahore, Pakistan. She interviewed teachers and (where there was one) the librarian, conducted focus groups and task-based activities with the children, and looked at documents and the physical setting of the school. It is worth noting that some of these schools had a lack of resources for students and teachers to use, but Syeda also included (for example) an elite school.
In this talk, Syeda focused on the task based activities with the children. She had devised exercises based on existing frameworks for primary schools and she gave examples of how the children had responded to activities. For example, in one activity she read out a story about a lion, and asked the children to draw a lion, house and food. There were different levels in their response, not following instructions at all (drawing something completely different) through to combining background knowledge, and using all the information from the story. She had developed a model identifying thesedifferent levels.
She finished by identifying that her research should contribute to local literature and practice, as well as contributing to the knowledge of IL more widely.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland, June 2015

The impact of community grassroots campaigns on public library closures in the UK #i3rgu

Liveblogging from the i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. The next presentation is John Mowbray and Hazel Hall (Napier University) on The impact of community grassroots campaigns on public library closures in the UK. This was based on research undertaken at Strathclyde University.
The research context were the threats to libraries and actual closures of public libraries in 2014/2015. This had led to a lot of grassroots community campaigns to try and save libraries. The research aimed to discover theimpact of these campaigns. This included looking at newspaper coverage. Looking first at grassroots activism: research shows that non-violent protest gets more public approval, and lobbying and social media can have an impact of policy making. Also a previous thesis on how news sources covered library closure showed that nostalgia stories and celebrity endorsement tended to dominant press coverage. The methods for his own research was a survey questionnaire to get in contact with grassroots activists. He used a "Library Campaign" online directory and used a snowballing approach to identify any other activists. 57 groups were contacted: 68 individuals responded from 24 regional authorities. He then carried out copmparative case studies by doing content analysis of newspaper reports in Newcastle upon Tyne and Lincolnshire, covering a 6 month time period.
In the first part of the study 34% had previous experience of grassroots activism, and 53% were founding members of the campaign. In terms of why people got involved, reasons included: lack of public facilities; personal responsibility; resistence to council "bullying" and intrasigence; having experienced a benefit for libraries personally. Lobbying MPs and members, public meetings, petitioning and social media campaigning were all highly used. Barriers included: lack of people willing to commit a lot of time (with burden falling on a few); people unwilling to challenge "austerity is necessary" narrative; ignorance of local authority elected members (with councillors ignoring the public's concerns).
In terms of regional news coverage (the 2nd stage of the research) there was varied coverage between different regional newspapers with some (e.g. Lincolnshire Echo) having a larger number (58 in that case). Text analysis showed that articles were heavily weighted towards those who were against the closures. Library advocacy from grassroots was the majority (e.g. 73% of articles in the Evening Chronicle). However, a low percentage were advocacy specifically from library professionals.
In conclusion, despite this it seemed the library decision makers mostly ignored this and seemed determined to close the libraries!
Photo by Sheila Webber: Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland, June 2015

Challenging Information Literacies for a Democratic Society #i3rgu

I’m liveblogging from the i3 conference held this week at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. The three "i"s are: Information: Interactions and Impact, and I think I've been to all of the i3 conferences, which take place every two years. The conference was opened by Peter Reid (RGU) the conference chair.
The first keynote was Olof Sundin (Lund University, Sweden) on Challenging Information Literacies for a Democratic Society. This is a long liveblog, reflecting his rich presentation, but remember this is a liveblog with my impressions captured in the moment!
He started by talking about his background and interests, for example his cultural science focus. He posed the question: How can IL research make a difference and how can it provide some answers to the big issues that contemporary society is facing. This is indeed a big question and flags up that researchers should not be afraid of these major issues, and should be prepared to be challenging and be challenged.
He went on to talk about how social, technical, and economic changes are affecting how we evaluate and perceive information. For example there are challenges to the authority of what libraries hold and what teachers say. Thus "The questions we (IL researchers) ask couldn't be more important": however information literacy researchers seem to have problems reaching outside our own field.
Sundin charted how he had reached his current position. He sees himself as someone who researches from a socio-cultural perspective: he has "an interest in new orders of knowledge that follow with the digitisation of information" - and how these reconfigure practices with information. Information literacy, for him, gives him a purpose beyond information seeking. He noted that the amount of (competing) subfields in information research could be unhelpful. More specifically, Sundin mentioned his research had been investigating "IL and source criticism in school settings" and, following on from that, looking at the construction of knowledge in particular involving key encyclopeadia sources such as Wikipedia. His third theme is trust and the role of searching, with the huge growth of use of search engines.
Sundin moved on to reflect on the nature of IL research. He mentioned the "IL bashing genre" ie that many authors have identified weaknesses in IL and IL research. Elements that have been criticised include the weakness of theory, the fragmentation of the field, and lack of funded research. He felt that we needed to pay more attention to linking and poisitioning our research field in relation to policy and related research areas (e.g. investigating different literacies, such as media literacy).
However, Sundin also identified strengths for IL research. This included: "indepth empirical understanding" of some contexts e.g. IL in formal education. There was also a broader focus for research (e.g. workplace IL). He also felt that there had been theoretical and methodological development, for example with a wide range of methods used to explore research problems. Lastly he saw a high societal relevance of IL.
Sundin felt that there were three levels of IL: institutional (as a kind of label, to indicate a particular subject area); at an empirical level (with different strands ofresearch); and at a theoretical level. Sundin emphasised that all three levels were valid; once should not dismiss the first two levels and focus only on theory (or lack of it).
Sundin turned again to his own research, and made links with new literacies research and socio-cultural approaches, amongst others. He quoted Christine Bruce (1997) in identifying that the "technologies of literacies" now had to be examined as part of literacies. This did not mean only focusing on technology, but having to include technology practices when attending to information practice.
Following on from this, Google is an "obligatory passage point" (quote from Mager, 2009) for many people today. He then quoted Van Dijck (2010) who talked about knowledge being coproduced with search engines, because we interact with them through the "black box" of their search algorithms and ranking systems. These search engines will be (so to be speak) making decisions about what is presented to us as a result of a search, in a way that is hidden to us.
It is this aspect that has made the act of searching more interesting to Sundin "a practice that defines our times" with the "searchification of everyday life". Increasingly, search has a limited number of starting points, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. He mentioned how encyclopaedia searches start out often as Google searches (I remember there are research articles with evidence on this, people google and then find teh link to Wikipedia). This also de-contextualises the information (whereever it was published, it ends up being part of a hit list).
As the complement to "search-ification" Sundin also presented the "Everyday-ification of search" as for many people searching (e.g. via mobile) have become incorporated in to the "background places and spaces" of people's lives. Therefore they accept search engine results, possibly without criticism.
Sundin went on to talk about his current research work: Knowledege in a digital world: trust, credibility and relevance on the web. 128 people have participated in 21 gocus groups. They were asked about the role of search engines in their lives. Google was always present: mobile has been key in this "once you have it [smartphone] you can't live without it" said one participant. Search was seen as going on all the time, unless you physically couldn't access the internet. This leads to (unconscious) trust in the search engines to present the right information.
Sundin felt this meant we were "Outsourcing critical evaluation of sources to the principles of Google", and he referenced other scholars when presenting his argument that this meant we were seeing more decontextualised information, leading to more fragmented understanding. This comes round again to "Google as an obligatory passage point" - but whilst Google knows a lot about us, we don't know enough about Google and how it works.
Finally Sundin referenced a forthcoming article (by him) which analysed the Swedish curriculum documents for evidence of topics concerning information literacy and searching. He identified that the curriculum requires critical abilities in evaluating sources, but the process of searching was seen a skill to acquire, rather than something that also had to be engaged with critically. For Sundin, searching could no longer be seen as a neutral infrastructure, and the sources and searching both had to be seen critically. Part of the role of the information literacy researcher can be to open up the black box of the search engine and study it in its socio-cultural context.

Sundin closed by saying that he did information literacy research to contribute to a democratic society. "A standpoint we should not be afraid of taking". We should seek legitimacy in the professional, policy, national research and international arenas. He urged us to identify important research questions in our field, and make connections with scholars in related fields, being assertive about the contribution that information literacy researchers can make. "Let's be bold, let's be complicated and don't be afraid of taking a stand".
Photo by Sheila Webber: through a window at Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland, June 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week 22-28 June #milweek

The 4th annual Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week starts tomorrow, and runs June 22-28, 2015. Events include the NAMLE (US) National Association for Media Literacy Education) Conference taking place June 26-27, 2015 in Philadelphia, USA. It includes a focus on MIL and Intercultural Dialogue (MILID) with some interesting panel sessions and presentations. As you might expect, given the organisers, the strength of the conference is more in media and digital literacy than information literacy. The website for MIL week 2015 is at and it includes the 10 Ways to Celebrate MIL Week advice sheet at
Photo by Sheila Webber: rose in my garden, June 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

Zurkowski's book

A book containing Paul Zurkowski's seminal paper on information literacy, plus various more recent papers by him, can be obtained from the online bookseller of your choice.
Kelly, J.V. and Zurkowski, P. (2015) Zurkowski's 40 Year Information Literacy Movement Fueling the Next 40 Years of Action Literacy: Empowering "We the People" in the Information Age. All Good Literacies Press. 978-0692350775. The Amazon UK prices are £16.53 for the paperback and £3.24 for the Kindle edition.
Positively the last picture of daisies in the grass, June 2015

Threshold Concepts in the Information Literacy Classroom; and Teaching Toolkit

A priced ($250) online course is offered via Library Juice Academy: Threshold Concepts in the Information Literacy Classroom: Translating the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy into Our Teaching Practices. The course leader is Andrea Baer. "In this 6-week interactive workshop, participants will explore ways that the ACRL Framework does and can inform their teaching practices. Reflecting on the specific contexts and environments in which they work, participants will share their interpretations and applications of the Framework. In addition to engaging in readings and discussions related to the Framework, individuals will develop an instructional activity or lesson plan that relates to one or more of the ACRL Framework’s threshold concepts. In developing these instructional plans, participants will give particular attention to articulating student learning outcomes and developing activities that enable authentic assessment of learning." More information at
Dates: July 6 to August 14, 2015
Dates: August 3rd to September 13, 2015
Also in August (3-28) there is Transforming Your Teaching Toolkit, led by Maria Accardi ($175) see
Photo by Sheila Webber: yet more daisies, this time in Edinburgh, June 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015

STEM in libraries - Translating STEM into informal education: Chat 23 June

There is a chat via Adobe Connect about STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)in libraries - Translating STEM into informal education organised by the ACRL STS Information Literacy Chat sub-committee on 23 June at 2-3PM US Central time (which is 3-4pm US Eastern time, 8-9pm UK time). The discussion is led by Stephanie Long, Children’s Services Supervisor and STEM Lab Director at Frederick County Public Library. "To add fuel for the discussion please check out this website resource: STEM is a buzz word heard in many places and it has become the focus of many education platforms across the country. Like many libraries across the country, Frederick County Public Libraries in Maryland has decided to focus much of its educational efforts on STEM and is home to one of the first STEM Labs in the state. A dedicated space to STEM education for those aged preschool to 18, the STEM Lab is an ever evolving space that aims to educate kids on STEM concepts in an informal and fun way. In this discussion, STEM Lab creator and director Stephanie Long will give an overview of the Lab, how it began, where it is headed, and how the education of both librarians and patrons happens in the space. There will also be plenty of time for questions and open discussion on the STEM Lab and STEM in libraries."Use this web address "If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before: Test your connection: Get a quick overview: "
Photo by Sheila Webber: Arthur's seat, Edinburgh, June 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Grassian and Baer: people of the moment

ACRL's June 2015 Teaching Librarian of the Month is Andrea Baer of Indiana University Libraries and there is an interview with her at Selected quote "I try to foster an environment in which people feel their ideas are valued and are focused on developing and sharing their own ideas, while listening and responding openly and critically to the ideas of others"
Another information literacy star is ACRL member of the week: Esther Grassian, and there is an interview with her at Selected quote "Academic/research librarians make a tremendous difference in the lives and success of students, staff, and faculty, helping them leap “thresholds” of all kinds"
Photo by Sheila Webber: and yet more daisies in the grass (it seems a bumper year for them!), June 2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Adult Learners' Week #lovetolearn

On the same theme as the last post - this is Adult Learners' Week in the UK. If you are based in the UK, you can look for courses and events in your area.

Adult literacy and learning

ALADIN, the international Adult Learning Documentation and Information Network, "has been established to support networking and capacity building between documentation centres and libraries in the area of adult learning and literacy." They started a bulletin with links to reports and articles this year and just published the fourth one
Photo by Sheila Webber: daisies in the grass, photoshopped

Monday, June 15, 2015

Teachmeet, 24 June, last tickets!

Ponteland High School (Ponteland, UK) is hosting a Lib TeachMeet on 24 June, 1:30pm - 4pm. "A chance for librarians from the region (and beyond) to meet up, share experiences of teaching information skills, activities and library events. Even just to help each other out." Visit the Eventbrite page to book a place
Photo by Sheila Webber: daisies in the grass, Sheffield, June 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Journal of Information Literacy latest issue

The latest issue of the open access Journal of Information Literacy has been published (volume 9, no. 1, 2015). Articles include:
- The Amazing Library Race: tracking student engagement and learning comprehension in library orientations by Katherine Boss, Katelyn Angell, Eamon Tewell
- How much do first-year undergraduate students in Norway know about information literacy? by Ellen Nierenberg, Øyvind Gjems Fjeldbu
- The impact of library information literacy classes on first year students’ searching behaviour by Torunn Skofsrud Boger, Hanne Dybvik, Anne-Lise Eng, Else Helene Norheim
- Using an information literacy curriculum map as a means of communication and accountability for stakeholders in higher education by Leslin H Charles
- Refining the definition of information literacy: the experience of contextual knowledge creation by Marc Forster
- Evidence-based instruction: assessing student work using rubrics and citation analysis to inform instructional design by Alan Carbery, Sean Leahy
There are also conference reports and book reviews
Photo by Sheila Webber: wild rose, Sheffield, June 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

Research minded: understanding, supporting, conducting research #researchminded

I'm liveblogging from the EAHIL + ICAHIS + ICLC 2015 Workshop in Edinburgh: I will be catching up with blogging the workshops at this conference over the next day or two, by the way. In the final plenary today, Dr Liz Grant (Assistant Principal, Director Global Health Academy, University of Edinburgh) talked about Research minded: understanding, supporting, conducting research. She started by quoting T.S. Elliot (the lines "We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our rexploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time". This encapsulated some of her ideas about research and its outcomes.
Grant went on to talk about the goals of the Global Health Academy. It brought together staff, students and practitioners from different disciplines, and had 3 premises. The first was the equality of humanity (but we are born into unequal circumstances, so, you should try and make circumstances more equal for people). The 2nd premise was that many solutions are in the world already, but may be overlooked, perhaps are in unexpected places, or in different place to the one where it is needed. This obviously links to use of information. The 3rd premise was that "people in partnerships bring about change: investing in people to share knowledge across boundaries is essential": there needed to be collaborations across nations and disciplines to meet the many 21st challenges.
Grant went on to talk about the Millenium Development Goals and the extent to which, firstly they have not all been met, and secondly some statistics might be questioned. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are about to take over from MDGs: the 3rd of these SDGs is "Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages". This SDG3 includes, e.g., goals to do with non-communicable diseases, use of alcohol, infant mortality. However: how can these be achieved? For example "Universal Health Coverage" is seen as essential for "healthy lives for all" but is complex and difficult to achieve. Grant said that her own field was end of life care, and she had seen the cycle of poverty caused by healthcare systems that were not free.
Grant talked about three things that can help. Firstly, "Task shifting transformed to task sharing": this involved recognising the value of different types of skill or task, so there was equality in partnerships. This also involved using information differently, and crossing disciplinary/knowledge silos.
Secondly, there needed to be a "Continuity and continuum of care". She gave the example of newborn and child health, where you had to think of the continuum of support and care, not focusing on vulnerable points (e.g. birth) in a disconnected way. The third and final element was "Quality care that is compassionate": understanding that transmitting knowledge is not enough, and you needed understanding and engagement, so that there could be compassion in the approach to healthcare." You can demonstrate to researchers that using knowledge compassionately is transformative - information doesn't sit on a page"
So, coming back to the Elliot quote, Grant urged us to look in unusual palaces for solutions, to listen, to recognise resources that are there and to partner in equality. Through this, we can take what we have now, and make a change.
Photo by Sheila Webber: plaque for the Scottish writer and physician, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes), in the square by the conference venues.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Running a journal club #researchminded

Yesterday, at the EAHIL + ICAHIS + ICLC 2015 Workshop in Edinburgh, Marshall Dozier (Edinburgh University) and I led a session on running a journal club (the picture shows the nice view out of the seminar room window). We ran a short example of a journal club at the start of the session, discussing:
Kean, E.B. (2013). Assessment and impact of a new role as an embedded librarian in nursing online journal clubs. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 101(4), 335-338.

We gathered tips from participants and will post those up shortly. We also produced a handout with a list of relevant articles and links. I have embedded it below.

Qualitative research methods: interviewing as a way of learning and knowing #researchminded

Again I'm liveblogging a keynote from the EAHIL + ICAHIS + ICLC 2015 Workshop in Edinburgh. Johanna Rivano Eckerdal was talking about Qualitative research methods: interviewing as a way of learning and knowing.
She started by talking about how she became interested in qualitative research. This was when she was alibrarian, working with young people, and observing that they didn't seem so interested in what librarians had to offer. This made her curious about exploring issues of information literacy, and joined a PhD programme. This research was ethnographic research into young women's choices about contraception (which I've blogged before, the citation is at the end of this post).
She quoted Denzin and Lincoln, emphasising that qualitative approaches aim to uncover meaning. Eckerdal listed various kinds of approaches and data collection methods used in qualitative methods. She picked up a point made earlier by Alison Brettle, that your overall standpoint as a researcher (your view of the world and what reality and knowledge are) determines how you will talk about your research and data.
The particular focus of this presentation was interviewing. Interviews occur in context, and that is where they have key value (in helping to understanding a person in context). By interviewing we are getting to know what what people think: even if they don't say exactly what they think, communication is occurring and there can be insights.
Kvale's two metaphors for interviewing were given (interviewer as miner or traveller; seeing interviewing respectively as knowledge collection or knowledge (co)production). In the latter view, the interview is seen as a discourse, a narrative, in which both interviewer and interviewee participate.
Eckerdal gave an example from her own research, showing "understanding being created during an interview" as the interviewee talks about how she feels about contraception, finally coming up of the metaphor of "personal bodyguard". This was a metaphor, but also expressed the reality of the situation for the young women. Eckerdal also talked about the issue of the power balance between interviewer and interviewee: power is generally with the interviewer, and to encourage a meaningful discourse, the interviewer can seek to make the power balance more equal. She gave an example of asking interviewees drawing information sources horizon maps (there is an article about this here) and of their own situation. These pictures, drawn by the interviewee, could be triggers for narratives, to go deeper and get the interviewees more active in the knowledge production.
Eckerdal also talked about the importance of being transparent about the research, with the participants and with others who are reading about the research. She identified that all research has limitations: if we expect research to always give definite answers, we will be disappointed. A strong theme from her talk was research as a way of learning, and that qualitative research enables both researchers and participants to get insights into the way they engage with information in their lives.

Eckerdal, J.R. (2011). "To jointly negotiate a personal decision: a qualitative study on information literacy practices in midwifery counselling about contraceptives at youth centres in Southern Sweden" Information Research, 16(1) paper 466.
Photo by Sheila Webber: spring herbs and flowers, June 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Incorporating a research-minded approach to professional practice #researchminded

This week I will be doing some liveblogging from the EAHIL + ICAHIS + ICLC 2015 Workshop in Edinburgh. This mainly consists of workshops, which I will blog about afterwards rather than liveblogging. However there are some interesting keynotes, and I aim to liveblog those.The hashtag is #researchminded

The opening keynote was from Professor Hazel Hall (Edinburgh Napier University) talking about: Incorporating a research-minded approach to professional practice. She started by talking about the four Edinburgh Universities (Heriot-Watt, Queen Margaret, Edinburgh Napier and Edinburgh Universities), highlighting the medical and healthcare faculties, the importance of Edinburgh medical research discoveries and her own personal connections (her father was a vet, graduating from Edinburgh!)
Turning to ther main topic of her talk, she described the work of the Library and Information Science Research Coalition, which has a website at - there is a lot of information about it there, so I won't repeat it all here. Hazel was seconded part time to direct it the coalition, in particular to prepare the bids for, and implement, the RiLIES and the follow-on DREAM projects Hazel also highlighted the @LISResearch twitter feed, which I certainly find useful to follow to get news about library and information research.
The Coalition's main aims were "to facilitate a co-ordinated and strategic approach to LIS research across the UK." and specifically to: "bring together information about LIS research opportunities and results; encourage dialogue between research funders; promote LIS practitioner research and the translation of research outcomes into practice; articulate a strategic approach to LIS research;promote the development of research capacity in LIS."
Hazel identified that the Coalition was keen to enable people to make better use of exisiting research, to help improve service delivery, and use the evidence base to justify services' existence and development. It was felt that part of this could be done by improving access to research resources, and there are links and resources on the Coalition website. The website has not been updated since the project finished in 2012, but it still is getting hits and people find it useful.
The second strand was developing practitioner-led research, on the grounds that carrying out research can have benefits for the organisation, the service and the individual practitioner-researcher. Benefits for the individual can include being able to talk to academics about research, your job satisfaction and potential career progression.
Hazel moved on to talk in more detail about the DREAM project. It had a conference, 3 workshop events (where people had to commit to attend all three workshops) and another conference. These included expert sessions on a variety of research approaches (you can see details of workshops on the DREAM website, including videos and presentations), one-minute madness sessions, and participant research presentations.
Hazel finished by talking about the impact of the project (e.g. work by the "DREAMers"), and said that they were now doing an impact study (just about to be launched) which involves a questionnaire and focus groups. She then urged everyone to make the most of the research focus of the conference, for learning and networking.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Pollack Halls, where I'm staying during the conference.