Libraries, Learning and Teaching

A higher education librarian's reflections

Reflecting on LILAC #lilac16

I have recently returned from LILAC – Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference – in Dublin, and it seemed sensible to kickstart this blog with a reflection on the event, not least because reflection was one of the themes which seemed to run through it.

This was my first time at LILAC (though I have wanted to attend for a while) and I was also presenting. Unluckily for me, my presentation was in the final parallel session of the final day, which meant it was hanging over me for the rest of the time out there. It was also my first time in Dublin, which I found to be a beautiful and very welcoming city.

So, reflections. What did I take away from the dozen or so sessions that I attended? I have many notes, but my key thoughts follow

  • A spirit of playfulness is not at all contrary to the intention to teach and/or learn, and can be harnessed to create meaningful learning. Everyone is creative (it is not the same thing as artistic) and appealing to this is a worthwhile endeavour.
  • The teaching and training we offer could make use of the concept of the “magic circle” (from game theory), specifically the idea that the classroom is a place where failure is allowed and therefore not to be feared. After all, failure is definitely something which can be learned from. I just need to work out how to make this clear without it sounding silly!
  • It is important to remember the emotional aspect of teaching and training, for ourselves and for our students. Librarians often experience anxiety around teaching (largely due to the relative lack of training we have in this area), but students are also often anxious, whether it be about computer use or the research process. Being aware of and helping to address these emotional aspects in ourselves and others can be transformative.
  • Reflection, reflection, reflection. Important again, both for ourselves (what works, what doesn’t, what we can do about it) and for our students (what they have learned, how to apply it).
  • When talking about copyright and other exciting legal areas, it is always better to focus on what CAN be done rather than what can’t. Sometimes that may not be possible, but definitely something to aim for.
  • Information privilege (and the whole area of ethics in publishing) is something we should raise awareness of. Are our university communities aware of how privileged their access to (for instance) packages of journals makes them? And what can the UK librarianship community do to help reduce the information privilege gap between people who belong to a wealthy institution and people (at home or abroad) who do not?
  • It is important to consider the role of the library in supporting the development of non-academic members of the university community? Digital skills, including the ability to find, evaluate and use information online, are important across the university and the library may be able to help.

Some concrete things I learned

  • CTRL-ALT-Arrows can rotate your screen display. Who knew?
  • General Studies will soon cease to exist as an ‘A’ Level. I don’t think this is a huge loss.
  • The US has a thing called Information Literacy Immersion Program, which sounds amazing. It offers several days of intensive training to help librarians develop the skills they need in teaching and pedagogy. I wonder whether something similar could work in the UK?

Things I am going to do post-conference

  • Make sure that anything I release has a Creative Commons licence (I’ve made a start by adding the CC-BY mark to this blog).
  • If writing using Word, remember to use Styles properly to make the document accessible to screen readers.
  • Read the CILIP strategy properly!
  • Check out what software I could use to create an online “treasure hunt” for distance learners.
  • Seek out books written by several of the presenters, including Nicola Whitton & Alex Moseley, Char Booth and Jane Secker & Chris Morrison.
  • Create a short summary version of the “learning and teaching offer” I am working on.
  • Keep working on online guides and videos, particularly with distance learners in mind.
  • Seek out the requirements for the 6th form EPQ which most of our under-18 visitors are working towards.
  • Write up my own work in publishable form. This is the big and scary one!

I found the whole conference very worthwhile and enjoyable. The library community is very open, happy to share ideas and work with each other, so I have come away with lots of things to try out, tips for tweaking my teaching sessions and people to stay in contact with. I have also come away further enthused about a job I already loved.

3 responses to “Reflecting on LILAC #lilac16

  1. rmgcat 26/03/2016 at 11:37 pm

    Hi David
    Good to meet you briefly on the last day. Just to let you know that the Information Literacy Group does offer an immersion course as you suggest above. Our pedagogy for librarians course is running in June this year


    • David Bedford 29/03/2016 at 8:13 am

      That sounds really interesting, thanks for pointing it out! I probably wouldn’t be able to go this year as I already have one week of June away from the library, but will see…

  2. Pingback: Building digital capability in the library | Jisc digital capability codesign challenge blog

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