Monday, 16 April 2012

The Colour LILAC: Wednesday parallel sessions

The hardest thing about attending LILAC is having to choose between all the sessions that are offered. Often you want to go to two or three that are all taking place at the same time. Just look at this year's programme and you'll see what I mean!  Luckily, my colleague was also attending so we could cover two at a time.

Here's a summary of the ones I attended on the Wednesday.
E-resources and Information Literacy: A Libraries Thriving Workshop
This was led by Jackie LaPlaca Ricords from Credo. A few useful points and links:
Acting on PhD student feedback to create new learning resources
The PowerPoint for this session by Angela Newton and Dan Pullinger from the University of Leeds is available below. We also did an activity (included in PowerPoint) where we got into groups and discussed how we would respond to a set of related student queries. The group I was in had questions about bibliometrics. We were tasked with devising a learning activity to help them. One of the partipants in my group did jigsaw puzzles with her students so we used this as we all thought it was such an original idea!

Remodeling information literacy core competencies in the context of a general education curriculum
Information about this talk by Emily Frigo can be found at
There is a useful list of assessible objectives - after discussion with academics, the word "synthesise" will be removed from number 4. The end result of this is curricular integration. Next steps include a case study, finalising the rubric and developing the website.

This has similarities with some of the outcomes of the ANCIL project, which I have blogged about before

Think before you click: steps on the road to independent learning
This talk by Anthony Beal was about how he encouraged students to think for themselves when searching so that they were better able to make the transition to university. He used the example of the website What assumptions might be made based on the domain? He also asked them to type Martin Luther King into Google and look at the description for this site. They then had to evaluate the site's content, which it turns out is not what you might expect. Rather than just showing students how to use Google effectively, this exercise gets students to realise the importance of not making assumptions or believing the descriptions. A demonstration of this would not have had the same impact.

Web Scale Discovery and Information Literacy: Competing Visions or Mutual Support?
This was a presentation of two halves, the first by Sheila Corrall and the second by John Dove (Credo).   

OCLC research shows that people find using search engines easier than using the library and just as trustworthy. Can next generation discovery services such as Primo Central help with this? These simplify searching by taking away the need to search individual databases. The emphasis of information literacy instruction therefore is more focused on evaluation and an understanding of different resource types. Higher end skills.

Where do students get stuck? According to research by the University of Washington, 84% of students found getting started to be the most difficult step of the research process. They often lack the requred vocabulary and context to do this.

Questions to consider:
  • Are web scale discovery tools a good starting point for subject searches or for exploring new topics?
  • Will such tools help students become competent information users in the workplace and later life?
  • Do we need to change IL education to fit the new discovery environment?
  • Can we augment our discovery services to support and deliver our IL mission? 
Reflecting the discussion in this talk, my own experience with Primo Central has been mixed. It works well for first year or foundation students, as it is relatively easy to get the hang of and produces adequate results for this level of study. However, it is a bit "quick and dirty", in that students are not necessarily getting the most helpful results, which is why librarians should intervene to help improve their searching and evaluation. We can then follow these skills up later on in their course when we show them individual databases.

ACTION: to get topic pages from Credo to appear as first result when users do a non-specific search in Primo Central, in a similar way to Wikipedia appearing as first result when you do a general search in Google. Avoid complicated articles appearing first when they don't have a grounding in the topic.

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