LILAC 2018 Conference Report
Having recently started my first professional librarian post, with responsibility for teaching information literacy to students, LILAC 2018 came at a perfect time. I was looking forward to hearing about the work and research other people had been doing on IL, and of course any bright ideas I could use myself. The conference itself was a jam-packed three days, full of the Terracotta Warriors exhibition, a fantastic conference dinner in the cathedral crypt, three inspiring keynotes, far too many interesting sessions to choose from, and ending with the unveiling of CILIP’s new definition of information literacy.
As I attended a large number of sessions over the three days, I’ll focus on some of the key themes from across the conference, and some of the sessions that particularly stood out to me.
The first session I attended typified one of the huge benefits to attending LILAC – practical things to take back to my job and use myself, and share with colleagues. Sam Aston and Anna Theis from the University of Manchester ran a masterclass allowing delegates to participate in one of the workshops which was run as part of the library’s My Learning Essentials programme. Sam facilitated the workshop, whilst Anna spoke about the reasoning and ideas behind the tasks and activities. This worked really well as it put you in the position of the learner and enabled you to see first-hand how effective the techniques were.
Although the workshop itself focused on critical thinking, a lot of the techniques could be adapted to fit sessions on various aspects of IL and support active learning. For example, letting the students set the session agenda, getting feedback from students by voting, and structuring the session to allow a gradual release of responsibility onto the students. I took lots of other practical ideas away from LILAC, including from Leanne Young’s session on engaging with distance learners, Susan McGlamery’s session on embedding IL into a module (loved the idea of literature bingo!) and Chris Millson and Dave Hirst’s session on blogging and IL through the use of Medium - a platform we’ve just started using at Manchester Met for our library blog.
Alongside exploring ways that IL could be taught to students, another reason I wanted to attend LILAC was to gain an insight into how to engage different groups, such as researchers and academic staff with IL. Jane Secker and Chris Morrison’s fun and interactive session introducing their game The Publishing Trap provided an insightful and unique way to engage with researchers. Building on the success of their previous Copyright Card game, The Publishing Trap is a board game designed to teach players about issues related to scholarly communications and copyright. I thought this was a really interesting way to bring something potentially quite dull to life. It also showed how IL manifests itself in different contexts, in this case through understanding the impact of licensing and copyright within the scholarly communications process.
Two other sessions, delivered by Sarah Pittaway from the University of Worcester and Laurence Morris & Kirsty Bower from Leeds Beckett University, also stood out to me for the strong ways they were integrating the importance of IL within their institutions. Sarah talked about the research she has conducted at Worcester to develop a new IL teaching offer and a self-audit tool for course teams to identify their expectations of students alongside any gaps in IL provision. Laurence & Kirsty’s talk was a whistle-stop tour through some of the initiatives they have embarked on at Leeds Beckett to embed IL, including delivering sessions within a prison, setting up an Open Access student journal and linking up with local NHS organisations.
Finally, the keynotes tied together the strands of the conference perfectly: from Barbara Band advocating how essential it is to teach information skills, to Ola Pierot reminding us of the need to integrate theory to enhance our practice and ending with Dave White highlighting the importance of criticality and questioning in understanding our relationships with information and technology throughout our lives.
Attending LILAC 2018 was a thought-provoking and insightful experience, giving me practical tips to take back to work as well inspiring me to think more broadly about the concept of information literacy within society. Thanks again to CILIP NW for awarding me the bursary and to the LILAC Conference committee and volunteers for organising such a fantastic conference.