Friday, 25 November 2011

#LIKE31 - Information Literacy

On Thursday I went to another London Information and Knowledge Exchange event, this time a panel discussion on Information Literacy. The discussion was chaired by Dr Susie Andretta from London Metropolitan University, and on the panel were Adjoa Boateng, Rachel Adams and Caroline De Brun. Each of the panellists works in a different sector (Higher Education, legal and health respectively) and it was interesting to see the common problems faced by people working in different sectors. Sarah Wolfenden has also written about this event on her blog, The Wolfenden Report.

First up was Adjoa Boaten. She began by passing around a copy of the reference librarian's bible, Know it All, Find it Fast, first published nearly a decade ago. Today, the information environment is even more complex and harder to navigate for both students and librarians. As well as learning how to get information, students also need to learn to navigate all of the new platforms we have. Barriers to information literacy include:
  • jargon
  • specialist databases
  • fast-changing technology
  • lack of interoperability
We need to help students develop the skills to learn, and to put into practice what they have learnt. The resources librarians choose now will impact on how information literate students will be in the future.

Next was Rachel Adams talking about her experiences working in law firms. It can be difficult to sell information literacy to a workforce. How can we argue the case for information literacy training?
  • It saves time
  • It saves money
  • It saves stress - minimising information overload!
She found that information literacy training was most effective when it was "just in time" rather than "just in case". Often, information literacy training is focused on trainees and new recruits, at a time when they are being bombarded with information. Training given at the point of need sticks better, and timing refresher sessions close to a looming deadline gets people through the door.

Last but not least was Caroline De Brun, who works at the Royal Free Hospital. The term "information literacy" is not commonly used in the UK health sector, "evidence based medicine" is a more common phrase. This means that decisions should be based on best research and clinical expertise, which requires information literacy skills to fulfil.

Training and outreach are important in the health sector. Clinical librarians support clinical teams in hospitals and on wards, and GP librarians support practitioners in local surgeries. Appointment turnaround is very fast in GP offices, so the librarian's job is to offer training in short bursts, raising awareness and getting a foot in the door. The aim and the main measure of success is of course an improved patient experience.

This event was a great way to pick up tips on information literacy training from other sectors, as well as having a fab meal with lots of interesting people to talk to! Apologies that this was quite a rushed post, I've been wanting to blog since Thursday but Collection Management Policies (*sigh*) got in the way!

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