30 Mar LILAC Conference – Day 1
What a brilliant start to the conference! After a full breakfast at the hotel, we wandered over to The Strand for conference registration where we were met by hoards of librarians everywhere! Thankfully it was all very well organised and we were able to get registered before heading to the pre-conference sessions. I had chosen a session on RefWorks (reference management tool), where I learnt more about the Telstar project integrating RefWorks functionality into Moodle (contact Owen Stephens, who managed the project, if you are interested to know more about this). I also attended the session on assessment which Amanda Poulton (@rangtang) took (originally planned to be taken by Jo Webb (@webbery) and Chris Powis), and it was particularly useful to discuss assessment ideas in small groups, and hear about some of the innovative assessment ideas from DMU. The final pre-conference session I attended was one I’d been looking forward to and it certainly didn’t disappoint – I can see why the speakers won an award for best paper at a previous conference! Sarah Faye Cohen (@thesheck), Janet Cottrell and Michelle G. Miller spoke about the information literacy support at Champlain College, and measuring the impact. It was really interesting to hear a group presentation from such different perspectives – an information literacy librarian, a library director, and a provost. The main themes I took from the presentation was the need to consider all data when measuring impact and guiding future developments – “data is not always easy to understand, but it doesn’t mean it’s not important”; to find allies amongst faculty/academic staff, celebrate small successes and express gratitude; and to learn to tolerate uncertainty and accept a culture where it is OK for things to not work – I loved the quote “failing often is OK if you can succeed sooner”. You can view the presentation (strongly recommended) on Slideshare.
Lunch followed, and there was a first-timers section to network with others who hadn’t been to LILAC before. The committee were also around at this point to introduce themselves and answer any questions. The conference was then officially opened by Sean Haughey, Minister for State for Lifelong Learning, followed by the first keynote of the conference from Tony Durcan, Head of Culture, Libraries and Lifelong Learning for Newcastle City Council. Tony’s keynote was very interesting – he discussed some of the new developments at Newcastle’s flagship library in the city centre, including some “soft triangular” (plectrum shaped according to Sarah!) enquiry desks to reduce some of the barriers people face at traditional altar-like enquiry desks. It was interesting to hear that there has initially been a number of concerns and fears from staff about the changes to enquiries, but that now staff preferred the new style of roving support and more informal enquiry desks. Tony also discussed the implications of recent developments such as the Digital Britain report and the DCMS public library review, and how important it is for public libraries to enable access to computing facilities, internet access, and training to support these. He opened with a fantastic quote from The Aspen Institute (2009);
Information is as vital to the healthy functioning of communities as clean air, safe streets, good schools, and public health
After a brief refreshment break, it was then time for the next set of parallel sessions. I chose to attend the first session from Jacqui Weetman DaCosta and Eleonora Dubicki from New Jersey, who discussed their information literacy progression standards for New Jersey colleges and universities which were developed in collaboration with librarians across the state to assist in the transition between two year colleges and four year colleges and ensure a standard approach to information literacy dependent on study level. I particularly liked the point raised about working in collaboration with academic staff rather than prescribing what they should do to incorporate information literacy. You can see more information (including the presentation) on the New Jersey Libraries wiki. I attended a movie screening next – from University of Cardiff. They talked about their information literacy movies project, shared their experiences and what they have learnt from the process, and then we watched the horror themed video on referencing. I was interested to note that feedback from students showed a mix of opinion (with the same reasons used as both positives and negatives!), but generally the videos were engaging and helped to break up face to face sessions to make them more interesting. You can see the videos from the Information Literacy Resource Bank. The last talk I attended evaluated Pop-i and Lollipop, the online training programmes for library staff. Debbie Boden and Sarah Arkle discussed feedback from their iterations of the programme at University of Worcester and University of Bedfordshire. There was mixed feedback from people doing the course, but the main point I took from the session was the importance of the mentors in motivating participants and encouraging online discussion.
I had a quick look at the posters in the lecture hall before heading back to my hotel for a quick change, then it was time for the evening’s activities. We went to the Limerick Institute of Technology School of Art and Design for a buffet dinner, some drinks, irish dancing and celtic singing. Fantastic first day, can’t wait for the next!