Digital Literacy – inspiration from Cardiff

By digital literacy we mean those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society: for example, the skills to use digital tools to undertake academic research, writing and critical thinking; as part of personal development planning; and as a way of showcasing achievements.


A couple of weeks ago I headed to LSE for one of their NetworkED seminars entitled “Putting digital and information literacies into practice.” It was delivered by  Cathie Jackson, Janet Finlay and Joe Nichols from Cardiff University about their Digidol Project. It was one of those presentations where you come away inspired to do lots of things and also wondering where to begin.

Cardiff have a solid background in Information Literacy (IL), it has been part of the University’s Teaching and Learning Strategy since the early part of this century with a view to it being fully embedded. They explained that they have had a good top down buy in to IL and in turn this is helping with Digital Literacy. Cathie made a few excellent points about embedding IL (something close to my heart):

  • Has to be embedded this is the only  way it makes sense in academic context. It has to be entirely embedded and Not preserve of library but library provides support so academics can deliver IL.
  • Subject Librarians worked with academic staff on a course by course level.
  • Not too precise – what is comfortable for discipline.

She also mentioned the excellent Cardiff Information Literacy Resource bank which I myself have used and which academics can pull things from to use in their teaching. The items are deisgned so anybody anywhere could reuse them – worth pointing academics in our own institutions towards this resource.

Whilst IL is embedded in at least 66% of Cardiff’s courses DL is not massively widespread and embedded. Cardiff are bringing it all together, building on the strong IL foundation and blending  digital literacies, academic literacies, information literacies  together in the education strategy.
They have strong support from management. For example the Chief Operating Officer uses digital media incl blogs. This managerial involvement is seen as key to getting digital literacy on to the agenda. They are also involved in the central staff development programme.
One of the areas they have indentified as being an is issue is the communication gap between service providers and staff and students.
Taking Beetham and Sharpe’s  2009  model they have added another layer at the bottom for Awareness :
Cardiff found IL was stopping at skills and there was a need to look at how to apply it for example to produce a presentation. Different literacies mapped on to the pyramid from Beetham and Sharpe.
They came up with core tasks – building blocks for practices. I.e. find, manage, manipulate, producing, share.
They also identified practices – e.g. Giving presentation, Managing online presence, writing an essay
They also thought of the highest level and what do you want to see from a graduate  in other words what you want to see at end of course.
They looked at different models including the SCONUL digital literacy lens and now have set of 5 core tasks and examples at higher levels. This has been critiqued by their subject librarians. One key point is that DL (and all literacies) flow round triangle, students don’t reach top and finish.
There are some pertinent points:
  • Difficult to talk about practices and attributes – core tasks tend to be combined.
  • Practices need to be disciplinary based I.e. science versus arts
  • Some disciplines expect a read paper.
  • Tools are changing every week – using concept mapping including external tools and how they match the core tasks but also important to understand what people do I.e. tasks maps back to services this allows new technologies to be mapped back.
It is all about conversation – need to talk to staff and students about what they use and get other services involved. Conversations can happen on social media which led on to thinking about what opportunities might social media provide?
They asked students “What do you think you would benefit from?”
“how could they use social media promote themselves”
So the answers to questions might not be what you expect but provide great opportunities for developing new areas of training. This echoed the skills gap they had observed. Service providers (including the library) might have tools to solve the problems and tasks of the staff and students but often the two don’t match up.
This is where developing learning literacies helps to enable the staff and students.
Connecting with other areas of the institution such as careers to bridge these gaps works well.
Putting digital and information in practice
Strategically driven
  • Building on establishes iniatives
  • Detailed in university strategies and action plans
  • Key gatekeepers and decision makers
  • Learning literacies development framework
  • Promoting ac ownership
  • Task and practice focused
Scalable and sustainable
  • Linking services to practices – knowledge hub
  • Initiating and maintaining conversations
  • Building communities of interest
This is a link to the Prezi.

LILAC12 – a (not so) quick report #LILAC12

Having written a post about what it was like to present at LILAC I wanted to write up the conference itself (well the bits I attended).

Keynote 1 – Megan Oakleaf

Keynote 2 – Lord Puttnam of Queensgate, C.B.E.

Libguides tips and tricks: thinking outside the box – Eleanora Dubicki, Susan Gardner & Louise Gordon 

Playing Games and growing trees  Andrew Walsh Huddersfield @andywalsh999

Mobile technology and information literacy instruction: the McGill Library Experience. Maria Savova, Robin Canuel and Chad Crichton

Information literacy through inquiry: using problem-based learning in information literacy instruction Alan Carbery

Glasgow University
Glasgow – the conference wasn’t in this bit though!


I got a lot from attending. It was great to meet other librarians from across the world (there were lots of international delegates) and meet many faces from Twitter. I am really lucky to work somewhere that encourages us to attend conferences. It is such a positive experience and one I think is vital for us and our institution to evolve and stay ahead of the game. LILAC is  a big conference (by UK standards), but not so big that it feels overwhelming. Each day there was a keynote and then parallel sessions which meant there were a lot of things to choose from.

Glasgow was a nice place to visit and we did appreciate the free Caramel Log in our goody bags.

All the presentations that are available are here.

Keynote 1 – Megan Oakleaf

Play the ace: assessing, communicating and expanding the institutional impact of information literacy.
Megan’s impressive keynote looked at how it is important to demonstrate the value of the academic library to universities and how IL can be used to do this. She is the author of a US report: Value of Academic Libraries
Some points she made included:
  • Everyone loves library but don’t want to pay for it.
  • Focus on what collection enables people to do.
  • It is a good idea to define outcomes (learning outcomes) of what institution needs and wants. Could include employability, student retention.
  • What leads students to come to an institution? In US library second most impactful building. (learning spaces are first).
  • At Minnesota library instruction increases chance of re-enrolment year on year.
  • Acrl information literacy competency standards in higher education.
We did a great exercise where we used a grid called the Instruction Impact Map with Campus Needs, Goals and outcomes down one side and a list of things we do int he library along the top i.e. Tutorials, reference service etc. We then took one of the columns and rated how well it impacted on the campus need. This really made us think how we could connect the two things and really demonstrate how important what we do is.
Megan then suggested collecting evidence to back up our claims on the impact of our work making two important points:
  •  Authentic, integrated performance assessments.
  • Not surveys etc

Return to top

Libguides tips and tricks: thinking outside the box – Eleanora Dubicki, Susan Gardner & Louise Gordon (@louiselib)

The workshop delivered on Libguides was really useful. The major thing I took from it was the use of Libguides Polls.
Polls in Libguides
The poll before completion.
The results of the poll.
An example of which was used at the start of the session to see how many people in the session were using it and what we wanted out of the workshop.
The session was run round a guide:
We already use them at City but I hadn’t really thought of using them to base a whole session around but by using things like the polling and wallwasher they could be really interactive tools in our teaching as well as great support tools.

Return to top

Keynote 2 – Lord Puttnam of Queensgate, C.B.E.

I have to confess to having a bit of a fan girl moment when I saw Lord Puttnam as with my film-lover hat on I think he is an incredibly important figure in the British film industry. I now realise he is also an powerful voice in the world of Education two examples of his work are:
  • Founded future lab.
  • Sits on house communications committe.
The overarching theme of his speech was that what may seem radical to us now will not be in the future that People expect new form of relationship with world around them now. He gave several examples:
  •  Uni of Sunderland 24/7 opening radical in 1997. As was drinking coffee in library – keyboards so cheap irrelevant.
  • Www is just a click away.
  • Importance of libraries and schools.
  • Refreshing to see how quickly racists etc are brought to order on twitter.
  • Librarians help people steer towards right information.
  • Talked about unpredictability of what is to come I.e. Facebook buying instagram
  • Talked about the fact his parents would have thought 3 careers was bizarre but he can imagine his grandchildren having 6.
  • Huge levels of competition and complexity – unique challenges for us as educators.
The point that most people were buzzing about afterwards was:
Many currently in education will work with voice activated technology in working lives.
This means we will need a pedagogy to work with voice activated tech … Importance of voice and thinking. Keyboard skills will still be useful but not as important. Research and development is not put into keyboards. Money is in voice recognition both spending on research and in profit.
Apple, google and amazon all using this technology so children born today will think it is the norm. Essentially we will be working differently. Oracy (?) will be important. Teachers will have to be better at listening and students better at talking
and so strong spoken language skills will need to be developed. He said this isn’t that new, Aristotle’s The Art of Rhetoric is still a best seller but we will need to structure thought differently it requires students talk more but teachers less. 1975 Bullock report suggested teachers were so long winded pupils had 20 secs each to talk.
Currently there is disparity between how people behave with tech at home and how it is used in classroom. For example a surgeon from 1912 couldn’t work today. A teacher could because we aren’t using enough technology in classroom.
Need to understand students world, how they relate to it and we need to be aware of problems surrounding adopting technology i.e. digitising old practices isn’t the way forward. We need to consider what advances an entire digital pedagogy could be like. It is about digital not digitising.
He discussed the need for an undisputed education of women. World class education system underpins world class health and social system. Will not work other way round.
He ended with a quote from Stuart Brand “We are gods so we better start getting good at it”
There was then a great Q&A session:

Q: French children don’t learn to read and write until later. They develop oral and reasoning skills first.   – what about it?
A: Need to look at other countries. If you find yourself saying “this is the way we do it” stop doing it that way.
Q: Exam system doesn’t reflect digital technology.  IB allows it more than A levels with large piece of work.
A: most useful thing medical world could do is clone librarians as they have 19th century assessment process. It is out of step with technology and teaching. Lord Puttnam thinks International Baccalaureate is the way forward.
He then talked about the role of librarians:
  • Not what we do but branding is a problem.
  • Breadth width and importance of what we do needs to be promoted by us and others.
  • We aren’t gatekeepers.
  • Make sure title librarian isn’t trapped.
  • British library has done it brilliantly. It is vital and important.
Q: Cost question of technology.
A: Things you can’t afford not to have. If you are seriously concerned about child’s future you will forgo things to get them. Cost of slates in 19th century was crippling for a family but they did it. Education can’t be allowed to become unaffordable. TES – cheaper for them to buy £100 tablet and send it to all subscribers than the print copy as print costs £100 a year. Got to make tech vital so saying not do it because of cost is not relevant. IPad is as important as slate David Lloyd George learnt to write his name on.
Q: Issue around accent etc for google voice (and all voice technology)
A: technology will improve and be more forgiving. Recalling dictation from work in advertising. He learnt how to dictate a letter. You have to think in a particular way to dictate a letter.
Matrix of literacies
Being articulate is a life skill.
Q: Distance …
A: Cisco telepresence system on west coast of Ireland. He does lectures from home. 5 universities. Notion of distance is not relevant any more.

Return to top

Playing Games and growing trees  Andrew Walsh Huddersfield @andywalsh999

Lemontree Cake
Lemontree gave away cake on a stick

This session really appealed to me as I am interested in the gamification of learning. Huddersfield have done a lot of work on the connection between library use and student achievement. One of their findings was that the physical library didn’t make a difference. This meant they wanted more serious use from students who came in for social reasons by putting a game over top of library usage.

You can view the game here
There is also more information here.
 The game connects with Facebook and a lot of the social interaction is in Facebook. Once registered you don’t have to go on to lemon tree you can see what you are doing in Facebook.
As always data protection is an issue so they make sure people are happy to share data I.e. what books you borrow and under settings you can turn off what information is shared.
One of the key benefits appeared to be that it can be used to see what other people from courses found useful.
As is often the case as interesting as the game looks the thing that stuck with me (as I doubt we would be going down the game line) was the promotion suggestions:
  • Little cards including things like “playing the library”
  • No big worthy things
  • Low key and fun
  • One poster
  • Messages that appear on plasma screens
  • Has to be fun and inviting
  • Cards are being scattered
  • Put it in high demand books
  • Also put codes to reward in low use books.

Details of the presentation are here:


Mobile technology and information literacy instruction: the McGill Library Experience. Maria Savova, Robin Canuel and Chad Crichton

McGill library from the palm of your hand – delivered to librarians as wells as students and faculty
There were several good points made to be aware of when looking at the use and implementation of mobile technologies.
  • Have to establish what is possible on different ereaders etc (wifi or 3G or not)
  • Ezproxy helps use on mobile devices
  • Challenges – it isn’t clear from the catalogue if book can be downloaded
  • Also availability – can’t tell if someone has downloaded it already (some limits to number of downloads)
  • Ebsco – need to download PDF for use offline.
  • Problem PDF is a picture not text. Doesn’t work well on ereaders.
  • Reflowable text – ePub, amazon azw kindle format, mobipocket reader format – universal eBook Reader for PDAs
  • Science direct allows you to convert into ePub /Mobipocket
  • Calibre allows you to change formats (as long as not protected by digital rights)
  • Different devices have different structures i.e. file structure in Android is different to Apple.
New ways of searching for information
  • Voice search –
    Most mobile devices have voice connectivity
    Shazam / soundhound technology – biologists use it by capturing birdsong and identifying birds
  • Visual search – Google goggles – can not only identify things in images but also if you take pic of an image it will find other references to the image (for example a picture of a painting)
  • Context specific – Location aware search results – world cat mobile use it. Computer finder.
  • Barcodes/QR codes -QR codes – super easy to implement.
  • Augmented reality – point camera at reality around you, brings information in around you. Layar app – information about our campus, direct where,how to get to library.

Return to top

Information literacy through inquiry: using problem-based learning in information literacy instruction Alan Carbery

This presentation was probably the unexpected highlight of the conference. Unfortunately I was so gripped I forgot to make notes. This is the presentation:
I have used PBL a lot in my previous work  but not so much recently. Alan’s presentation inspired me to think about how I could use it in the future again.

Librarian day in the life -Thursday #libday8

Today has been a good day. I was late night librarian so got in at 11. Carolyn was visiting the main site so I showed her the new Financial Databases Suite – it looks bit empty now but when it is finished it will look great.

I spoke to the academic I had done the referencing session on Tuesday for and she is really keen to help me develop some online resources, maybe as part of Technology Enabled Academic Practice. Enthusiastic academic staff make such a difference to the work we do. I also had a booking from the academic we saw yesterday for a session in a fortnight.

I got my mark back for the essay I did over Christmas – my first on this MA (I am doing the MA in Academic Practice at City) I was pleased with the mark. I always figure the first essay of a new course is a bit of an exercise in working out where you fit and what they want. I have room for improvement but would be pleased if I got this mark all the way through.

After lunch I headed to Cass on the scariest bus ever – it should take 15 minutes but took less than ten including me walking up the road from the bus to Cass. Boy racer bus driver methinks.

We then had a meeting about the Cass Library website. At the moment it sits on the Cass website, separate from the main City library one and we need to think about where it should be. We all can see both sides of the argument for having it on either site but it needs thinking about.

After a short break I met with my manager who completed my probation. Despite being there for 14 months because I had the absence because of my surgery it ran from my return to work. Anyway I am now permanently employed and very pleased too as I rather like my job.

The evening session then brought a blast from the past as some very confused students from my old place of work came into the library. Except they weren’t supposed to use it. Anyway I ended up writing an essay to various people trying to explain where I think the confusion came from. I fear I may have added to the confusion …

Other than that the library was very busy. One student wanted to know if he had to bring his book back as he needed it. When I looked it up it had 7 holds on it. I explained that he was depriving students of it and he said “yes but I haven’t finished with it. I’ll just keep it until the essay is due in. I can afford the fines.” The very next student then started quoting the article that was in the press recently about UK libraries making lots of money from fines but how he thought they were a good idea. Overdue books, fines and other punishments are an endless area of thought for library staff. In the end all we want is the most people to be able to access our resources!

My first Business Librarians Association Conference


I had heard many tales about the Business Librarian Association (BLA) conference in the past. All in all the general consensus was it’s a great conference and having attended my first this week I have to agree. I have come away with lots of ideas and inspiration plus put names to faces from Twitter. I think in today’s shrinking training budgets conferences are essential. They provide a unique opportunity to share ideas and be inspired and are a bit like a music festival – great way to see lots of new ideas at relatively low cost per session.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Making an Impact – demonstrating value.” Which is of course a big issue in libraries of all shapes and sizes. The first keynote was “A is for Advocacy” by Antony Brewerton, Head of Academic Services, University of Warwick. It was a great start to the conference as it was engaging, relevant and informative. I liked the way he took ideas from marketing and adapted them for libraries. I wouldn’t say it was revolutionary but he did make an excellent point in that a problem is that librarians think what they do is common sense but students don’t see it as being so obvious. A point worth being reminded of. Another point worth remembering is the key to our success is service. As he said “People don’t go to the pub for the ale but for the service.”

His talk reminded me what can be done with some simple ideas including something we did well at Brighton, templates so all documents looked the same. The helpsheets I’ve been doing for our Cass students have taken these ideas but maybe we need them across the board at City? It’s that buzzowrd Branding which came out of this keynote.

The first afternoon continued with two talks from a director and assistant director of the local universities. This was followed by an excellent Question Time session where members had been invited to submit questions beforehand and the panel answered them. One of the questions was on social media and a couple of good points which echoed my own thoughts came out of this:

  • Use it in the way students use it.
  • Do need to be where students are.

Plus an excellent idea – Ask students to write on blogs.

I won’t say much about the informal dinner, suffice that free wine is great and a quiz on Sheffield is a bit hard when it’s your first visit.

The next day had a mix of presentation styles which re-affirmed my believe that practicing librarians make better presenters than some of our academic colleagues. The surprise was that until Meg Westbury’s excellent presentation on Friday nobody used Prezi.

There was a presentation on strategy to kick the second day off at 9am, the main point I got from it was that strategies should be simple for people to understand them but I do have some references to look up.

It was then up to Huddersfield to make data interesting. They succeeded. The team talked about their library impact project. Amongst the things they mentioned were that they had been using library usage data to see if their was a correlation between library use and degree class. We had break out sessions to discuss some of the points raised. One of issues our groups discussed was the effect on library services if positive correlation is proved. Will it give us more clout? Will it effect subject librarians? Is their a positive correlation between information literacy and degree class? Some of the information is available in their repository and there’s a great blog about the project.

Chinese students and their experience of life in UK higher education was the subject of Dr. Bradley Barnes’ post-lunch talk. This really interested me as I’m currently working on pages for international students and have a bit of experience with them from INTO. He talked about using an equation to measure the students experience.

Perception (p) – expectation (e) = quality (q) if q is negative then what is perceived falls short of expectations.

What Dr. Barnes explained was that with Chinese students their cultural differences will effect their experience and the quality of that experience. For example they are surprised that our shops and services close at 5:30 and perceive this as lazy. It was interesting to have my own experiences confirmed.

The afternoon continued with a talk from the Norwegian Business School. It was really good to hear how things are done in Norway and the school looks great! They made a couple of good comments, one was that we should use QR codes partly because it looks technologically advanced and therefore impresses. The other was one echoed elsewhere – use students for induction videos.

Friday morning saw the AGM and then member sharing sessions which were really interesting and reconfirmed librarians as the best presenters. They were all really good and re-confirmed the belief that librarians excel at presenting. I was particularly interested in Meg’s explanation of how they built the Judge Business School Library Blog as one of my tasks for the next year is to work with Carolyn on our web presence and we had discussed looking at to do it. Meg’s prezi was also excellent and really showed how good it is as a presenting tool.

So, all in all it was an excellent conference. The hotel was great, Sheffield lovely and I really do have some great ideas to develop. If you work supporting business students then it is well worth the time and cost to attend.

Librarian Day in the life – day 1

Today has been a slightly frustrating day in that I’d planned to create my Subject librarian webpages (like the great ones my colleagues did before I got here) which I have been preparing content for since before Christmas. First I couldn’t do it because I needed CMS (Content Management System) training, then I needed to be approved to use the CMS  and so on … Today I logged on only to get lots of error messages. In the end ten minutes before I left I had access. I’m going to have to find time tomorrow and Wednesday to get something done before I finish for the op on Thursday.

Apart from web frustration I did have a really good session on the Reception Desk. It’s lovely being busy, answering students queries – even the things that seem little to us can be a huge relief to a student. The reception/issue/combined services / circulation /help desk (or whatever they are called in the library you work in) is so important to student’s experience of the library.

I’m still pretty new at City and this was only my second desk session. I did find myself asking my colleagues a fair few questions which in previous jobs I would have just known. Every library does things differently and I do have to remind myself I worked at my first University for 9 years and so knew the system inside out. In my next role I set the system up so obviously knew what was going on. Almost every student has a different query. One of the skills librarians develop is being able to work out what a student really wants from what they say (even if what they say bears little relation to what they say) but when you are new somewhere and finding your way it can be more difficult to do this. I really enjoyed the desk and look forward to the time I just know the answer!

The other main working event today was using and learning about Google Analytics. I love statistics, analysing them, questioning them, think of the things they aren’t showing us. I’m going to be using it on the University’s library pages which will be fun!

I think it’s safe to say that my day was not a stereotypical librarian’s day – although I did issue some books and take some fines so maybe not so different!

Library Day in the Life – 6 Introduction.

My name is Helen Westwood and I am the subject librarian for Cass Business School. I only started this job in December but am really enjoying it! My previous role was establishing the LRC at INTO London.

This week (or at least the first 3 days of it) I am going to take part in the Library Day in the Life project for the first time (I’m hoping it will kick start me blogging here!). The idea came from Librarian by day and gives librarians a chance to document what they do. There is a twitter hastag if you want to follow on twitter #libday6 and Flickr, you tube and other blogs will be tagged with something like: librarydayinthelife

The wiki with a list of who’s taking part and links to their blogs etc is a good place to see the variety of librarians.

I’ll only be doing it until Wednesday as on Thursday I am having jaw surgery and won’t be doing much librarian-ing.

Should you become a Librarian?

Thanks to Sarah for re-tweeting this … so true and amusing!

Should you become librarian?

I must go and dust my books and ponder the names of my many cats …

Room to Read

A few weeks ago my cousin (and fellow librarian) Julie sent me a message about Room to Read. Which is a charity that believes change begins with educated children. They promote literacy and education for children in the developing world.

Their website is

Room to Read Logo

Julie explained how the charity started:

“The founder of the organisation, John Wood, began the work in Nepal, as a response to a visit he made to a Nepalese village school, where the only two books available for the children were a ‘Lonely Planet’ guidebook and a Danielle Steel novel, left behind by trekkers like himself.  His book “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” is truly inspiring.  The project now extends to many countries besides Nepal.  The book makes you realise that everyone has the potential to make a difference, no matter how great or small.”

I was mulling over whether this is something I could bring to Sussex as a charity for us to support through the libraries when I saw that the Financial Times is supporting Room to Read for their seasonal appeal.

Details of the appeal are available here:

You can also follow Room to Read on Twitter or Facebook.

I feel even more motivated to look at what I can do locally.

Quotes …

My very good friend Liz and I collect quotes, poems and the like.  Some to boost us when we are blue, some to make us laugh and some to inspire us.

I’m going to paste the odd one or two here when they strike me as being especially good!

Here are a couple to start with:

“A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.”

Franz Kafka

“All that mankind has done, thought, gained, or been; it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books.”

Thomas Carlyle

“When you read a classic you do not see in the book more than you did before. You see more in you than there was before.”

Clifton Fadiman

“I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book.”

Groucho Marx

%d bloggers like this: