August 16, 2016 by Lizzie Sparrow
A chance conversation earlier in the year between the chairs to two of CILIP’s special interest groups led to the first joint event hosted between the Information Literacy Group and the Multimedia, Information and Technology group, which was held at the University of Liverpool in London on Friday August 5th. The two groups were focusing on digital literacy as part of their overall CPD themes this year so they decided that rather than put on separate events they would pool their resources and contacts and hold a joint event on ‘Digital Literacy in Libraries’. The event was a huge success and attracted speakers and delegates from a range of library and information services and across several different library sectors.
Extending digital literacy
The first presentation set the bar very high indeed. Luke Burton, Digital Transformation Manager at Newcastle Libraries talked about the different initiatives and innovations that the public library users on Tyneside are currently enjoying as the library service strives to address the digital inclusion agenda and to enable access to a whole host of digital resources, skills and opportunities. It was fascinating hearing about events such as the coding clubs, Google garage, hack events and Fix It Cafe, as well as the future plans for facilitated workshops around Pokemon GO and Minecraft and the Library Freedom Project.
Digital literacy in the NHS
The second presentation was from Kieran Lamb, from Stockport NHS Trust who presented on behalf of the NHS and spoke about what digital literacy means to health librarians. An interesting aspect of the digital literCY agenda in the healthcare sector is how library and information professionals need to be able to address the digital literacy needs of clinicians as well as a patients, both of whom require different support. Digital literacy for clinicians and practitioners requires skills and abilities to effectively search and critically appraise digital information with regard to their evidence based practice, whilst patients need awareness and a support in accessing and using digital and online health services (I.e. Online appointment booking and repeat prescriptions). Kieran concluded with a discussion about how the variety and diversity of digital literacy requirements within the NHS environment, ultimately meanS that it is a question of how librarians address and support meta-literacy.
The changing learning landscape
The next presenter was from an academic institution, but was not necessarily representing libraries. Dr David Walker, Head of Technology Enhanced Learning at the University of Sussex challenged the audience with a presentation entitled ‘Technology, Digital Capabilities and the Language of Change’. David’s discussion around the changing learning landscape and the barriers that institutions pose to digital innovation and change was extremely thought provoking.
David’s focus on the language and parlance that we use when talking about ‘digital’ was interesting, particularly when he pointed out that we often talk about ‘digital’ being ‘transformational’, when in actual fact we don’t want to be constantly transforming ourselves through digital resources and services (i.e. into a completely new and irreversible state) but that what we really mean and want is developmental change to help us improve and get to the next level.
Building the digital capability of libraries
The final session of the morning was from Adam Micklethwaite, Director of Business and Innovation at the Tinder Foundation, with a paper entitled ‘Building the Digital Capability of Libraries‘ in which he talked about the Tinder Foundation’s mission to tackle digital exclusion throughout the UK and the actions and initiatives that they had been involved in as part of this. Adam spoke about the strategic importance of libraries and how they are excellent vehicles for digital inclusion. He explained the concept of ‘LearnMyWay’ and how libraries were providing some of the infrastructure and support for the UK Online Centres.
Moira Wright of University College London (UCL) livened everybody up in the post lunchtime slot with a session entitled ‘Digital Nirvana’. Moira spoke about digital education at UCL and using novel pedagogies such as ‘story telling’ and ‘making and creating’ within this practice. As part of the session Moira got all the delegates to participate in a ‘digital nirvana making activity’ where all the participants spent some time thinking about and constructing a box in which they were invited to put all their digital frustrations alongside their digital dreams. A highly entertaining and thoughtful activity!
Public libraries supporting digital literacy
Next to present was Jackie Widdowson, our second public library speaker of the day. Jacqui is chair of CILIP’s Public and Mobile Libraries Group as well as being the library manager at Darwen Library. Jacqui’s presentation was entitled ‘The role public libraries play in supporting digital literacy’ and covered: public library spaces and access to wifi and technology; digital resources and interfaces; adapting and differentiation when providing services for different demographics; and addressing digital literacy skills in library staff through the Code Green Project. Jacqui also discussed the national strategy and the work which has come from the Society of Chief Librarians in developing this. The final part of Jacqui’s presentation covered some of the digital resources and initiatives that are going on in various library authorities, and as with Luke’s presentation from the morning sessions, it was fascinating to see the breadth and depth of digital support and facilitation enabled through our public libraries.
Student ambassadors for digital literacy
The final talk came from Jane Secker and Sonia Gomes from London School of Economic (LSE) in which they reported back on an initiative that they had rolled out at LSE called ‘Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy’ (SADL) in which students are supported in acquiring digital skills and literacies in order that they can become ambassadors and can then support fellow students in acquiring and developing similar skills. The programme had been very successful and the evaluation of it had revealed the extent of the impact of the programme had on the students and staff involved. The evaluation also resulted in further enhancements and developments of the programme as well as presenting the challenge of how to scale up SADL for the future.
Sharing experience and best practice
All in all the ILG/MmIT ‘Digital Literacies’ event was a huge success with delegates enjoying the range and variation of the speakers and presenters, but also seeing how ‘digital literacy’ is something that is high on the agenda of all library sectors. Events such as this allow for us to share our experiences and best practices and effectively give us all a wider variety of tools and techniques to take back to our respective libraries.
All the presentations from the event can be found on the ILG Slideshare account: