LILAC 2011, 18th-20th April


On a beautiful sunny morning I boarded a train to London to attend the seventh (and my second) Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference which was held at the British Library Conference Centre (day 1 and 2) and LSE (day 3).  LILAC is a very busy conference with around 250 delegates, 3 keynote speakers and 4 parallel sessions running simultaniously throughout the day all focusing on information literacy.  This blog post will highlight some of the key themes and presentations over the 3 days.

After arriving in time for lunch and an opportunity to network with delegates the conference was officially opened by Caroline Brazier Director of Scholarship and Collections at the British Library.  The first keynote speaker was Professor David Nicholas from UCL who talked about how the virtual revolution is transforming our lives and how librarians can intervene to moderate the worst excesses of information seeking and usage in cyberspace.  His presentation opened with a picture of a child on a laptop – this is the future and the future is now!

The four D’s:

  • Digital Transition – creates access to everything, need search and evaluation skills
  • Disintermediation – results in fast and massive choice.  Google creates do it yourself culture. We are all librarians!
  • Devices – mobile reading devices and ebooks
  • Decoupling – What happens when you know less and less about more and more people? Professional meltdown

Remote access:

  • behaviours happen remotely and anonymously
  • 15% of use occurs outside traditional working  hours.  Can argue that libraries increase productivity


  • Over half of visitors typically view 1-3 pages from the thousands availale. “Bounce” because of search engines, choice, an acceptance of failure, poor retreival skills, direct result of disintermediation. Young people bounce the most.
  • Viewing has replaced reading.  Prefer to power browse.  15 mins is a long time online.  Articles aren’t viewed for more than 5 minutes or so.

Simple and fast

  • Love Google, avoid carefully crafted discovery systems
  • Only librarians use advanced search
  • Like immersive environments like Amazon and Facebook with personalised serivces

Issues for Librarians:

  • Users rely on first up on Google answers
  • Inability to evaluate information
  • Bouncing and skittering – chips away at capacity to concentrate and contemplate which leads to reading problems
  • Brain provides a reward for finding something but not for reading!


  • Librarians need to understand information behaviour in the digital space
  • We’re using the wrong language – not information literacy but information investment
  • Need to work with publishers

Andrew Walsh Martini information literacy: how does “anytime, anyplace, anywhere”-access to information change what information literacy means? Andrew’s presentation linked in with the theme of bouncing and skittering and focused on providing access to information via mobile devises.  He highlighed the need to develop simple, easy to use interfaces which quickly take the user to the type of information they are looking for.

Kaye Towlson The information source evaluation matrix, a creative approach to making information evaluation easy and relevant.  Kaye said that existing online tutorials are largely ignored as users need to invest too much time (that bouncing and skittering again!).  At De Montford University they have developed an Information Source Evaluation Matrix which enables the methodical evaluation of different kinds of material.  It’s straightforward to use and raises student awareness of the necessary skills required for information evaluation.

Matthew Borg and Carloline Fixter Food for thought? Information literacy, library a la carte and Sheffield Hallam University.  Matthew and Caroline reported on a project to develop interactive online information literacy tutorials using the Library a la Carte

Day two opened with the second Keynote presentation by Nikki Heath School Librarians Do Make a difference! Reading for pleasure and information literacy at Werneth School.  Nikki outlined what she does including a number of reading initiatives at her school.  I particularly liked the summer challenge each year where £500 was given away in prizes!

Sarah Thornes Above and beyond: an online tutorial to develop academic and research skills described the development of an online tutorial at the University of Leeds which was to address the support provided to distance learners and part-time students.  Sarah highlighted visual communication as being more important in e-learning than face to face.  When asked how much time it took to create the tutorial Sarah said it took 100 hours to create 1 hour of content! This seem like an awful lot of work and myself and other delegates where interested to find out about usage, but dissapointingly the response was it’s difficult to evaluate online objects.  In fact there were a lot of librarians at LILAC presenting the development of online tutorials who were unable to effectively evaluate use. I would question whether students have the patience to work through these kind of tutorials?

I particularly liked Dina Koutsomichali’s presentation Using online polling systems in IL sessions.  As someone who has played with Clickers in the past and has had varying success with the technology, this looked like an interesting option.  The advantages of online polling are live anonymous interaction with large groups; it can be embedded in a powerpoint, VLE or webpage.  Dina advised that you use it only 3-5 times in a session otherwise students get bored.  Good sites to use are, and  Unlike Clickers you don’t need any handsets or specialist software.  Students can vote by texting on their mobile or online via their laptop.

Overall a good conference with lots of good ideas and thoughts to come away with.


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