Sunday, 4 April 2010

My last LILAC?

[edited to correct error of attribution]

I’ve been thinking about how best to blog LILAC 2010 (my third LILAC). I’d normally just write something up about all the sessions I’d attended – whether they were particularly useful to me or not. Not this year. In line with the whole getting down with reflection tip I’m on at the moment, I’m going to do a bit of a round up and then blog thematically about the stuff that actually made some impact on me.

So this is the round up and I’ll start with the positive stuff. As usual the conference was really well organised. The venue was great, the programme was packed and the presenters were all knowledgeable and obviously passionate about information literacy (IL). In particular there were a couple of really good sessions on reflective practice that have moved on my thinking in that area.

And it was heartening that the Scottish Information Literacy Project is still getting plaudits (as it has for the last couple of years), in particular for our emphasis on partnership working and success in bringing together librarians from all sectors, and gosh, sometimes, even non librarians! The national framework developed by the project has proved to be an inspiration to a number of other countries.

Wales is a good example. In December 2009, an event, organised by WHELF (Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum) and funded by CyMAL considered the development of a cross-sectoral information literacy framework (for a report, see Karl Drinkwater's post on the RSC Wales blog). An action plan was agreed - including a draft statement and formulation of a steering group. And CyMAL are now providing funding for an information literacy development officer. So perhaps Wales will end up with an IL framework that has statutory authority – something we’ve not been able to achieve in Scotland.

The Irish are also following our lead. Phillip Cohen from the Library Association of Ireland’s Working Group on Information Literacy admitted to stalking anyone connected with the project (including ourselves!) at the conference.
However…I think this will probably be my last LILAC. For a start, I don’t ‘do’ information literacy as my day job anymore. I’m still very passionate about it – which is why I’m more than happy to help facilitate our IL Community of Practice – but it would be difficult to justify my attendance at a conference that has such a narrow focus.

To be honest, I’m not sure I’d want to attend next year anyway. It was great to see that in this – the first LILAC held outside of the UK the delegate list was very international. But, it was disappointing, yet again, that the vast majority of attendees where academic librarians (HE predominantly). There were a few more workplace and school librarians than in previous years, but public librarians were very hard to find. 

Tony Durcan, Head of Culture, Libraries and Lifelong Learning, Newcastle City Council, keynote speaker on day one, talked about the key role public libraries can play in the digital inclusion agenda – and to me, this is where information literacy can have the greatest impact. Yet we had, maybe, one public librarian at the conference?

An even bigger issue for me though, is that every LILAC we talk about how IL isn’t just for libraries/librarians. Yet that’s what LILAC is – librarians talking to other librarians. Perhaps we need to change what the ‘L’ stands for in LILAC and find ways to encourage more non-librarians to attend. 

And from a personal learning perspective, I’m not sure I get much from attending traditional conferences these days. I had a great time at LILAC, but I’m not convinced I learnt anything I wouldn’t have gleaned from following the conference tweets, blog posts, etc. And I can make connections just as easily online as I can at a conference. (It doesn’t help that I really dislike travelling these days!)

This is very much a personal view and I’d like to emphasise it is no way a criticism of the conference organisers – who do an absolutely fantastic job. We all have a responsibility to venture outside our comfort zone sometimes and have conversations with the 'unconverted'. But I do wonder how sustainable the conference is in it’s current format? 

Further posts to follow. In the meantime, if you want to find out more about LILAC 2010, try these links:

Andy Walsh’s live blogging: 
Elini Zazani’s Delicious bookmarks:


Dave said...

Hi Lesley

Shame you didn't get as much out of this event as you would like - are you involved in NGLIS - the public sector librarian-type's network?

I'm speaking at their next event in Liverpool on 14th April - would be great if you could make it. Details here :

Lel said...

Hi Dave

Yes, good to hear you'll be at a NGLIS event. As mentioned in my post us librarian types need to be talking more (and listening to!) more non-librarians.

Won't be there I'm afraid. I think I have literally developed a pathological hatred of travelling for work related purposes (don't much like it for non work related purposes either mind!) Probably goes back to the time when I worked in UKTI and did a lot of travelling, and got a bit fed up with it. But it's also because I have a fairly lengthy daily commute anyway. And because I am old ;-)

Which is kind of why I'm keen on a Scottish govcamp! :-)

Nick Booth said...

Thanks for your comment.