Darryl Toerien, Head of Library at Oakham School at LILAC19

On the SLIC blog this week our Information Literacy Project Manager Amanda Joykin talks about how her trip to LILAC19 really reinforced the message of how important IL skills are in today's society. Amanda joined the SLIC team in March and is currently developing an IL Toolkit for school libraries. 


Dramatic title? Perhaps, but it seems apt to use the above as clickbait, not to take the ‘can’t beat them join them’ approach but to shout that IL skills are absolutely crucial for an engaged and functional society.

I was very fortunate to recently attend my first Librarians Information Literacy Annual Conference in Nottingham. Organised by CILIP’s Information Literacy Group, the conference brings together experts and researchers. It is ‘aimed at librarians and information professionals who teach information literacy skills, are interested in digital literacies and who want to improve the information seeking and evaluation skills of all library users” (LILAC, 2018).

This was exactly where I needed to be, as in my new SLIC role I am working to develop an IL toolkit for school libraries. I have been gathering as much information as I can about the current state of IL provision in schools; meeting school librarians to find out about what worked well, what challenges they faced and talking to academic librarians to find out their perspectives on the IL skills gap. LILAC 2019 presented the perfect opportunity for me to find out about the latest research, innovative ideas, new approaches and to listen and meet people with experience of teaching IL. In the end however I left LILAC with so much more.

The IL Sessions

Darren Flynn and Becky Collins from Coventry University at LILAC 2019Sandeep Mahal, Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, opened the conference with her keynote message about the power of literacy in helping cities address its biggest challenges. Her team’s work to provide as many reading opportunities to everyone is shining a beacon for how amazing things start to happen when there is investment in a reading culture. Ruth Carlyle, Head of Library & Knowledge Services and Technology Enhanced Learning for the Midlands and the East of England, spoke about why health literacy matters and the serious implications of a society that lacks these skills.

There were so many interesting sessions taking place it was quite a challenge deciding on which ones to attend. Lindsey Watson from the University of Huddersfield presented her research on young children and their perceptions of online safety. In her workshop attendees analysed a selection of picture books and were prompted to think about how storytelling could be used to teach online safety. As she spoke about findings that the age at which children are engaging with digital information and technology is getting lower, I thought about how the IL toolkit could address this. 

IL and the Classroom

With the title ‘School Librarian and Teacher Collaboration: Finding the Hook to Engage Teachers with Information Literacy and Talk Yourself into the Classroom’, Elizabeth Hutchinson’s session was one I could not miss. I follow Elizabeth on Twitter and she has been a true champion for school libraries. She spoke about how she uses technology to open doors to working with teachers and waving the flag about what school librarians can offer to teachers - especially when they may struggle to find the time to learn and deliver tech-infused lessons. 

This is just a snapshot of what was delivered; there were sessions on new ways to evaluate sources that considered the emotional aspect of our interaction with information and examples of universities using Wikipedia as a teaching tool. I would highly recommend visiting the LILAC archive which hosts all the presentations, it is a great resource and I am still working my way through past years’ presentations. I have found some great ideas there to take into libraries and will definitely be signposting some of the resources in the toolkit.