Missing Link Conference

Missing Link Conference: 19 March 2012, Birmingham City University.

Making the connection between information literacy and an excellent student experience.

Papers presented a snap-shot of information literacy projects and methods in the new higher-education environment.  From traditional inductions and lectures to the use of e-technologies to deliver online tutorials.  Tweets from the conference were made under the #missinglink12 hashtag and archived in Storify.

1. Preparing health and social care students for university.  Neil Donohue and Monica Casey (Salford University) described their pre-induction programme, delivered to students before degree starts, and delivered in collaboration between library, academic and student union.

2. Creating a reusable online information literacy tutorial for researchers. Chris Bark (Coventry University) and Liz Martin (De Montford University) described the East Midlands Research Support Group (EMRSG) consortium project to create on online tutorial using Xerte.

3. Getting your foot in the door – library liaison and research skills in university departments. Nicola Conway (University of Durham) described the Scholarly Skills Exercise whereby library services and information literacy skills are embedded and assessed into the curriculum in a first year induction module.

4. eLearning, innovation and information literacy. Sarah Pittaway and Catherine Robertson (University of Birmingham) described how they have used Xerte to deliver online library and information literacy tutorials.  Tutorials were embedded into curriculum via VLE (Web-CT), and students completed tutorials either as self-study or supervised in class. Aim to free-up librarian’s time to teach higher level information literacy skills.

5. Collaboration between Centre for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) and Library and Learning resources to improve student experience. Jenny Eland and Christiana Titahmboh (Birmingham City University) described how information literacy and employability skills are embedded across university degrees. Also highlighted benefits of teacher training (PG Cert. HE) for librarians, so as to better undertand academics, and deliver more effective teaching and learning to students.

The conference helped me to understand the concept of embedded librarianship – the dream that library and information literacy skills should be delivered as part of the curriculum.  Our ability to achieve this depends upon the relationships we build with our academics through academic liaison. 

‘User education’ has progressed somewhat since my days at library school.  Teaching does not equal Learning.  Librarians are now teachers: indeed many librarians now undertake teacher training (PG Cert. HE).  This enables them to understand the culture of academia, gain respect from academic colleagues, and practice good teaching techniques in the classroom. 

I also discovered the ‘pre-induction’ – a pre-course introduction or orientation to the university and library service.  While I could not commit to additional teaching hours, I do think there is merit in delivering a pre-induction using e-learning technologies, thus enabling librarians to concentrate on teaching advanced information literacy skills.

I was surprised by the negative comments surrounding the use of VLEs (virtual learning environments).  Librarians are increasingly making their information literacy resources available on public websites and blogs, because they offer  more permanent repository, and open access to students before, during and after their degree courses.

In the next 6 months, I will have the opportunity to work on a pre-induction study skills programme for distance learning foundation degree criminology students, and embedding library and information literacy skills into the master of laws academic writing module.  I hope that I will be able to use the opportunity to develop relationships with the academics and raise the profile of information skills in higher education.