MSc Information Management at UWE Bristol

LILAC (Information Literacy) Conference 2015 - a student's perspective   

Posted by Virginia Power | 0 Comments 

Posted on behalf of IM student Julie Albury

LILAC logo



I attended the Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC) between 8th and 10th April 2015 at Newcastle University.  This was the first conference I have had the opportunity to attend and I am very grateful to UWE for allowing me to go.  It was a fantastic experience and working in FE, one I’m unlikely to have again!


The three day conference focused on the following themes:  creative approaches to IL; IL for under 18s; IL and employability; delivering IL through new technologies; research based IL and outreach and collaboration.  The focus on the under 18s was of particular interest to me.  I work with 16 to 19 year olds and their IL skills will be the focus of my MSc dissertation.  Having this early opportunity to hear how other institutions are working with this transition group, from school to university, was really useful and gave me some very good information and contacts.


One of the greatest benefits of the LILAC conference is the contacts you make.  People who deliver the presentations are genuinely interested in their topics and want to share their knowledge and experiences.


The Conference


The conference was huge!  There were approximately six hours each day of various talks to attend.  There was so much going on, it was difficult to see everything and for each session, there was a choice of 5 different presentations to choose from.  Follow this link to the conference programme which includes a detailed abstract of each presentation:


A good selection of the presentations can also be found on the IL Group’s Slidshare page:  All the presentations posted in May are from LILAC15 and there are also lots of other IL presentations you might be interested in.


I made copious notes whilst I was at LILAC15.  These are too detailed to transcribe here, so I thought I’d try and share some of the things I found of particular interest and that you might also find interesting, particularly if you have an IL role or hope to acquire one.


1)         Threshold Concepts


There were two keynotes speeches that discussed threshold concepts: one by Ray Land, one of the original architecture of the principle from Durham University.  His presentation: There May be Trouble Ahead, can be found here:  This presentation was really interesting and identified how young people feel when faced with troublesome knowledge. Barbara Fister talked more about troublesome knowledge in her keynote speech on The Liminal Library.  I won’t go into detail about these talks as you have already seen my presentation (just to remind you the PowerPoint is available on Blackboard). 

Presentation:, transcript:


2)         The under 18s


The sessions on the under 18s was of particular interest to me and I went to a number of presentations.  Most dealt with IL skills for EPQ students and all identified this as the first opportunity for students to undertake their own piece of independent research. There were very few practitioners present who had any experience of delivering IL to the under 18s and the presenters basically offer a day visit to the university library, with a practical skills session, with no feedback nor follow-up.  However, these were


interesting sessions and highlighted the importance that universities place on IL skills in schools and the lack there of. 


The University of Newcastle’s sixth form outreach programme is so oversubscribed that they have just launched an online resource, fronted by Percy the Penguin.  Below is Percy and a link to their online course.  Take a look and see what you think.  Working with 16 to 19 year olds, I


feel they will think this character and the style of the online course is too juvenile and although the University team behind this have worked very hard and engaged professional artists to assist in its creation, they didn’t ask any 16 year olds for feedback before they went live.  The material available is interesting and available to ‘borrow’, however the team behind Percy the Penguin were not familiar with Creative Commons licensing and Newcastle University Library are going to address this so materials can be re-used. 


Percy the Penguin: 



Natasha Skeen, at the University of Worcester, shared her work with sixth formers and she offers a one day session with students and offers what I thought was a brilliant assessment tool, a poster.  The University of Worcester shares the Hive public library and the sixth form students can easily visit the University library. Natasha has made the online journals available to the sixth formers who are encouraged to come back to the library to complete their EPQ research.  Natasha’s PowerPoint:



Sarah Pavey from SP4IL (independent consultant) ran a session called What Does Independent Learning Feel Like? This was a fun, interactive session and if you look at the slides, you will see that it included lots of ‘fake’ pictures and optical illusions to illustrate that you cannot believe everything you find on the internet.  My favourite activity was looking at a couple of Wallace and Gromit ‘spot the difference’ pictures, similar to the ones below.  We were asked to look at the two pictures and raise our hands when we saw 3 differences.  This continued until we saw 7 differences.  The point Sarah was making is that when we do research, we need patience.  We may very quickly find the first 3 points, but it takes a considerably longer time to find all 7 and requires greater effort.  All the delegates enjoyed this practical session.  Those I spoke to, said they thought Sarah gave us some fun and useful tools to use with students to demonstrate how research can feel.  These activities supported a visual learning style and were easily transferrable between different context.  We all had a lovely time and this session proved to us, that no matter what your age, visual examples and activities are fun and made a lasting learning impact.  Don’t fear doing something different!



3)         Inductions


There were many sessions highlighting the importance of library inductions. Different institutions were experimenting with different approaches, many reducing the number of face-to-face sessions and increasing the use of online resources.  One University stood out for me and that was Manchester University Business School, Feeding the 500: Introducing Information Literacy to First Year Business and Management Undergraduate Students.  When the marvellous Anna Goatman joined the teaching staff, she approached the library to ask for IL teaching for her students.  The University had had a library reshuffle leaving only one Subject Librarian to ‘induct’ 550 students. 


Anna and her colleague, John Hynes came up with a plan.  They set the students an essay to research in order to access their IL skills.  The essay question was “Men Make Better Managers than Woman.  Discuss”.  All 550 students completed the essay and the exercise highlighted


their strengths and weaknesses and staff could identify areas for improvement.  John Pal, Subject Librarian, told us about the IL sessions he ran to huge numbers of students in one sitting:  the jokes he told; the bouncing around he did and how daunting it all felt.  This initiative was driven by Anna, the Holy Grail to all librarians, a member of teaching staff who’s interested in IL!  Here is the PowerPoint.  It appears much less interesting than the people themselves who were an inspiration. Feeding the 500:


4)         Present a Paper


Anyone can submit a paper to be considered for the conference.  It was interesting to see the wide variety of presentation styles and PowerPoint slideshows used.  Some were fantastic, some weren’t.  It gave me a lot of reassurance as a student, that in the work environment, things aren’t always perfect.  Some had been collecting the data they were presenting at the conference, only the week before.  Some presentations were too long, some were too short.  Some had so much information on them, we were overwhelmed. Lots of them were not as good as our recent assessment. So having said that, why not consider presenting a paper yourself?  Perhaps your dissertation research?  Here’s a link to a brief presentation on what you need to consider.  Have a think and why not have a go:




LILAC15 was a great opportunity and left a lasting impression on me.  It provided useful contacts and an opportunity to meet experts from the around the world. If you ever have an opportunity to attend LILAC or any of the CILIP conferences, grab it with both hands, you won’t regret it!




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