Firstly, I’d like to thank Amy and Helen at NLPN for their shout out in Information Professional last month-right back at you ladies, all about the signal boosting.
I was feeling like I’d been a lot “lazier” in my approach to Lilac than the previous year: I didn’t submit a paper or a poster, I went primarily to my mate’s sessions and the sessions I was chairing, and I utterly failed to take any coherent notes during the keynotes. Fortunately, the Lilac archive has including videos of all the keynotes and the slides to most of the sessions, so I have been able to take the time to go through them properly and really reflect on ideas that came to me at the time, which I will hopefully be more fully forming over the Summer. Now, a week later, I’m glad I was more conscious of looking after myself during Lilac by being more self-aware of how much energy it takes, and how by not presenting I was more able to take on board ideas of others without comparing them to my own (no performance comparison anxiety to worry about!).
Here, then, are my week later reflections of what was still a very busy conference, and how I reckon I’m going to use what I saw and experienced in my teaching.
Quick win I will definitely be doing
- Having students be involved in the creation of displays. Have the usual searching activity, but with the definite aim of creating a display of the found materials. Choose a topic aligned with social justice, or which will generate a discussion in the class about what to include/dismiss, and use this to think about what voices are missing from the information we see/who has the power of what we get to see first/how can be actively challenge that power within seeking, searching, creating and sharing.
This comes from Elizabeth Brookbank‘s excellent session on taking social justice into the library classroom. The highlight of the conference for me, Elizabeth’s truly reflective talk went from how she used literature, listening to voices of the communities via twitter, and critical theory (cpd…) to go from essentially creating a Black Live Matter libguide to developing active teaching classroom activities to get students thinking about information’s role in social justice. I really wish I had caught her other session on empowering students to be information creators as again it just sounds perfectly aligned to what I want to do within my praxis. I hope to see her speak again and will be following her work.
Something to think about
- Make sure students can challenge your usefulness. If you’re doing enquiry work, give them the space to challenge you and tell you if what you’re doing is genuinely useful. Dismantle the hierarchy of you being all knowing because you belong to a “profession”, instead try and work with the enquirer as equal partners in the quest for whatever it is they need.
This comes from Lauren Smith‘s session. Although there is a LOT of difference between working for the social sector and academia, we still both do reference desk style stuff on occasion and I still have a lot of work to do on not just showing someone how to find something, implicitly encouraging them to automatically accept a traditional hierarchy of evidence. Especially considering that sometimes that two minutes you get with someone on the enquiry desk is the only time they will ever talk to a librarian one to one, I should be really focusing on figuring out how to blast as much “think for yourself and question everything” as I can, whilst still doing my job and helping the enquirer with their reference question. Lauren highlighted The Feminist Reference Desk, edited by Maria T. Accardi, which I have recently read and found to be interesting, but I could have done with more practical “this is how you do the thing” examples, I think I was expecting it to be more like Feminist Pedagogy for Library Instruction, which is just superb. Still worth a read though, even if you’re just looking for something to nod your head along to in agreement.
Big challenge for the next year
- Go back to the information literacy research literature.
Since my first full Lilac in 2016 I have focused on learning about teaching. I have finished the PGCHE, which was a great impetus for reading a LOT about teaching methods, pedagogy and learning theories, and this interest has carried on into 2017. However, I have kind of forgotten/put aside the theories of information seeking behaviour that I learnt about whilst doing my Masters, and that is my error, because it is the models of information seeking behaviour (explored in Ola Pilerot’s keynote) which I should be using with the students to reflect upon what it is they are actually doing. It’s all very well me devising active learning aims to make them critically aware of the non-neutrality of search, and why vocabulary is important, if I haven’t contextualized that in the frame of searching/seeking/scanning that happens every day in their information lives. I need to go back to the books a bit, as to my shame I haven’t read half the references from Ola Pilerot’s keynote, or if I have it hasn’t been since 2014 and I can’t remember half of it!
So yes, lots of things to do, lots of reading, lots of thinking and most importantly lots of trying out stuff and seeing what works! I will of course be sharing any new activities I try on this blog (and I’ve already got an idea of modeling Wilson’s model of information behaviour in the classroom that will involve lots of moving around and will be tied into the Searching as Strategic Exploration framework, which I might test on my Brownies first…). First think is to crack on with the reading list I think!
I do have one thought on the conference which is a little less positive, and that is Noise Etiquette, particularly in terms of the noises made by devices and phones whilst taking photos, sending or receiving messages, or typing. I think having these noises on during sessions (unless you need to be alerted for emergencies or whatever) is really disrespectful both to the speaker and to the audience, and it distracted me a fair bit during this one. I know that sounds like a massive whinge, but I feel like I have to get it off my chest. If you don’t know how to turn your camera noise off, then I would suggest that instructions on how to do this for pretty much any device can now be found online.
Looking forward to Lilac 2019, in Nottingham.