At the moment, I’m writing up some research I’m doing on students transferring information literacy skills (or not) – of which more later – and in the last 3 group interviews (with 2/3 teachers and 1 TL) I’ve been asking the group to define information literacy. The TLs tend to identify it as a process although not exclusively. The teachers talk about ‘ability’ and there is a stress on finding information although a couple of teachers extended this to understanding and applying what’s found. There is little agreement however and in all 3 schools, it was clear that neither the participants in the interviews nor other school staff had, in fact, discussed what information literacy might include/exclude. There is an element of ‘plus ca change‘ here in that when I ran an information skills project 20 years ago, there was confusion in schools about what ‘information skills’ were, apart from the fact that school librarians were insisting that it was broader than library skills. So it may be a good idea for TLs to think about whether their teachers a) have ever thought about what information literacy might be defined and b) whether it might be possible to get some discussion going on information literacy so that both teachers and librarians might not end up singing from the same song sheet, but at least they would all have access to the same song sheet. For more on teachers’ views of information literacy, see the report by Dorothy Williams.
Talking of singing – today is Burns Day – 25th January – and the birthday of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns. Burns Day or more particularly Burns Night is celebrated all over the world and indeed, it is often celebrated with more gusto by expatriate Scots. There was an excellent review of Burns the poet by Andrew O’Hagan who writes that Burns “ is loved for his conviviality, humanity and passion for liberty”. Burns Night features the famous Burns Supper at which attendees eat haggis, neeps (turnip in Scotland, swede outside Scotland) and tatties (potatoes for the posh) and toast the poet with whisky. Burns Suppers can be be amusing, informative and musical but be warned, there are some Burns Suppers (typically all male) which can be a mixture of boredom and sleep-inducement as kilted worthies (so they think) drone on about Burns’ life – avoid this type. Me? I’m off tae have a wee dram.