Monday, 30 April 2018

Dr Andrew Cox involved in editing special issue of Library Trends

Information School Senior Lecturer Dr Andrew Cox has been involved in a collaboration to edit a major new collection of papers about Information and the body for the journal Library Trends.

The centrality of embodied experience in all aspects of human life makes the relative neglect of the body in information behaviour studies surprising and potentially problematic. Two special issues of Library Trends bring together an international group of researchers interested in embodied information, including how we receive information through the senses, what the body knows and the way the body is used as a sign that can be interpreted by others.

Contributing authors include Professor Marcia Bates. The first of the two issues has just been published. The second issue is due out later in the year, and includes a paper by former student Kondwani Wella, with Senior Lecturer Sheila Webber.

Read the full text here.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

LILAC 2018 Student Blog - Laura Palmer

MA Library and Information Services Management (Distance Learning) student Laura Palmer attended the LILAC Conference 2018 in Liverpool, along with other staff and students from the Information School. Here are her thoughts on the conference.

LILAC 2018 from a distance learning LIS student perspective

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to attend LILAC 2018, a conference all about information literacy and librarianship, which I have wanted to attend since starting out in librarianship. In September 2016 I began studying for the MA in Library and Information Services Management by distance at the Information School, and at the same time began teaching IL in my previous job role in the HE in FE sector. My experience was that of being ‘thrown in at the deep end’; my enthusiasm for all things library and learning ‘accidentally’ landed me the role of coordinating and designing the Library’s IL provision. Since then I have been keen to learn all I can about excellence in IL teaching from the experts!

For a distance learner, promoting the Information School on their LILAC conference stand was a great experience. I’ve only met a handful of students and staff since I began studying, so to finally meet and spend some time people I have been working with virtually for almost two years was in itself worthwhile. I also got to chat to several prospective PhD and MA distance learners, helping them to build a picture of the joys and challenges of being an iSchool distance learner (it’s tough juggling the work-study-life balance, but also incredibly satisfying!) and met many, many alumni who had plenty of helpful tips about surviving MA life. Number one suggestion - make the most of bursary opportunities like this if you possibly can! They can help you to keep up with the latest developments in the field and meet helpful contacts from whom to seek expert advice on different areas when needed.

So to the sessions, and the first keynote from Barbara Band (@bcb567) got underway with a very enthusiastic ‘hush’ of librarians (Sarah Pittaway @dr_sarah_p handily informing us of the appropriate collective noun!), gathered not-so-quietly (the sound of keyboards tweeting en masse can be surprisingly loud!). Barbara questioned whether misuse of the terms ‘library’ and ‘librarian’, and acceptance of alternative terms such as ‘Learning Lounge’ may be contributing to de-professionalism, before speaking about the need to advocate for IL in schools, which suffers from not being a mandatory requirement. She highlighted how many students’ first experience of IL education comes at university, and considered the ‘elephant in the room’ - why is it not on the schools’ curriculum when it would give students a better start at university and work? This particularly resonated with me, as my experience in HE in FE was of supporting students who had never used a library, written an academic essay, or referenced before. When I reflected on where I had learned most of my information skills, it was at university, rather than at school.

Following on from this I attended the parallel session on one practical solution to this issue: ‘Bridging the gap: should we reach out to schools to prepare ‘research ready’ students? ‘ by Carolyn Benny and Pauline Smith of LJMU. It was great to hear a successful example of academic libraries working with schools to support information literacy and prepare students for university. I then changed topic to scholarly communications to hear about how UK Copyright Literacy have created ‘The Publishing Trap’ board game to help early-career researchers get to grips with Open Access and scholarly communications, which provided some helpful insights for my academic libraries module coursework!

On day 2, I attended sessions on embedding, flipping and actively teaching IL, discovering lots of new ways to extend IL learning into the curriculum beyond the library induction. The keynote Ola Pilerot provided a thought-provoking talk about how different information literacies are developed by people for their own purposes, warning against predefining IL as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ practices. In the final keynote Dave Wight reminded us of the problems presented by our dataselves - the trails we leave behind when using digital media. Our dataselves are used to tailor online content to our existing views - and can leave us with a skewed picture of the world and polarised public opinion. He left us with the advice: “don’t fear complexity”, a good message in this age of soundbites and increasing news by twitter.

My first ‘residential conference’ experience also provided my first conference ‘formal social’ events, and huge congratulations to the LILAC organising committee for their superb choices! The Networking Evening was a true Night at the Museum - with the unique opportunity of a private viewing of the Terracotta Warriors exhibition. Going to a museum with a group (sorry, hush!) of librarians is so satisfying - everyone suitably awed by the artefacts and making proper use of the provided ‘metadata’. I didn’t last long as my first day had worn me out, and the next evening held the exciting prospect of Conference Dinner.

Another ‘wow’ moment - dinner at the atmospheric Metropolitan Cathedral, or as Dave Wight (@daveowight) put it “in a crypt with about 300 librarians”. Excellent food (particularly the crowd-pleaser sticky toffee pudding), a bit of wine, good company, and, in the spirit of LILAC, there were of course plenty of games, including an origami challenge (I failed miserably), and a book raffle, in which I won an informational book about cow breeds. Someone asked to swap (didn’t catch her name - networking fail!) for their winning copy of ‘Ted Rules the World’ by Frankie Cottrell-Boyce. Of course I obliged - FCB is after all a CILIP Carnegie Medal winner!

Despite returning to the reality of catching-up with coursework (particularly my dissertation proposal), and feeling guilty about how I’d largely spent my time having ‘fun’, I would recommend any LIS student to apply for a conference bursary, and to allow yourself time to attend any CPD events which interest you. What you get out of the experience is much more than the knowledge shared at the sessions - it’s a renewed sense of enthusiasm for what professional librarians do (particularly important when the coursework is piling up!) and a sense of being part of the wider, and very supportive, library community. You’ll go home with a longer reading and wish-list for your practice than you will have time to achieve - but you’ll also know who to ask for help putting the ideas into practice!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

LILAC 2018 Student Blog - Chloe Beswick

MA Librarianship student Chloe Beswick attended the LILAC Conference 2018 in Liverpool, along with other staff and students from the Information School. Here are her thoughts on the conference.

I was one of the students fortunate enough to receive an Information School student bursary to attend LILAC 2018 in Liverpool. LILAC (Librarian’s Information Literacy Annual Conference) is an opportunity for librarians and information professionals to come together and discuss information literacy and explore what libraries are doing to teach and develop information literacy skills.

This was the first time I had ever attended an academic conference and it was such a brilliant experience. Everyone was so enthusiastic about information literacy! As a MA student, I thought I would feel out of place, but it was soon clear that delegates came from a variety of library backgrounds. During the three days, I helped at the Information School exhibition stand which was a great opportunity to meet other delegates, speak to prospective students and chat to Information School alumni.

As this was my first conference, I was very excited to go to all the parallel sessions and discover what other libraries were doing in regards to information literacy. Over the three days, there were over 70 different parallel sessions scheduled and trying to decide which session to go for was a challenge! LILAC is a very Twitter heavy conference, so you could often catch up on the sessions you missed by following #lilac18.

One of the reasons I wanted to attend LILAC was to develop my own skills and knowledge of information literacy, so I was really keen to go to parallel sessions that seemed to offer something slightly different, that explored different teaching styles or professional sectors. For instance, I went to a session about creating information literacy frameworks for medical students ('Bridging gaps in information literacy skills using a customised information literacy for medical undergraduates' - Rebecca Lavanie David and Caroline Pang Soo Ling), whilst another session I went to involved playing a copyright themed board game ('Helping academics escape the Publishing Trap: a LILAC masterclass in copyright literacy' - Chris Morrison and Jane Secker).

One of my favourite parallel sessions of the conference discussed embedding librarianship into information literacy teaching ('Becoming essential to information literacy support: “What does embedded even mean?”' - Laurence Morris and Kirsty Bower). In this parallel session, it was argued that librarians and information literacy should be embedded in the university curriculum rather than been seen as an ‘add-on’ for students. The session provided great examples of the innovative ways librarians supported students and faculties such as embedding librarians in the teaching of information literacy in a high security prisons and how librarians assisted in furthering student publication with an open access journal for undergraduate students.

All the parallel sessions I went to discussed and approached information literacy in a slightly different way, which made me question my own understanding of what information literacy is. I found the sessions particularly valuable as they all brought real, practical experience into the discussions.

The majority of the conference papers and posters are now available on the LILAC Conference website and I would encourage everyone to take a look as they show the sheer diversity of sessions that took place!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Major Library and Information conference held at the Information School a Success

Last month University of Sheffield’s Information School was privileged to be the first University in the UK to host the prestigious iConference.

Held at the end of March in Sheffield, in collaboration with Northumbria University, the iConference was attended by over 400 delegates from around the world and across the library and information field. This year’s theme focused on ‘Transforming Digital Worlds’ with keynote sessions from eminent figures in the information world including: Dr Lynn Silipigni Connaway (OCLC Research), Dr Susan Dumais, (Microsoft Research) and Professor Luciano Floridi, (Oxford Internet Institute).

“The keynotes were real highlights of the iConference”, says Professor Gillet, Conference Chair and Professor of Chemoinformatics at the Information School. “We had three well-known figures in the field summarising their work and giving their perspectives on different aspects of the information field. The iSchools organisation often talks about the triad of information, technology and people, and we chose keynote speakers to focus on each of those three. They did an excellent job of addressing these different aspects of our field.”

Professor Gillet added that “The response has been really positive” to the 2018 conference. “Lots of people really liked the venue and Sheffield as a place, and there have been lots of positive comments on the organisation and content.”

“It’s been a very positive event for the School, especially within the iSchools organisation”, says Professor Gillet. “It was a great chance to showcase some of our facilities, our work and our PhD students – many of whom acted as volunteers, and did a fantastic job. Sheffield has a great reputation already, but many people hadn’t had a chance to visit before.” 

In terms of a running theme thorough the conference, Professor Gillet says that one message she took away was “There is still a lot to do in the information field and it is clear that there is an increasing need to study information science as a discipline. Lots of people think that they know how to handle information, but there are still many societal and technical issues associated with getting the information you need when you need it, and organising and using information effectively, and ethical issues related to information access and use.”

The iConference is organised every year by the iSchools organisation and last year was held in Wuhan, China, in 2019 it will be held at the University of Maryland, Washington DC, US.

You can find out more about the iConference on the iSchools website here and you can find out more about the Information School’s courses here.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Update: Information School’s Professor Tom Wilson receives his ASIS&T Award of Merit

Professor Emeritus of the Information School and leading figure in the information field Tom Wilson was awarded the ASIS&T (Association for Information Science & Technology) Award of Merit, the Association's highest award, in September 2017. This award recognises sustained contributions to the field of information science and marks a lifetime of achievements for Professor Wilson, who now joins a list of well-respected figures in information science who have won the award previously.

Professor Wilson was presented with the award at the 2017 ASIS&T Annual meeting held in October 27- November 1 2017 in Washington DC. Professor Wilson could not attend the event in person and his award was sent to his home in Sheffield. Professor Paul Clough was recently able to catch up with Professor Wilson and his award.

Professor Wilson’s response to receiving the award:

"Many of the previous recipients of the Award are heroes of mine - people like Cyril Cleverdon, Robert Fairthorne, and Gene Garfield - and I'm rather astonished that I should be joining the list. The Award may not be well known in the world outside information science, but it is highly regarded within that world, and I am greatly honoured to receive it."

Monday, 9 April 2018

Dr Paul Reilly has new article published in School Mental Health

Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Reilly has had a new article published in the journal School Mental Health. The article, based on research funded by the Wellcome Trust and led by Michelle O’Reilly (Leicester University), focuses on adolescent mental health and is based on data gathered from focus groups conducted with adolescents, mental health practitioners and educational professionals. The article is available Online First here and the full citation and abstract can be viewed below.

O’Reilly, M., Adams, S., Whiteman, N., Hughes, J., Reilly, P., & Dogra, N. (2018) Whose responsibility is adolescent’s mental health in the UK? The perspectives of key stakeholders, School Mental Health. DOI 10.1007/s12310-018-9263-6

The mental health of adolescents is a salient contemporary issue attracting the attention of policy makers in the UK and other countries. It is important that the roles and responsibilities of agencies are clearly established, particularly those positioned at the forefront of implementing change. Arguably, this will be more effective if those agencies are actively engaged in the development of relevant policy.

An exploratory study was conducted with 10 focus groups including 54 adolescents, 8 mental health practitioners and 16 educational professionals. Thematic analysis revealed four themes: (1) mental health promotion and prevention is not perceived to be a primary role of a teacher; (2) teachers have limited skills to manage complex mental health difficulties; (3) adolescents rely on teachers for mental health support and education about mental health; and (4) the responsibility of parents for their children’s mental health.

The research endorses the perspective that teachers can support and begin to tackle mental well-being in adolescents. However, it also recognises that mental health difficulties can be complex, requiring adequate funding and support beyond school. Without this support in place, teachers are vulnerable and can feel unsupported, lacking in skills and resources which in turn may present a threat to their own mental well-being.