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LILAC 2022: Origami bees and sunflower seeds

As I collected my lanyard and notebook at the start of the LILAC information literacy conference, I noticed a bee theme. From a display of origami bees crafted by delegates to the logo on the cover of our conference notebooks, bees reflected this year’s Manchester setting. They also reminded me of the value of library conferences. Like bees working together, the conference allowed library and information professionals from around the world to gather and share ideas around information literacy.

The sessions that addressed library teaching with diverse learners stood out to me, as one of the reasons I wanted to attend LILAC was to keep working on the inclusivity of my teaching skills. One of these was a session on ‘Dyslexia, creativity and information-seeking: how can academic librarians acknowledge neurodiversity in their information literacy teaching practice?’ by Lynne Beveridge. This session helped us to understand some of the barriers undergraduates with dyslexia encounter in their information-seeking as well as the creativity and problem-solving skills that these students bring.

Another useful session was ‘The value of librarian-led information literacy lessons for higher education students in the further education college environment’ by Jo Lapham. It was interesting to see how students navigate the unique challenges of information literacy in the further education environment and to hear Jo advocate for the impact of library-led information literacy sessions with these students, who do not always have access to the same opportunities as students who attend a higher education institution during their degree.      

Some of the sessions introduced a broader perspective on information literacy. A session called ‘Serving and supporting students as whole people: leisure reading for information literacy, lifelong learning, and mental and emotional well-being’ by Elizabeth Brookbank connected information literacy with the reading that students do outside of their courses, taking a more holistic approach than a narrow focus on skills to meet the requirements of assessment. I also liked the session on ‘Wikipedia, Student activism, and the Ivory Tower’ by Ewan McAndrew which described an initiative where students are rewarded for using their subject knowledge and information skills to contribute to Wikipedia. I enjoyed these opportunities to expand my definition of IL and discover where it might unexpectedly overlap with other library topics.

The keynote talks and question sessions prompted us to step back and reflect on how we work in information literacy. During the panel by Manchester Metropolitan University students, we were encouraged to think about how information literacy related interactions in our work can impact wellbeing. On the second day, Marilyn Clarke, Director of Library Services at Goldsmiths, talked about decolonisation in education and how we should bring an awareness of this to our information literacy activities. In the final talk, Emily Drabinski, Critical Pedagogy Librarian at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, reminded us that librarians’ knowledge of the power structures inherent in information and how it is organised is an important contribution that we can offer in our information literacy teaching. These sessions gave us plenty to discuss in the tea and biscuit breaks and to apply to our own practice.

As well as a notebook full of notes and a head full of ideas, I brought home a packet of sunflower seeds from the Media and Information Literacy Alliance stall. I like this as a metaphor for the ongoing impact of the conference: ideas were planted in the heads of delegates and continue to be nurtured and grow in the contexts of our own work, study and research.

- Emmy Ingle

MA Librarianship student

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