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Information Literacy in the Scottish Government
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Information Literacy in the Scottish Government


Presentation given with Jenny Foreman at the Librarians Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC) in March 2009.

Presentation given with Jenny Foreman at the Librarians Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC) in March 2009.

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  • Our IL case study is based in a workplace. What are we doing about information literacy at the Scottish Government? 2. We use the CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) definition of information literacy (2003) i.e knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner.’
  • Quote from Fiona Hyslop, MSP. 2007 from the foreword of Skills for Scotland. A Lifelong Skills Strategy. Although IL not mentioned explicitly but the relevant skills are there. 2. In Skills for Scotland A Lifelong Learning Strategy Fiona Hyslop mentions a smarter Scotland being at the heart of everything. Information Literacy will enable SG staff to work smarter and provide value to their work and the SG in turn. 3. As an organisation and workforce, information, skills and learning are at the heart of the Scottish Government.
  • 1. The second quote from John Crawford is academic At Glasgow Caledonian University and the Director of the Scottish Information Literacy Project. 2. SG Library Services are partners in the project and have been working with John and Christine Irving over the past few years. As part of that partnership John and Christine interviewed a number of SG staff about their experiences in searching for and using information. The resulting paper authored by John and Christine has been published.Around the same time, Library Services also carried out a similar piece of research this time in questionnaire format. The main findings from both pieces of research included: Next slide
  • 1. Introverted information culture – people search internally for information rather than external sources 2. Searching for information is a major activity – SG staff spend a lot of time and not all of it successfully finding information. One interviewee said that 20% of his time was spent searching for information. 3. Advanced search techniques tend not to be used so instead of knowing how to restrict the amount of info from a search, customers wade through too much information. Learning advanced search tools would be more efficient and effective in finding information 4. People are a primary source of information. 99% of respondents to the survey cited ‘colleagues and contacts’ as ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ useful information sources
  • The above quotes are from the Information Use Survey mentioned earlier which was sent out to all SG staff by Library Services.
  • 1. This begs the question so why do we want to change these opinions and make the SG information literate? An information literate worker will be a flexible, self-directed lifelong learner. An information literate workforce, able to locate, evaluate and use information for the benefit of the organisation , will increasingly be a key factor in our organisational success, saving the organisation time and resources, thus providing tangible return on investment. 2. Taking into account our recent pieces of research, feedback from our users on courses and discussions with our library colleagues we have come up with the following plans.
  • Published widely, presented at conferences, talked to anyone who would listen! The SG Information Strategy…[bit about information strategy] Most importantly so that our views and suggestions could become part of the internal procedures within the SG, we have drafted an Information Literacy Strategy. By linking our Information Literacy Strategy to the Information Strategy, we can then go on to provide a framework for creating an information literate Scottish Government. We were asked to compose an executive summary so that the document could be easily digested by senior managers (who don’t have time to read through the whole document.)
  • Making our services easier to access Making our information resources easier to use Revamped and made links with other learning pages to make it easier for the user. More of a one stop shop
  • October 2008 A federated search engine – known as Webfeat but rebranded as K and E Kandy = Knowledge and Evidence was introduced onto the Library Services Intranet pages. Using Kandy via the Scottish Digital Library Consortium. 6 other Webfeat users – universities and NLS are involved. Only failing is that you have to key in a password and username so it’s not quite as easy as Google for our users. But we have a government secure network to get through so unfortunately the passwords etc is necessary for the moment.
  • Word cloud of a list of all the search words used in Kandy ( K & E, Knowledge and Evidence). The bigger the word the more it has been used in a search.( I wondered why the word cheese comes up so large!) We’re promoting Kandy on the eLibrary pages and at every information event held.
  • 1. One of our colleagues, Paul at the Pirate Workshop which is a popular for Away days or Corporate Learning Services (CLS) Learning at work week. 2. The feedback is excellent and we now collate feedback from all events so that we can evaluate our services.
  • As a result of the findings in the research undertaken by SILP and Library Services, the Scottish Government has developed and is rolling out an information literacy skills programme. 1. Library Services run a variety of courses to improve information literacy skills Fun hour long seminars e.g the Pirate Workshop Essential and Advanced Internet Skills courses Bespoke searching training for researchers, etc such as Research into Evidence Drop-ins or Borrow a librarian at people’s desks for an hour so they don’t need to move! Revised course content and ongoing process 2. Training is now being implemented in different buildings 3. Searching courses – tailored to the particular subject area of responsibility (eg last year we gave a very focused searching session for civil justice researchers) 4. One to ones (or to small groups) 5. Internet quiz – aka ‘pirate workshop’ – ideal for an away day (can do at pretty short notice and anywhere we can get an internet connection) Bespoke training e.g Advanced information into evidence training
  • Some positive feedback from our courses. Feedback from enquiries – customer feedback now being collated 2. Feedback from courses – customer feedback now being collated 3. This information is now being reported to senior management and they are now taking an interest in IL. We are currently writing a short presentation for our senior manager to deliver to the Senior Civil Servant Board.
  • What is still to be done? Information Literacy Strategy needs to be taken on board by senior management within the SG. We need buy in and commitment to uphold the key proposals so we’re drafting a short 10 min presentation for our Senior Manager to take to the SG Senior Management Board. Expand on the skills and behaviour issues identified in the IMU Information Use Survey and the research undertaken by SILP to define a suitable framework for embedding core, transferable, information literacy skills throughout the organisation at all levels 2. Internal partnerships - CLS Corporate Learning Services, Policy Team, Skills for Scotland: Lifelong Skills Team Ensure that wherever there is learning in the SG, it is information literate. Where there are gaps, facilitate the integration of information literacy into all relevant learning forums in partnership with CLS and other learning providers. Liaise with CLS in the development of an extended corporate induction event which now includes a session on the development of information skills Work with SG Policy skills team to produce a training session for their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme 3. External partnerships – Scottish Information Literacy Partnership (SILP), nhs Scotland,
  • What further action is planned? 1. Investigate the information needs and existing skills of complex information users (e.g analysts, policy makers, lawyers, senior civil servants, finance teams) and develop tailored information skills training 2. Further develop our training packages with a view to embracing Web 2.0 technologies 3. Facilitate and support information specialists/librarians in enhancing their role as information skills educators With the emphasis on additional training, ensure that librarians are proficient as information skills educators and trainers.
  • What further action is planned? (Continued) 1. Evaluate and measure our success. This is a difficult task especially as there are no real examples to follow within the workplace but Library Services are compiling statistics and comments for all the training courses and events. 2. Promote information literacy across the wider public sector landscape in Scotland. We need to engage with our external stakeholders and this is one possible route to take. If the SG can be seen to be a working example of how an information literate workforce is of benefit to the organisation, playing a key factor in organisational success, saving the organisation time and resources, thus providing tangible return on investment, then we can help other organisations do the same.
  • Any questions? It would be great to have your feedback and or ideas on how we could develop our services and how we could further our research into IL in the workplace. Thank you.


  • 1. Information Literacy in the Scottish Government Jenny Foreman Lesley Thomson March 2009
  • 2. A smarter Scotland is at the heart of everything we want to achieve for this country. We can only build a Scotland that is wealthier and fairer, one that is healthier, safer, stronger and greener, if people are equipped with the skills, expertise and knowledge for success. Fiona Hyslop, MSP. 2007. Skills for Scotland.
  • 3. “ If Scotland is to remain an advanced economy it is essential that its people should understand how to access information, assess it critically and use it discriminatingly , in other words be information literate and have the necessary information literacy skills and competencies.” Dr John Crawford
  • 4. What we found
    • Inward looking information culture
    • Searching for information is a major activity
    • Advanced search techniques not used
    • People are the primary source of information
  • 5. Challenges
    • “ I borrowed books many years ago but since everything has gone electronic the library has faded into obscurity ”
    • “ In the age of the internet I see no need for , or relevance of, Library Services ”
    • “ More efficient to search for the information I require myself since I am reasonably IT and internet literate”
  • 6. What are we doing about it and why?
  • 7.
    • Raised our profile
    • Information strategy
    • Information literacy strategy
    Getting noticed
  • 8.  
  • 9.  
  • 10.  
  • 11.  
  • 12. Training
    • Google Treasure Hunt
    • Essential Internet Skills
    • Advanced Internet Skills
    • Information ‘drop-ins’
    • Induction
  • 13.
    • “ Most enjoyable, light-hearted and fun. I learnt about Advanced Google , so good I’ve used it twice in the last hour and managed to find information I’ve been looking for over the last couple of weeks.”
    • “ I hadn’t really thought about advanced searches before, so this was really beneficial.”
    • “ very useful as well as enjoyable – should be rolled out to everyone in the Scottish Government .”
  • 14. Next steps
    • Information literacy strategy buy in
    • Closer working with stakeholders in the organisation
    • Identify and pursue partnerships with external stakeholders
  • 15. Future developments
    • Investigate the information needs of complex users
    • Continue to develop our information skills training provision
    • Support Scottish Government information professionals in their role as information skills educators
  • 16. Future developments cont’d
    • Measure and evaluate our success
    • Promote information literacy across
    • the public sector in Scotland
  • 17. Any questions?