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Workplace information literacy on the front line - Royle

Presented at LILAC 2019

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Workplace information literacy on the front line - Royle

  1. 1. Workplace Information Literacy on the frontline: an analysis of paraprofessional staff information practice and professional development in a UK academic library. Lucy Royle, King’s College London
  2. 2. Why workplace IL? Why paraprofessionals? • Frontline staff are at the coalface of IL education • 60.1% of LIS staff working in Higher Education (HE) do not have a Library, Archives, Records, Information and Knowledge Management (LARKIM) qualification • 42% do not have a postgraduate diploma or Master’s degree (CILIP, 2016) • Development of paraprofessionals is an under- researched area
  3. 3. Research aim • Contribute an enhanced understanding of the workplace information literacies and information practice of UK frontline academic library paraprofessional staff (FALPs!). • Why is this important? Paraprofessional frontline staff are the first point of contact for many users; it is vital that they develop their IL skills and knowledge and can communicate these effectively. Peanuts: 39065292800
  4. 4. Research methodology & method • Case study (Biggam, 2015; Pickard) • 5 semi-structured interviews • Purposive sampling - maximal variation • Braun & Clarke’s (2006; 2013) thematic analysis • Open & descriptive coding • Limitations included time, power dynamic, bias with-sesame-streets-louis-henry-mitchell-part-3/
  5. 5. Key findings – Communities of Practice ‘I’d take particular notice of some people that knew how to do a particular thing extensively or well […] It was more an observation of seeing people in situ that I’d pick up on.’ Participant A ‘I tend to learn by doing, because I remember what mistakes I make.’ Participant D ‘So it becomes often collaborative as well…we have the sort of team here where people are very comfortable asking each other questions, so it can be quite fun if you can’t work out how to do something.’ Participant C
  6. 6. Key findings – the role of trust in information- sharing relationships • ‘I felt like I had quite a unique relationship with each individual, most significantly within the local team. And I think that would be really built from ongoing communication, but also the learning and observation of people in their treatment of things in different contexts, in different enquiries.’ Participant A • ‘I would say peer-to-peer feedback is the most valuable though [in relation to feedback from a manager], and it’s a no-blame culture as well, which means that the way that you get feedback is constructive.’ Participant E
  7. 7. Key findings – IL skills knowledge gap ‘I’ve found that if I’m using databases or thinking about literature searching, I’ll just do it on the job, as it were, and fiddle around with something, and if I can’t work out how to do something, I’ll Google it, or ask someone! It’s a bit ad hoc really.’ Participant C ‘I Google things quite a lot, I have to admit that, and in fact most people do. It is quite embarrassing how often I use Google.’ Participant C ‘I’ll be like, “we’ll ask Google together”.’ Participant B
  8. 8. Next steps… Further research: Create a framework of how IL is experienced by FALP staff at different levels, inspired by the ‘7 themes of expanding awareness’ framework created by Forster (2015) and ‘On the Move’ tool created by Inskip & Donaldson (2018).
  9. 9. Next steps… Recommendations – culture & building relationships Create a friendly environment to foster team relations through: • Developing open-plan staff spaces to support team communication and bonding. • Use technology to bridge geographic gaps • Role-modelling helpful and approachable team behaviour.
  10. 10. Next steps… Recommendations – training & development • Embed training within a constructivist framework tailored to individual preferences • Provide active, authentic examples to facilitate the development of embodied knowledge • Develop a holistic understanding of the paraprofessional role.
  11. 11. Any questions? Peanuts:
  12. 12. Lucy Royle Library Frontline Delivery Manager King’s College London Email: Telephone: 020 7848 4855 Twitter: @royle_lucy
  13. 13. References Biggam, J. 2015. Succeeding with your master's dissertation: a step-by-step handbook [online]. 3rd ed. Berkshire, England: McGraw-Hill Education. Available from:,shib&db=nlebk&AN=939824&site=ehost- live&scope=site [Accessed 2 July 2018]. Braun, V. & Clarke, V. 2006. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology [online], 3 (2), pp.77–101. Available from: [Accessed 01 August 2018]. Braun, V. & Clarke, V. 2013. Successful qualitative research: a practical guide for beginners. London: SAGE. Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). 2016. Workforce Mapping. [online]. London: CILIP. Available from: mapping [Accessed 24 June 2018]. Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). 2018. ILG launch new CILIP information literacy definition. [online]. London: CILIP. Available from: definition/ [Accessed 17 June 2018]. Flick, U. 2014. An introduction to qualitative research. 5th ed. London: SAGE.
  14. 14. References cont. Forster, M. 2015. Six ways of experiencing information literacy in nursing: The findings of a phenomenographic study. Nurse Education Today [online], 35 (1), pp.195–200. Available from: [Accessed 12 May 2018]. Forster, M. 2017a. Information Literacy and the workplace: new concepts, new perspectives? In: M. Forster ed. Information literacy in the workplace. London: Facet Publishing, pp. 1-9. Hauxwell, H. 2008. Information literacy at the Service Desk: the role of circulations staff in promoting information literacy. Journal of Information Literacy [online], 2 (2), pp. 86-93. Inskip, C. & Donaldson, S. 2018. On the Move. [Online] UCL: London. Available from: list_conference_OTM-Inskip-Donaldson_WEB.pdf [Accessed 09 April 2018]. Lloyd, A. 2010. Information literacy landscapes: information literacy in education, workplace and everyday contexts. Oxford: Chandos. Patton, M. 2002. Qualitative research and evaluation methods. 3rd ed. London: Sage. Pickard, A. 2007. Research methods in information. London: Facet. Wenger, E. 1998. Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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    Feb. 8, 2020

Presented at LILAC 2019


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