He asserts that information literacy instruction, which Wilder defines as “a rigorous program of instruction in research skills, provided wholly or in part by librarians,” is harmful.
The idea behind information literacy is that our typical freshman is drowning in information, when in fact Google provides her with material she finds good enough, and does so instantaneously. Information literacy assumes that she accepts unquestioningly the information she finds on the Internet, when we know from research that she is a skeptic who filters her results to the best of her ability. Information literacy tells us that she cannot recognize when she needs information, nor can she find, analyze, or use it, when she demonstrably does all of those things perfectly well, albeit at a relatively unsophisticated level. Simply put, information literacy perceives a problem that does not exist.
The point of this being that technology ideally just works and you don’t need to understand it. I have utmost respect for Arthur C Clarke and there are technologies that exist now I could only dream of as a kid – I was an avid fan of making radio shows, videos, creating stories – I dread to think what sort of digital footprint I would have created if I had been born 20 years later!
However, magic is great, but one of the biggest problems we have is people don’t understand technology or care enough about how it works.
Interestingly ACC also told us that if a teacher can be replaced by a computer then they should be
So in an era of fake news, misinformation, manipulated stats, I want to ask if we can talk about truth – is there a truth or facts out there or in fact are very many things presented to us from a certain perspective. We need to learn to develop the ability to be discerning.
I’m a historian originally and so for me, I look for evidence, I weigh up a story, I think about bias and I have been trained to do this from my perspective
So I come here to tell you some things, but I want to hear from you first, you tell me – what role do systems librarians play in supporting learning? If you’re not a systems librarian tell me what role you think you play in supporting learning.
I’ve also been told I have to mention metadata this morning – so if anyone wants to answer this with that word that’s fine! I worked on my first research project in 1996 funded by Jisc and Lorcan Dempsey first said the words metadata and Dublin Core to me, so I know these things matter!
Lack of ‘training’ / skills / literacies Lazy habits - following the path of least resistance – lecturers will believe this – students given lots of reading, becoming lazy, spoon fed. Impatience A good enough mentality – finding something better than finding the right thing – in many cases the first thing we find may well be good enough Over reliance on search engines and how they work in other areas of our lives
So I have thought about IL for quite a long time and why it’s important, how to support IL and develop it in students and others. And of course why it matters. I wouldn’t be chair of the IL group if I didn’t think it matters.
It’s relevant to everone’s lives
Making informed choices in elections and referendums Fake News and Alternative Facts
And here is why technology and you guys matter – you make information accessible and discoverable and that is IL .
This slide is a curtain – I call it the librarians velvet curtain. We spend a LOT of time concealing the complexity of information, in our bid to make it manageable, discoverable, more accessible.
We build authentication systems so many of our users get seamless access to our resources. I am not saying we want to make it complicated – but by concealing the complexity we sometimes don’t help ourselves.
Our resources don’t get used if our systems are too complex
Kantar infringement tracker
The role of well designing systems
Nudging people to do the ‘right’ things - so making it really easy to find legitimate content, not making them jump through multiple authentication systems to get to the subscription resources, designing systems to be open and also point to free resources .
Technology is NOT neutral – we need to think about our systems – what they find, what they don’t find.
Has anyway read this book? It came out in January this year. She’s been doing the rounds at various US conferences.
Those helpful Google suggestions, of what you might like, what it thnks you want to see – we all have learnt a lot about the concept of the filter bubble. Be aware of this.
Hinrichsen and Coombs make a similar issue – they point out that technology is not neutral – it’s created by humans – it’s not necessarily a force for good, but its not a slippery slope towards AI and the world of a sci-fi movie either. It is what we do with it.
They also argue that a functional skills based approach of IT literacy, leads to digital literacy being taught outside the curriculum, rather than taught as part of academic practices and that “broader literacy practices are not going to emerge spontaneously as a result of technology proliferation’ (Hinrichsen and Coombs, 2013, p.4)
But we need people to understand how to use technology critically – tech will not save save us It might enable us, but it might also stop us doing many of the things we have a right to do.
We need to be careful not to alienatie academic staff who may not perceive themselves to be fully digitally literate.
Teaching Information and Copyright Literacy: the role of librarians
Literacy: the role of
Dr Jane Secker
Chair of CILIP Information Literacy Group,
Senior Lecturer, City, University of London
@jsecker @ukcopyrightlit @infolitgroup
What am I talking about?
The role of
The role of
Stanley Wilder, a US librarian suggested:
“Information Literacy Makes All the
Meanwhile in 1962…..
Arthur C. Clarke told us ….
Any sufficiently advanced technology
technology is indistinguishable from
The truth is out there
Maybe…. just who’s truth and from what perspective?
What is the role of
1. Grab your phone
2. Go to www.menti.com
3. Enter the code 97 97 77 and vote!
Information Literacy is……
“…the ability to think critically and make
balanced judgements about any
information we find and use. It empowers
us as citizens to develop informed views
and to engage fully with society.”
and Everyday Life
• Checking information online
• Online transactions
• Behave ethically online
• Use of Social media
• Awareness of your digital
footprint and privacy
• How to understand the
world around us
• Recognise bias and
misinformation in the
media, in politics
• Tackle ‘Fake news’
• Develop critical judgement
• All stages of education
• School, Further Education and
• Critical thinking skills
• Transition from school to FE
/ HE and the workplace
• Equips learners with
and the Workplace
• The value of information to
help achieve organizational
aims and add value
• Interpret work related
• Contributes to employability
• Problem solving and analytical
• Finding reliable sources of
health information for patients
• Helping make informed
choices about healthcare
• Working with HLG and Health
Education England on
campaigns such as “A million
decisions” and the Health
What I’ve learnt from studying
• Frameworks: ANCIL research
• Global issue: ACRL Global perspectives
• Need for evidence: Research bursaries,
Project Information Literacy
What I’ve learnt from teaching
• It’s complex and dangerous to make assumptions about
what people know
• Many teachers and academics do care but don’t
understand how to foster these abilities in students
• Concealing complexity helps users but is problematic
• We need ways to expose information structures and
• Understanding what causes it
• Ideological objections
• For some it’s to do with not wanting to pay
• For many it’s to do with the ease of getting access
to content when there might not be a legitimate
Copyright literacy is……
“acquiring and demonstrating the
appropriate knowledge, skills and
behaviours to enable the ethical creation
and use of copyright material.”
Secker and Morrison, 2016, p.211
What I’ve learnt from studying copyright
• Copyright is frustrating, confusing and a professional
• Some librarians want to help, some want to run away
because they worry about risk
• Information professionals feel caught in the middle and
morally conflicted because of their role providing people
with access to information.
• This is a key library issue
“Excited - like the idea
that copyright is a
gateway. Should enable
access to culture, rather
“Warm and Fuzzy”
“Love it! It's kept
me in the lifestyle
to which I have
confused. Can I
risk it? Can my
thrower) of a
What can we do?
What can the information
profession do about this?
What can the information
profession do about this?
• Legal systems: e.g. Digital Single Market
• Technology: e.g. Content ID
• Cultural and communicative practices
I’m grateful to Chris Morrison for many
conversations about ideas expressed in this
keynote. Further information is available on our
All Images are CC-0 from Unsplash.com apart
from Slide 2, 26, 27, 28 which includes images
and logos under Section 32 of the Copyright
Designs and Patents Act (illustration for
instruction) and Slide 29 which includes open clip
CILIP Definition of Information Literacy (2018) Available at: https://infolit.org.uk/ILdefinitionCILIP2018.pdf
Clarke, Arthur C. (1962) 'Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination' in the collection Profiles of the
Future: An Enquiry into the Limits of the Possible (1962, rev. 1973), pp. 14, 21, 36.
Hinrichsen, J., & Coombs, A. (2014). The five resources of critical digital literacy: a framework for curriculum
integration. Research in Learning Technology, 21.
Morrison, C and Secker J. (2015) Copyright Literacy in the UK: a survey of librarians and other cultural heritage
sector professionals. Library and Information Research. 39 (121)
Morrison, C & Secker, J. (2017). Understanding librarians’ experiences of copyright: findings from a
phenomenographic study of UK information professionals. Library Management, 38 (6/7)
Noble, Safiya (2018) Algorithms of Oppression: how search engines reinforce racism. New York University
Wilder, Stanley (2005, January). Information Literacy Makes all the Wrong Assumptions. Chronicle of Higher
Education. Available at: https://www.chronicle.com/article/Information-Literacy-Makes-All/21377