Information Literacy and Inclusion

By Ojala, Marydee | Information Today, December 2016 | Go to article overview

Information Literacy and Inclusion


Ojala, Marydee, Information Today


The fourth European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL; ecil2016.ilconf .org), which was held in Prague Oct. 10-13, drew 287 people from 51 countries. It included workshops, short presentations on best practices, a PechaKucha session, posters, and 97 formal papers. Although the conference bills itself as European, that moniker is more about the venue than the attendees, who represent a variety of countries. More came from the U.S., for example, than from the Czech Republic. Also well-represented were the U.K., Norway, and Finland. ECIL's theme for 2016 was Information Literacy in the Inclusive Society.

A Necessity for Democratic Societies

On the event's first day, Tara Brabazon (from Flinders University in Australia) delivered an energetic keynote address. She began by saying that information literacy is the most important topic of our time, because if we get it wrong, democracy is at risk. Her new model is the "3D librarian": "Digitization" transforms how we think about information; "deterritoralization" describes how media platforms disconnect us from the physical world and reconstitutes us as an imaged online community; and "disintermediation" causes librarians to become invisible. She thinks librarians must get control of reintermediation, return expertise to education, and shape the three D's for an inclusive society. She fervently stressed that OA publishing is vital.

For the second day's keynote, Jan A.G.M. van Dijk (from the University of Twente in the Netherlands) discussed the digital skills he thinks are necessary for everyone in the 21st century. In his lab, he asks people to answer specific questions online, such as how to replace a lost passport, and observes how they go about searching to find the answer. Operational tasks are done well, but strategic searching is not. Digital media makes tasks easier because they're more accessible, but it also makes them harder because of information overload. He sounded a rather dismal note when he said that his students read abstracts rather than full papers and watch videos instead of reading books. Calling Brabazon's keynote "a pep talk to people on the Titanic," van Dijk cited his failure to convince his students to go to the library.

Ola Pilerot (from the University of Boras in Sweden) described his toolbox approach to researching, understanding, and teaching information literacy. He views information literacy as being integrated into everyday life; it's not just the province of librarians. …

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