Dubrovnik's famous cave bar

Relaxing on the last night

Last week the work of LTI and the Library’s Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy (SADL) project reached a truly international audience when I presented with Maria Bell  at the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL) in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The conference brought together delegates from Europe and beyond (59 countries were represented) to share research and practice in supporting information literacy was attended by teachers, lecturers, librarians and researchers in the field.

Some of you may be more familiar with the term digital literacy but essentially information literacy is helping people find, evaluate, manage and communicate information in all its forms (not just digital) and while technology plays a role in how many of us interact with information, we were urged by one of the conference keynotes, Michael B Eisenberg, not to focus on technology too much as it will change! Information literacy is recognised by UNESCO as being a foundation for lifelong learning and for democracy and they also see it as a human right. We heard about information literacy in the townships of South Africa, its role in health education (where many of us can find something online about their latest ailment!) and in the recent Scottish referendum, where people were swamped with information from both sides of the campaign but perhaps lacked the critical abilities to make sense of it.

The work we’ve been doing in the last year with undergraduate students at LSE, to understand their digital and information literacy needs and to explore the role of ambassadors as peer mentors, was well received. You can see our presentation here but Maria and I also wrote a full paper for the conference proceedings. Our session was also live blogged by Sheila Webber from University of Sheffield who has reported extensively on the conference.

It’s an exciting time for SADL as we’ve expanded the project this year to 4 LSE departments and next week get to meet our 37 new ambassadors. We also have 4 student ambassadors from last year helping to deliver the workshops. Maria and I returned feeling proud to be part of such a energetic international community. We made many new friends and enjoyed the warm Croatian sunshine and hospitality. For me it’s vital that staff and students develop their information literacy abilities, whether to help them in their studies or in their daily lives. What we are learning from SADL and what last year’s students told us suggests it is a small contribution to the global effort, but something that potentially can make a huge impact as LSE graduates go out into the wider world.