Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Jessica Elmore receives Mark Hepworth memorial award #i3RGU

Jessica Elmore, whose PhD I co-supervise with Dr Peter Stordy at the Information School, University of Sheffield, was today the recipient of the inaugural Mark Hepworth Memorial Award. She received it for the best abstract submitted to the i3 conference. The award is in memory of Professor Mark Hepworth (1955-2016) who was a valued information behaviour researcher and educator. Jess is shown here with i3 Chair Professor Peter Reid and Professor Graham Matthews, from Loughborough University, where Mark was a faculty member.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Job search information behaviours #i3rgu

I continue liveblogging from the i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen. The second talk this afternoon that I've attended was authored by John Mowbray, Professor Hazel Hall, Professor Robert Raeside and Dr Peter Robertson (presented by Mowbray, based on his PhD work): Job search information behaviours: an ego-net study of networking and social media use amongst young jobseekers. This research was sponsored by the ESRC, and Mowbray was also exploring issues with Skills Development Scotland. He started with some statistics e.g. 61% people use social media during job search; 31% find jobs through people they know.
Previous research has suggested that it is important (for job searching) to have strong social networks, and tap into wider "weak" social ties too. Social capital is also an issue: developing social capital, and using those in your network who have social capital. Mowbray said there was a gap in terms of rigourous studies of job searching network. Mowbray's research questions were concerned with: what are the key offline networking behaviours employed by young jobseekers during the job search process, and how do social media tools engage with those behaviours.
This presentation focused on the initial, qualitative, stage of the research. There were 7 interviewees (17-24 years, 2 females, based in various locations in Scotland) Tom Wilson's 1981 information seeking behaviour model was used as a framework for the interviews (so gathering data on the person in context, barriers to job seeking, and on actual information seeking). Ego-net data was gathered by a "name generator approach" (asking them literally to name the people/organisations that had given them help; then asking questions about the help given). This was analysed using content analysis and also quantified to create ego-net visuals.
Mowbray then gave more findings relating to specific interviewees. "Ross" wanted an internship in the software industry, he did job search daily. His network included family (Mum and Dad), friends, tutors, classmates and various connections to gaming contacts either via games forums or via Twitter. This included forums hosted by companies that Ross wanted to work with: there was sometimes information about the skills needed in games developers posted in these forums and Ross could be active in the forum. Ross got 4 types of information: on practical skills needed; industry and job roles; contacts and leads and job opportunities.
A second interviewee "Steve" was doing less frequent job serach, with a much smaller network, and he was a less active networker (the information was being pushed to him, rather than him seeking it). There was passive information seeking, notably coming across job related information on Facebook. There was also a lot less information being acquired about skills, job roles and job opportunities.
The barriers to job search were typically: social (not knowing people to ask etc.), intrapersonal barriers (e.g. not thinking about using social media); situational barriers (e.g. lack of access to the internet). Conclusions at the moment include: situational context directing networking behaviours, and therefore "social capital accessed is largely ascribed in nature (e.g. family contacts)". It was also notable how "sporadic and unplanned" the information behaviour was (it being opportunistic etc.) Where social media WAS used it could have "potentially profound information impact" and could "provide access to higher level of (informational) social capital".
Photos by Sheila Webber: Mowbray presenting "Ross"

Exploring Youth Information-Seeking Behaviour @netchildren #i3rgu

I'm liveblogging from the i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen. The first session this afternoon was authored by Dr Leanne Bowler, Professor Heidi Julien and Dr Leslie Haddon (presented by Bowler and Julien): Exploring Youth Information-Seeking Behaviour and Mobile Technologies Through a Secondary Analysis of Qualitative Data: Methodological Approaches.
They were exploring methodological issues to do with using secondary data, and implications for information behaviour research. They were reusing data gathered for the project
They started by defining secondary analysis: i.e. that it is data collected for another project and being reused to address different research questions. There is increasing interest in making more use of data collected with public money etc., so there is more pressure to share data, and growth of repositories.
The data set they were using was funded 2011-2014, and was a sister project to UK Kids Online (which I've blogged about before). The goal of Net Children Go Mobile, was not exploring information behaviour, but rather issues of online risk. The qualitative data, which was used for the project covered in this presentation, is not openly available online, but was made available after the researchers had asked whether it could be reused (permission of the EU project partners had to be sought).
They had 24 transcripts of interviews and focus groups with 34 children. (Also there were transcripts from 5 parents and 17 youth workers etc., not related to this presentation).
In this reanalysis they were seeking evidence of information behaviour, in order to understand how mobile technologies may be changing the way that young people seek and use. They used an inductive approach: two aspects they focused on were evidence of new aspects of info seeking; evidence of confirmation of existing info seeking models.
They found that the data did support some existing models of information seeking online e.g. that speed of access was important to young people; that there was an intersection between social media and information seeking, as shown in previous studies (with info seeking not seen as a separate activity, but part of using social media). In terms of technology affordances in relation to information seeking: there was notable co-searching. For example, information seeking could be a family activity. Serious information seeking was not usually done on a small-screen mobile device, but on larger devices such as laptops and PCs. Visual media (e.g. videos) were used for information. Also, the data plan used by the young person shaped data use and therefore information use. The speaker noted that this raised social equity issues (i.e. for those who couldn't afford aplan with lots of data). Finally "attitudes towards information credibility focused on security issues" e.g. if the site didn't have malware of viruses, they might trust the actual information on the website.
Then the speakers moved on to the challenges of data reuse. It was essential to ensure that ethical permission for re-use has already been granted. The reliability and reputation of the new researchers also should be investigated. It is important that there is a correspondance between the data set and the new research questions (and it may be necessary to explore the data before it is evident what ARE valid research questions that can be answered by the data).
Then there are challenges - or frustrations - to do with the protocols (e.g. wishing they had reworded a question a little; not being able to probe questions with participants). The separation between researchers and participants, which is not usual for qualititative research, means that the research and its participants is more difficult to contextualise. In this situation, there was not a huge gulf between the situation in the country where the data was gathered and the country of those doing the analysis, but it would be more problematic if the setting and population were more distant from those reusing the data.
The presentation was followed by some interesting comments and questions, including the ethical and access issues (concerned with re-use)
Photo by Sheila Webber: St Nicholar Kirkyard, Aberdeen, June 2017

Library TeachMeet in Plymouth

On 6 September 2017 there is a free Library TeachMeet in Plymouth. This event is organised by CILIP ARLG South West and CILIP South West Members Network. "This Teachmeet is an opportunity to boost your creativity just in time for the new term. It’s an informal flexible day led by the participants. Your input is invaluable! We’re looking to hear about your teaching experiences in any type of library or information setting. It could be a new teaching activity, or even an old one that really works well. Perhaps you’ve done some research or gathered some useful feedback about your teaching. Or you’ve started a new venture and have lessons to share." People can present in 15 minute sessions or 40 minute workshops, and there are also places for non-presenters. Register at
Photo by Sheila Webber: spot the cone, by the River Ness, June 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Our wicked problem: educating for digital literacy

Fortuitously, this evening an very interesting talk was given at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Since this is just an hour from Edinburgh, I travelled through to hear it after the seminar I attended at Napier University in Edinburgh. Professor Heidi Julien gave an invited talk on Our wicked problem: educating for digital literacy. She started by identifying that digital literacy wasn’t the “solvable” problem that some claimed. Julien then went on to talk about some of the issues associated with fake news: e.g. the extent to which right or left wing media might have more false news. She saw the fake news phenomenon (and associated filter bubbles) as “the making of a crisis for democracy, for good governance, for health and wellbeing” .
Julien identified the increasing resistence to experts by various constituencies (dismissing them as elites, biased etc.): she recommended Nichols (2017) book, The death of expertise: the campaign against established knowledge and why it matters. She encouraged people to engage: be active, expressing views publically, educating government representatives, and advocating for digital literacy.
Julien mentioned the #librariestransform campaign, #librariesresist, posters etc. created by the Association, IFLA etc. and various guides such as She identified challenges to digital literacy education including that people may overestimate their digital literacy skills, that information practices are complex, information seeking is a dynamic process, that people favour habitual practices and convenient solutions. She also noted that "people are irrational" e.g. that we tend to persevere with an opinion once it is formed, so there is confirmation bias. In particular "resistance to changing our beliefs is especially strong when those beliefs are central to our identity". he mentioned the "backfire effect" - that people confronted with evidence contrary to their beliefs might be even more strongly convinced of their own belief in reation. There were numerous other challenges to digital literacy - for example, that social conformity affected decision making (so if extreme views are the norm, there is pressure to adopt them).
Julien proposed that it is necessary for educators to engage with the issues in classrtoom discussion, and teach people to teach digital literacy - including teaching library and information professionals. She listed various essentials (such as being taught about learning theory, online learning, assessement - I will just put in an advertisement here for the Information Literacy module I teach at Sheffield University iSchool which includes learning about teaching and covers some of this ;-)
There was an interesting discussion afterwards that touched on topics such as: librarians and neutrality; access and awareness; how filter bubbles may create an illusion of digital fluence (that because you can navigate your filter bubble well, you don't realise what you are missing and your lack of competence outside your bubble).
Thanks to the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at Strathclyde for organising this.

Connecting People Connecting Ideas and digital ways #CPCINapier

Today I’m at a seminar at Napier University, Scotland, organised by Professor Hazel Hall and Frances Ryan. It’s called Connecting People Connecting Ideas, and is focused on sharing ideas for research and identifying priorities.
Most of the day is about discussing the ideas, but it is starting with a talk from Simeon Yates, on Ways of being in a digital age. This is the title of an ESRC-funded research project (which I see included someone from University of Sheffield, which demonstrates again that academics don’t know what’s going on in their own university, or that academics keep their research to themselves (or both ;-). The project has produced a report, but the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council, a major funding body in the UK) is still mulling it over (it commissioned it in order to steer its research priorities), so he was just able to indicate some themes.
He started by going back to Marshall McLuhan, with the idea that we would become connected, and Yates showed graphs indicating the growth in the numbers of communication media from prehistory to the present (obviously, with huge growth recently). He talked about the need for (and challenge of) interdisciplinary work. For example, the power of bringing together artists with people in information science and medicine, to look at a medical issue from a new perspective. He also emphasised the constants of culture and human interaction (e.g. gender differences in how peopel interact via txt msg is certainly not just to do with technology).
One of the foci for the project was probing the naure of digital inequality. He emphasised that some things that are associated with age/generation are actually cohort factors (e.g. young people may consume more digital media, but they also consume all sorts of other media, and it could be more to do with older people generally consuming less media because they have other things to do in their lives). He showed some interesting cluster analysis using Ofcom data, which e.g. showed the correlation with social class.
Another project he mentioned as I'd hide you (in which performers with webcams went round cities and tried to spot each other with enagagement from the public online: Yates mentioned a moment when the social/digital divide emerged starkly when a performer went to a good spot to hide and there were homeless people using that "hiding place" as a place to stay. That was an encounter between the digitally superserved and underserved. Yates was also referring to an Ofcom research project/report I have mentioned before on this bloog, which showed that although people with less money were apparently online, their dependence on what they could do on a mobile phone limited their options (e.g. they needed a better computer to fill in job seeker forms) and also didn't develop some useful skills.
He also looked at the various studies (again including a Pew study that I think I blogged here) that showed that people with different poltical opinions consumed and shared different media, with not a huge overlap. Finally he showed evidence that, whilst previous industrial changes had created different types of jobs, technological change did actually seem to meaqn reduction in jobs.
Photo by Sheila Webber: view out the window from the seminar!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How can we all best use scientific evidence?

There was a lot of news coverage today of a report produced by the (UK) Academy of Medical Sciences, reporting on an inquiry into "how the generation, trustworthiness and communication of scientific evidence can be enhanced to strengthen its role in decisions by patients, carers, healthcare professionals and others about the benefits and harms of medicines." The key statistics that caught my attention were that "In a survey of 2,041 British adults, commissioned to inform the project, only about a third (37%) of the public said they trusted evidence from medical research, compared to approximately two-thirds (65%) who trusted the experiences of their friends and family." [extract from the summary report] I was trying to find more detail on this study on the AMS website, but have failed so far. Everyone seemed to be rather surprised by this finding, but in fact I think it chimes in with results of a good deal of Information Behaviour research which shows that people rely on advice from trusted personal sources.
The report focuses on making recommendations about how the evidence base could be improved and how the various stakeholders (including patients) could contribute to better health decisions. It includes (for example) messages for communicators "We believe researchers, research funders, universities and press officers should work together to help make sure that evidence about medicines is communicated accurately. We also believe that journalists should be aware of the potential impact on the public of the way they report health stories. Journalists could be better supported to report the results from research more accurately by clear markers – such as a traffic light system - on health press releases. Training for journalists and their editors could also help, and good practice guidelines for scientists, press officers and journalists should be drawn up or better followed where they already exist."
The website with reports, "case studies" (detailed examinations of examples including statins, and the MMR vaccine) and short videos is at
Photo by Sheila Webber: heron, Amsterdam, May 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

#ACRLFramework for Information Literacy Toolkit launched

The ACRL Framework Advisory Board (FAB) has launched of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Toolkit. It takes the form of a free LibGuide and is focused around four "modules": Finding Time to Engage the Framework, The Framework’s Structure, Foundations of the Framework, and Strategies for Using the Framework. They say that "A fifth module, Collaboration and Conversations with the Framework, is currently in development." Each of these sections has: Guided Reading Activity, Discussion Prompts, Activities, Key Concepts, Key Readings, and some also have Handouts. They say that "Librarians can use the ACRL Framework Toolkit resources in a variety of ways: for their individual professional development needs; to form a community of practice with their colleagues around the Framework and information literacy; and to develop workshops and professional development opportunities in their libraries and also for local, regional, and state-level events and conferences." Go to
Photo by Sheila Webber: bowl and jewellery, June 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Christine Bruce: Building information and learning experiences through partnerships

The AMICAL Consortium held its 2017 annual meeting and conference on 17–20 May at the American College of Thessaloniki, Greece with the theme of Centering on learning: Partnerships and professional development among librarians, faculty and technologists. There are videos and presentations available, and in particular I will highlight the keynote from Christine Bruce: Building information and learning experiences through partnerships (embedded below). Another talk very relevant to this blog was Interdisciplinarity, co-teaching, and information literacy from Elena Berg, Antonio Lopez, Linda Martz and Michael Stoepel
Links at

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Recent articles: STEM infolit; data literacy; digital literacy; information behaviour of farmers and beggars

(open access) Harris, S.Y. (2017). Undergraduates’ assessment of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) information literacy instruction. IFLA Journal, 43(2), 171-186. (this is a pdf of the whole issue)

(priced) articles from the Journal of Librarianship and Information science (volume 49, issue 1)
- Data literacy for researchers and data librarians by Tibor Koltay, pp. 3–14
- A study on the effect of digital literacy on information use behavior by Younghee Noh, pp. 26–56
- Information sources preference of poultry farmers in selected rural areas of Tanzania by Grace E.P. Msoffe, Patrick Ngulube, pp. 82–90
- An explanatory study into the information seeking-behaviour of Egyptian beggars by Essam Mansour, pp. 91–106
Photo by Sheila Webber: wild strawberries, June 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Backward Design for Information Literacy Instruction

A priced online course is: Backward Design for Information Literacy Instruction, a Library Juice Academy course taught by Andrea Baer. It runs July 3 2017- August 11th 2017 and the cost is US$250
"As librarians look increasingly to integrated models of information literacy (IL) instruction that reach far beyond the one-shot and the mechanics of searching, it is becoming ever more essential that we design instruction that foregrounds learning as an incremental and ongoing process. Backward design – which is an iterative process that begins with considering learning goals, then determining acceptable evidence of learning, and addressing those outcomes through sequenced activities - offers powerful ways to develop IL instruction that fosters critical thinking and habits of mind like inquisitiveness and reflection.
"In this 6-week course, participants will focus on three essential pieces of backward design – learning outcomes, assessment, and sequencing – and their applications for IL instruction. Throughout the course, students will dissect how these elements of backward design function in various activities and assignments, while simultaneously developing and refining their own activity, assignment, or lesson plan. Through weekly discussions and assignments, participants will reflect on course readings and instruction examples, share teaching experiences and ideas, and exchange constructive feedback on one another’s developing instruction plans."
More info at
Photo by Sheila Webber: sage flowers in the garden, June 2017

Friday, June 09, 2017

Hepworth Festschrift: Information behaviour/Literacy, HIV/AIDS, Dementia, Mobile phones

The latest issue of the Aslib Journal of Information Management (priced publication) is a Festschrift in honour of Professor Mark Hepworth, who died last in December 2016. As it says in the introduction to the issue he "for many years pushed forward the boundaries in studies of people’s information behaviour and their information experience" ". In his last post he was Chair in People’s Information Behaviour at Loughborough University, UK. There is an obituary here. The picture is one I took of him presenting at the i3 conference in 2013.
The issue includes an article based on part of the findings from one of my graduated PhD students, Kondwani Wella, and coauthored with me and Professor Phillipa Levy:
Wella, K., Webber, S. and Levy, P. (2017). Myths about HIV and AIDS among serodiscordant couples in Malawi. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69 (3),278 - 293.
The other articles are:
- Harland, J., Bath, P., Wainwright, A. and Seymour, J. (2017). Making sense of dementia: A phenomenographic study of the information behaviours of people diagnosed with dementia Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69 (3),261 - 277)
- Cibangu, S., Hepworth,M., and Champion, D. (2017) Mobile phones for development: An information case study of mobile phone kiosk vendors in the Congo Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69 (3),294 - 315.
- Kelechukwu Ibenne, S., Simeonova,B., Harrison, J and Hepworth M. An integrated model highlighting information literacy and knowledge formation in information behaviour Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69 (3), 316 - 334
- Foos, S., Majid, S. and Chang, Y.K. Assessing information literacy skills among young information age students in Singapore. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69 (3), 335 - 353
- Taylor, L. and Willett, P. (2017). Comparison of US and UK rankings of LIS journals. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69 (3), 354 - 367
Contents page at

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Webinar recordings: Community College/ infolit; living with the Framework

Recordings of two ACRL Student Learning Information Literacy Committee sponsored webinars are available:
- ACRL SLILC Framework for Information Literacy: A Community College Showcase (Recording from April 12, 2017: 3 panelists talk about how they are using the Framework):
- ACRL SLILC: Framework Freak-out: How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Live With the Framework (Recording of the June 1, 2017: talk by Meredith Farkas):
Photo by Sheila Webber: working in the park, Sheffield, June 2017

Two Paths Converge: Designing Educational Opportunities on the Intersections of Scholarly Communication and Information Literacy

There is an ACRL Roadshow taking place in the Albert B. Alkek Library at Texas State University, USA, on July 14, 2017: Two Paths Converge: Designing Educational Opportunities on the Intersections of Scholarly Communication and Information Literacy. "This is a full day workshop and attendees will gain a better understanding of the intersections of scholarly communication and information literacy and obtain the expertise to develop education and outreach initiatives that address the aspirations and needs of scholars, students, and researchers at their institutions." More info at

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

New #openaccess articles:@JInfoLit anniversary issue: information literacy theory, discipline, learning and more!

The tenth anniversary of the open access journal Journal of Information Literacy has been celebrated with a bumper issue (volume 11 issue 1) of articles by information literacy experts from around the world.
The articles can all be accessed from the contents page at
They are:
- Information literacy: conceptions, context and the formation of a discipline by Sheila Webber, Bill Johnston (this is my blog so I'm highlighting the article by me ;-)
- Information literacy and informed learning: conceptual innovations for IL research and practice futures by Christine Susan Bruce, Andrew Demasson, Hilary Hughes, Mandy Lupton, Elham Sayyad Abdi, Clarence Maybee, Mary M Somerville, Anita Mirijamdotter
- Crossing the threshold: reflective practice in information literacy development by Sheila Corrall
- Lessons from Forty Years as a Literacy Educator: An Information Literacy Narrative by James Elmborg
- The Warp and Weft of Information Literacy: Changing Contexts, Enduring Challenges by Barbara Fister
- Posing the million dollar question: What happens after graduation? by Alison J. Head
- Information literacy and literacies of information: a mid-range theory and model by Annemaree Lloyd
- How can you tell if it’s working? Recent developments in impact evaluation and their implications for information literacy practice by Sharon Markless, David Streatfield
- Information Literacy: Agendas for a Sustainable Future by Ross J. Todd
- Information literacy is a subversive activity: developing a research-based theory of information discernment by Geoff Walton
Photo by Sheila Webber: rose "Sheila", June 2017

Monday, June 05, 2017

Random sample video from @pewresearch #researchmethods

The Pew Research Center conducts good quality research into aspects of (US) American life, and I have highlighted numerous of their reports about Americans' use of the internet, social media etc. They seem to have started a series about research methods, and the first is a short (2 mins 25 second) video about random samples. Obviously they can't cram a complete description of sampling into under 3 minutes, but it is a nice introduction. When teaching research methods, I find that the fact that "random" can mean "any old thing" in ordinary language can prevent people from realising that random samples are definitely not composed of whatever sample happens to come along. The introduction and video are at and I have also embedded it below

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Qualifikationsprofil des Teaching Librarian

On the same theme as yesterday: from the German Library Conference tweets I picked up a link to:
Scholle, U. (2016). Qualifikationsprofil des Teaching Librarian: Positionspapier der Gemeinsamen Kommission Informationskompetenz von VDB und dbv. o-bib, 3(1). [in German] [open access]
This roughly translates to: qualification profile of a teaching librarian: position paper from the VDB and dbv's [German library/information associations] joint commission on information literacy. It is intended to address formal learning and continuing professional development. The tables at the end list subject knowledge and personal competencies that are seen as required. They propose differentiating the competencies, depending on the type of library and level of study (in information/library school: in Germany many qualifications still vary, I think, according to the library or information sector being targeted).
Photo by Sheila Webber: rhododendron, May 2017