Visiting LSE – part 2

The LSE library

The LSE library

LSE Library

LSE library

As I said in part 1 – last week I visited London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) where I met a set of dedicated and interesting people who all had something to share.

I was at LSE to hear more about what they do to teach information skills, and about ANCIL (“A new curriculum for information literacy”). Dr Jane Secker talked about ANCIL and how they spent time discussing what information literacy (IL) is and what they should call it. This didn`t surprise me at all. As I think I have said before on this blog – in my mind there is no real way of finding out what IL is, because there is no “it”. Some see it as a set of generic skills and others see it as a process to do with lifelong learning, and some say information literacy to describe finding and evaluating research results. Jane told me that in the beginning of their work with ANCIL, they had discussed the focus of information literacy, and what it should contain. Some had a very narrow view of this, and thought it was mostly about technology (and perhaps wanted to call it “digital literacy”), while others thought of it as a more holistic approach to finding and evaluating information. ANCIL is described at their blog and in more detail in Jane Secker and Emma Coonan`s new book, “Rethinking information literacy”. In short, the authors have made a model of 10 so-called “strands” (transition to higher education, becoming an independent learner, academic literacies, mapping the information landscape, resource discovery in your discipline, managing information, ethical dimension of information, presenting and communicating, synthesis and knowledge creation, and social dimension of information). The strands all start with the learner at the core and go through key skills, subject context, advanced information-handling and learning to learn. It`s an interesting model, and I look forward to reading more about each strand in the new book.

One of the things I found very interesting is how the LSE library is working to support the researchers. I had a very interesting talk with Natalia Madjarevic on how the LSE institutional repository works, her work on bibliometrics and the library`s new pilot project (to come) on data management for researchers. This is something of great importance, and I hope that they publish something on it later. How do researchers store their data? In the cloud? On their laptops? What happens to the raw data? I should ask about this here at GUC, too. Maybe we need to think about setting up a better solution for safe storage of data, or at least talk about it to our researchers to make sure that they have thought about how they manage their data sets?

Natalia also told me about how they have started using Summon as their library catalogue (for end-users), and how they have started teaching Summon to undergraduates, in stead of trying to get them to search all the various databases separate. This discussion on discovery tools is interesting – on the one hand those who say that teaching the students how to use a discovery tool is easier, they get better, more relevant results, and the librarians can spend more time on the more specialised search “needs”, and on the other hand there are those who say that discovery tools are just a fad, and that adding a layer is doing nothing for the students (and that Google Scholar does it better for free anyway..). LSE has bought Summon for a year and is now testing it.

Another thing Natalia talked about that I found interesting, was the way the LSE library works with bibliometrics. The librarians are sometimes asked to perform analysis, and they use Publish or perish for this. Analysis could include finding out how many citations an LSE researcher have gotten compared to other researchers in the same field, for example. This takes time and effort, but it is interesting for the school to compare themselves to similar institutions. The LSE library also have training sessions on bibliometrics for researchers. Hmmm… something to think about..

More from my visit to LSE to come in part 3.. (long days – I have plenty of notes:)

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