New article published

The days and weeks pass so quickly by, and while I often think about blogging more, it is difficult to prioritise it. It keeps being bumped on my to-do list. The spring semester is always a little chaotic, and I´m already thinking that this year will be no exception.

However, one piece of news not too time consuming to blog about: my new research article has been published! Yay! I feel like celebrating this a little extra, because it has been the most difficult article I have yet written. I have written, and rewritten time and again, and I was on the verge of giving up when I finally got it accepted. This time, the process of writing articles really led me to think about my future as an author. I was frustrated at the seemingly endless rewrites, questioning my research skills, and at the same time still interested in what I wanted to say in my article. My heart pounded whenever I received feedback from the reviewers, the disappointment of every new revision, and the final relief to have it accepted.. this is too exhausting! … and yet.. I want to keep going. There must be something seriously wrong with me.. 🙂

If there is something I have learned this time round is that it is always better to plan ahead than to fix mistakes afterwords. Measure twice, cut once. It sounds so simple, but it is not always easy to anticipate the errors. I definitely see why phd students have a supervisor that can help them spot the problems before they occur. I wish I had one, even though I am not a phd student.

I think I´ll write a separate blog post about peer review, and trying to figure out what to do when the reviewers, not only disagree with each other, but directly contradict each other.

Anyway, my new article is about how first-year students in health sciences deal with information needs, and as it is an open access article, you can read it here:


Happy new year!

fireworks colourbox.comA new year has begun, and so far it has been pretty busy. Both work life and private life is filled with activities, great and small:) I have to admit that I was not very sorry to see 2017 go as it has been a year of many changes and (too) much to do. While I am sure that 2018 will have its own set of challenges I am happy to embark on a new year.

This year, I hope to be able to go to one of my favorite conferences, LILAC. I haven`t been there the last couple of years because the organizers generally tend to place the conference in the Easter week and we spoiled Norwegians have our vacations then:) But I am really excited about (probably) being able to attend this year. LILAC tend to leave me both busting with excitement and energy, ready to jump in and try some of all the fab tips I receive – and totally exhausted at the same time.

I also hope to be able to read a little more, both fiction and non-fiction, this year. I have a big pile of books waiting for me in the office, and I feel sad every time I have to renew them – still unread. 2017 was not a very good year for reading up on job-related things as things got pretty crazy from February and onward. With two people short and one of the staff members on duty being a substitute (she was a champ, though!), it was pretty tough to cope with the endless stream of new tasks to get started on. But now, our new manager is in place and a replacement for the retiree is coming soon – things are looking up!

I am often reminded of how many committed, clever and funny librarians there are when I check my twitter feed, read blogs or attend conferences, and fortunately, I work with many such people. Every day I get to spend my days with smart people who love their jobs. That is what I call being lucky!

Happy new year!


Placeholder ImageEarlier this fall I blogged about the roles of academic librarian, and I asked the question: are we academic partners or service providers? (Of course, it is possible to be both, but I wanted to vent my frustration that we never seem to escape the role as someone who gives access to documents and nothing else.) In the blog post I wrote about what rights and responsibilities we (could) have as academic partners, and I wrote that if I give substantial support to researchers, let`s say do all the relevant literature searches for a systematic review, then I expect to be granted co-authorship.

Last week, a professor in medical statistics, Stian Lydersen, expressed an opinion in Universitetsavisa (independent newspaper for NTNU) that while he was co-author of lots of articles, he was not prepared to take responsibility for all content in a paper. (He was talking about academic dishonesty.) He said that his field of expertise is medical statistics, and he was perfectly able to take responsibility for crunching the numbers and presenting them in the paper, but could not always be held responsible for other content in the articles, as some of them fell outside his area of expertise.

This week, two professors at Molde University College state that it is his duty to take responsibility for entire articles where he has co-authorship. These two professors cite the Vancouver guidelines, that clearly states that all authors should be sufficiently involved to be able to take responsibility. The professors continue to state that this is important, otherwise you could end up with research errors that nobody will claim responsibility for. Publication points [Norwegian system awarding publication points, and thereby money to institutions] should not be used as currency, the professors say.

Well, my comment is: it`s already used as currency, and there is little to be done about this as long as we continue with this system. Publication rate is used as background for career advancement, prestige for researchers and money for the institutions. If experts, such as Professor Lydersen, cannot get co-authorship without taking full responsibility for each publication, it presents a problem for all parts. It will be a problem for the experts who can no longer get credit for substantial contributions, and unless he can keep up his publication rate on his own articles within the medical statistics subject, can risk halting his career and damaging his institute. It is a problem for authors who wish to write about important issues within their fields, but no longer has access to experts as Lydersen to help them present statistics in this professional manner. It is also a problem for institutes because they have to find (and pay for) experts who are willing to work for money instead of co-authorships.

It`s probably pretty obvious where I am going with this. If I, in the previously mentioned example, perform database searches for researchers writing a systematic review, I am doing a significant and time-consuming part of the study. I would, in this case, be perfectly able to and willing to take responsibility for any criticism connected to this, for example strategies, wording, selection etc. I could not, however, be supposed to take responsibility for the content or analysis of the articles in the study. I still think I should be granted co-authorship because it would be a significant contribution and partly determine which articles would even be subjected to analysis in the first place.

Publication points are already used as currency. Either we should completely change the system or we cannot in all fairness decide to exclude experts in supporting fields.


Copyright videos

Today, I had a tip about a useful page on (UK) Copyright, Well, it is UK Copyright and I cannot therefore guarantee that everything on that page is valid in Norway (probably not), but still – it is interesting to see how Copyright issues are raised in other countries, too. has developed a support site for teachers and school-aged children, called The game is on. It`s a series of videos based on Sherlock Holmes, and with support sites for teachers when they discuss copyright issues. The videos are entertaining (even for adults og those of us who pretend to be adults) and are well worth a glance. Maybe there are some ideas there, even for college students and their teachers?



Some new research methodology books for librarians

review bøker bilde

My concentration is failing today, so instead of doing what I ought to do, namely reading some articles for my motivations study (oh, the irony), I am writing about some of the books I should have spent time on. It`s Friday afternoon, after all..

So, anyway..

Systematic reviews are popular with particularly the Institute for health sciences here at the university. So I thought I should really do one to gain a better understanding of the process and procedures to follow. One of the books I am looking into is a book called “Assembling the pieces of a systematic review: a guide for librarians” by Margaret J. Foster and Sarah T. Jewell (eds.). It is a very well-structured book with chapters covering everything step-by-step from what a systematic review is to summarising. The main points, such as asking good questions, designing a search strategy etc seems very well explained, and in orderly charts and tables, just as we librarians like it.

The next book I am going to dive into is “Systematic approaches to a successful literature review” (2nd ed.) by Andrew Booth, Anthea Sutton and Diana Papaioannou. This book is covering much of the same (of course), but does not look at it from a librarian`s point of view, but rather the scholars. It`ll be interesting to compare them.

The final book is one that I am embarrased to say have been on my desk for at least two months without being opened. It is not one of those books you read from A-Z, but rather a book to dive into when needed. It`s called: “Research methods in Library and Information Science” (6th ed) by Lynn S. Connaway and Marie L. Radford. I am particularly interested in the parts on grounded theory since I am looking into doing a study using that methodology, but I`ll certainly also be looking at their chapter on ethnographic approaces to qualitative data, which I find very interesting.

But before I really sink my teeth into any of these, I am going to have a weekend off, I think. Perhaps it will make me ready for articles on motivation on Monday morning. Have a nice weekend!


Seminar series at the library

sketchnotes bilde

Intro to Sketchnotes seminar

I haven`t been blogging for a while, partly due to the immense workload at the opening of the semester, and partly because I felt strongly about the last blog entry (about being an academic partner or a service provider) and I wanted to let it be the last on the blog roll for a while.

But now the time has come to say something about some activities in the library this autumn. Every now and then in previous years, we have hosted a series of seminars. The series has usually consisted of short seminars or workshops of 30-60 minutes and ranging in topics from useful tools for writing (ex. Google Drive and its like) and referencing (like EndNote) to databases and alternatives to Google. What we have experienced in the previous rounds is that people (both students and staff) are pragmatic with their time and efforts, and will only show up to sessions where they believe that they`ll have an immediate use for the contents. It is therefore much easier to get people to come to demonstration of useful tools, like EndNote and Colourbox, than broader terms like, Academic honesty and demonstration of databases.

When the library staff had our annual spring meeting to sum up the first semester, keep track of the year`s activities and follow-ups from the Christmas seminar, we decided on running a new series this autumn. We wanted to have more activities in the library and to host something that could show off the wide areas where the library have an interest. This autumn we decided to have a broader scope.

In September we were finally able to remove some empty journal shelves, and we suddenly had access to a very pretty white wall:) and we decided to buy a projector to be placed in the ceiling there. That meant that we, on occasion, could remove some of the tables in front of it and have our own little “seminar room” inside the library.

I had carte blanche when it came to topics in the seminar series, and it was nice to try to find something that could be fun and useful for our patrons. So far this autumn, we have had the following topics:

  • EndNote
  • Can Alzheimer be prevented? (by professor Øyvind Kirkevold)
  • Sketchnotes: visual notes for better memory
  • LaTeX: an introduction (by associate professor Simon McCallum)

Yet to come: Open Access Week (several seminars), Infographics and more..

It`s been really fun so far, and I hope that we`ll hit the mark with the coming seminars, too! It is always a little difficult to predict how many will show up, and at the LaTeX seminar we were running back and forth to find more chairs for the audience, while others have been less visited than at least I had expected. I do not think that we should only hold seminars where we “know” that a lot of people will show up. Sometimes success is not measured on the number of attendees, and if we want to have a wider scope, we must accept that not everything will have a high turnout. Still – it is fun when people show up. 🙂

Latex seminar simon

a crowd at the LaTeX seminar

simon mccallum latex seminar

Simon McCallum gave an introduction to LaTeX


Service provider or academic partner: Where to draw the line?

jente sandstrand

Drawing a line?

I have long wanted to write something about the contributions from academic librarians in research projects. First, I wanted to wait until the term was over because I wanted time to think about this, and then I waited because I wanted to find the right words. I wanted to get this right, because this is important to me. Today, I am writing this even though I could have thought some more or found better words.

I have worked in academic libraries for 15 years. During that time, I have changed and the libraries I have worked in has changed along with the institutions they have served. Perhaps even more interesting is that the role of the librarians have changed, too. A few lines of explanation is perhaps needed. (I`ll get to the point, I promise..) I said that I have changed. Yes, I have changed in many ways, but professionally the most significant change has been that I have changed my focus. When I started 15 years ago, my focus was always “Whats in it for my library”. I was very library centric. I wanted a good budget for the library because I wanted freedom to build a good collection, nice furniture etc. (I was a school librarian back then, btw.) After working in a school library, in a ministry library and in a university library, my focus has shifted. I still want the library to have a good budget, but not for the librarys sake – for the patrons. I want a good budget so that we can provide services and academic support to enhance learning and research. I think I have also learned the value of evidence-based practice in libraries. It is important that we have solid research as well as user experience and our own experience and bring this together to build good library practice. It may not seem as a very significant change on paper (or blog), but for me it has changed the way I work. The libraries have changed, too. From being mainly a document provider and a more distant partner (delivery-on-demand) for students, the digitalisation and research support needs have made it possible and necessary to provide new services and to see our roles in a new light.

There are plenty of articles, book chapters etc. that discuss the roles of academic librarians. I am not going to list everything that I have, but see my article on library-faculty collaboration to get an idea (Øvern, 2014). The main point I want to make here and now, though, is that library-faculty collaboration is often problematic because of the skewed power relation between the parties. The librarians know that the route to the students goes via their teachers, and we are desperate to find a way in to the classrooms. Therefore, we usually not only obey our masters` first whistle, but even assume almost doglike admiration for the teachers that see our contributions as something worth “sacrificing valuable class time” (yes, that is a direct quote, but I`ll not give the source) for. (OK. Maybe I exaggerated a little, but then again, maybe I didn`t.) It doesn`t help that we are so trained as service providers, that we find it extremely hard to just say no to people. This way, I think we also often are stuck in unproductive “collaborations”, because we are afraid that if we protest or suggest very different models for teaching, the teachers will stop asking us to contribute all together. But if we never suggest what to us may seem as better ideas, then they will never see our potential as real academic partners either. Librarians generally know more about the faculty than vice versa, an assymetry that both groups are aware of, but only the librarians find problematic (Christiansen, Strombler & Thaxton, 2004, p.117). And as Ekstrand and Seebass (2009) found: librarians are regarded as excellent (service) parners, but that is not the same as seeing them as valuable academic parners (p. 84). Librarians are not integrated in study programmes and often forgotten in planning sessions.

These power relations become even more problematic when it comes to research support. I have several times been asked to help with literature searching etc. in research projects. Once or twice only, have I been told that I will get co-authorship for my efforts. Once or twice. Of course, I wouldn`t dream of demanding co-authorship if my only contribution to the project would be something like suggesting appropriate databases or handing over some search terms that could useful or something like that. But where do I draw the line? When does it become acceptable for me to say, I can do that, but only if I am listed as a co-author?

This is an example (not from reality, but quite close):
Two faculty members, one of whom were also connected to another university, asked me if I could provide support for them for a systematic review. When I asked what kind of support they were looking for it was clear that it is more than just suggesting search strings and doing a few introductory searches in some databases. It was much more than that. Basically, they wanted me to set up tables, do the searches and use a flow chart. In a systematic review, the design of searches, and getting it right in all the databases as well as putting it into tables and flowcharts represents a lot of work. It would be like building the foundation of a house. Yet, I was not offered co-authorship. I asked them a few more questions on their deadlines etc., but before I had received answers and decided to muster up the strength to ask for co-authorship, they informed me that they had found another librarian (from the other university) to do the job.

It seems there is always somebody who is ready to answer when they hear the whistle. Why it was so important for me to get co-authorship? The contribution would have been the same whether my name was on it or not. Yes, but if I could have had my name on it, then I could have sacrificed the very little R&D time I have to my disposal without having to postpone my qualifications programme. If I am to succeed with this, then the little time I have to produce some new knowledge will have to be put to good use. Egotistic? Sure. But for the faculty involved it wouldn`t have mattered as much to share that research point (Norwegian measurement system), but for me it was important. Again – the power relations are not balanced.

So – what should I do? What should WE as a profession do? Is it ok that faculty get a “yes” from somebody else if they get a “no” from me? When should I say no? When should I demand co-authorship? Why is there no guideline for these partnerships?

Where do I draw the line? (Seriously, I`m asking.)

NOTE: This blog entry was not written to, in any way, suggest that faculty is in the habit of exploiting librarians or are trying to belittle me or my contribution. This is not my experience. I have many working collaborations with excellent faculty members that are productive, constructive and interesting. Even in the example I mentioned above, I don`t think that this was done by malice or as an attempt to put me in my place, but rather as a pragmatic way to get the help they wanted as quickly and efficiently as possible. This blog entry was written to emphasise the sometimes problematic situations that arises from the skewed power relations between faculty and librarians, and I have no other agenda than to share my experience with this, and to hope for better guidelines. It is not my intention to offend either faculty or librarians, and I hope therefore that any lack of clarity of thought or words will be forgiven.


Christiansen, L., Stombler, M., & Thaxton, L. (2004). A Report on Librarian-Faculty Relations from a Sociological Perspective. The journal of academic librarianship, 30(2), 116-121. doi:DOI: 10.1016/j.acalib.2004.01.003

Ekstrand, B., Seebass, G. (2009). Integrativ informationskompetens: DiskursĂśverbryggande samarbete mellan akademi och bibliotek. In B. Hansson, A. Lyngfeldt (Ed.), Pedagogiskt arbete i teori och praktik (pp. 83-101). Lund: BTJ FĂśrlag.

Øvern, K. M. (2014). Faculty-library collaboration: two pedagogical approaches. Journal of Information Literacy, 8(2), 36-55. doi:http://dx.doi.org


VIRAK 2017: Day 2 parallell sessions

[Other VIRAK posts: Day 1 panel & keynote, day 1 parallell sessions and day 2: keynote]

Right after Tara Brabazon`s keynote, I had to go to my own parallell session, so I only had time for a quick “hello” to her.


Programme: Day 2

Parallell session: “E-veiledning” [e-tutorials]

Astrid Kilvik at the Medical Library in Trondheim, Monica Marchant from the library in Ålesund and I have been working on a resource for nursing students at our three campuses. We have built a collection of examples regarding the bachelor`s thesis and literature review techniques. Astrid and I presented the resource, and had a live demo where the participants could see what it looked like. (I have included some screenshots to make up for the live demo in this presentation: Presentasjon VIRAK-pdf ) I`ll probably write more about this later, but we got a lot of questions after our presentation, and it was great to see that people were so interested.

Gunnhild Austheim (West University College) had the second presentation in our parallell session. She had experimented with something called “Guide on the side”. She had observed something similar at a university in the US. At University of Arizona Libraries they had developed an open source software that allowed the librarians to build help pages that would pop up when patrons were using the databases. At Western Norway University of applied sciences, Austrheim built something similar, based on the one from Arizona. She had help from Magnus Enger at Libriotech to develop the plattform to fit the solution. The product was not completely finished, and Austrheim explained how they were working with the content.

During this presentation, I was thinking about how useful something like this could be, but I also thought about how important it is to make something that is short, concise, and to the point. In almost everything that librarians (yes, I know I am being a little unfair here) build, we always want it to include everything. Just look at many of the libguides and other information pages that we have seen through the years. We always want to give the full picture, and to be so thorough that they (meaning users) cannot find any faults. I am thinking about all the times I have given students WAY too much information, just because I wanted to cover everything in one go. It is an art to give them what they need exactly when they need it when it comes to services online. I think such a “Guide on the side” idea is great! – if we build something that gives the students the small snippets they need when they need it, and if we resist the urge to cover everything. I think we all need to think about good examples, images etc. and less text based instruction overall.

Parallell session: “Formidling” [communication]

This was a session with several PechaKucha (PK) presentations from ongoing or recently completed projects. It is a good format (PKs) when presenting short summaries from projects. I heard my colleagues from the NTNU Oppgaveskriving/VIKO project present our project: what it is and how we did it.

I also heard Sunniva Evjen from HIOA talk about how she had used a kind of modified PK for library students, and how they felt about using that format. It was interesting to see that the students weighted different things before and after the project. They found that it is important for librarians/library students to be better at presentation and communication of results, but also to get to the point quickly. PK was therefore an interesting tool/method to achieve this.

Parallell session: “Akademisk skriving” [academic writing]

Ingerid Straume`s presentation was called “The use and misuse of pedagogic theory”. She talked about how emerging writing centres use elements from information literacy and academic literacies, and it is interesting for libraries to see how these fields can be “merged”. The traditional roles for the library was connected to acquiring literature and displaying it/ communicating about it. But more and more emphasis is now on academic support for patrons, and our role in learning development. This should be taken into account when we also talk about our role in writing centres.

As the libraries are growing out of their traditional roles and the library profession is increasingly being professionalised as its own field of research, the need for theorising is increasing.

The production of theory, within academia, is a way of getting legitimacy, and it is important for librarians to contribute to create theory. However, not all pedagogic theory can be directly transferred to something tangible in practice, but it is still important to create it. Having a wider spectre of theoretical knowledge can widen the horizon and make conversations about libraries much more interesting.

Greek and Jonsmoen talked about the writing centre at HIOA. They said that few teachers want to invest time to increase their students` writing skills. HIOA have organised many “one-shot” writing classes, but the students are not exactly showing up by the dusin. The faculties want simple solutions, but it does not work. They need to invest time, know about their own weaknesses (e.g. lacking knowledge in referencing styles etc.), be able to do follow-ups and so on.

Nobody want to take responsibility for academic writing. “The students already know how to do it” is often heard. Maybe teachers often lack some of these skills themselves? Students find it hard to understand the demands and to understand the “lingo”. They receive lots of written assignments, but most of them need help to develop their skills. They do not just pick it up “by osmosis” [as I think McGuinness put it]. Many teachers see developing writing skills as something extra they have to take care of, not something students need in order to learn.

So – who has the knowledge about texts and text standards, enough to help the students? Textual knowledge is part of the overall subjects, and it can only be developed there.

There are so many different participants in academic writing that it is difficult to coordinate efforts and to create a bigger picture. Writing centres, libraries, teachers, tutors/TAs.. the list is long, and we make it difficult for the students to get the big picture. Students come with a background, and we have to find a way to further develop the knowledge they already have.

I have had the pleasure of hearing Jonsmoen before, and I have used at least a few of their papers before. Although I had heard some of these points before, it was still interesting to hear them talk about their own roles as part of the writing centre at HIOA, and very interesting to hear them take a critical look at their practice. I can warmly recommend these articles by these authors:

Greek, M. og Jonsmoen, K. M. (2013) Skriveveiledning til økt fag- og tekstforstüelse, Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift, 97 ER(04-05). Tilgjengelig fra:

Jonsmoen, K. M. og Greek, M. (2012) «HODET BLIR TUNGT – OG TOMT» – om det å skrive seg til profesjonsutøvelse, Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift, (01). Tilgjengelig fra:

Jonsmoen, K. M. og Greek, M. (2016) Lecturers’ text competencies and guidance towards academic literacy, Educational Action Research, s. 1-16.

Parallell session: “Informasjonskompetanse” [information literacy]

Librarians from BI Norwegian Business school presented their project, that has now become a regular thing at two campuses, “KildebrukBar”. The translation doesn`t really make much sense, but it is a play on words: Kildebruk= using sources and Bar= Bar, but bar is also an ending, like “ful” (useful).

Anyway: the librarians had put up a real bar, with fruit and (nonacoholic, of course) drinks complete with drink umbrellas, outside the library. They would help students with their sources and citing/referencing. There was no booking, just drop-in. The students could get help with citation styles, what information to include, what to do with particular sources that did not fit the examples in the style etc. The librarians would not proof read any bibliographies, but they would point out a few where information was missing and so on. The librarians felt that they often started there, but ended up discussing the bigger issues, like whether or not sources were of high quality etc.

The librarians said that timing and marketing was everything here, but provided that the students knew about the event and that it was timed right so that many students were writing at the time of KildebrukBar, the students showed up, and there were often long lines at the bar.

Interestingly, the number of students that visit KildebrukBar is now falling a little or is stabilising, but the circulation/reference desks receive these kinds of questions more evenly throughout the semester now.

Anita Nordsteien from University College of South-East Norway presented a paper about nursing students` information literacy. She had analysed 194 bachelor`s theses to find out how they used information. Nordsteien had worked with faculty staff to implement a new model of teaching information skills to nursing students, and she had performed the analysis afterwords, to see if there was any improvement.

The model included many interventions, and the nursing students received a lot of training in these skills, where most was tool-based and quite traditional. The analysis showed that the nursing students had improved.

It was two very busy days, and I had less time to network than I would have liked, but it was a good conference, and I enjoyed myself. It is a relief to see that there are so many projects going on in Norway, and it is always a pleasure to meet Norwegian librarians who are dedicated and engaged in their work. For me, there were particularly two events that will stick with me for a long time: the panel on day one and Tara Brabazon`s keynote on day two. There were many other good presentations, too, and I had fun, but I think these two events will be remembered best by me.

The next VIRAK conference will be held at Agder University in 2019.


VIRAK 2017: Day 2 Keynote

[Day 1 blog posts: panel&keynote + parallell sessions]

IMG_6608As previously stated, I hardly ever have great expectations to keynotes, but I had the great pleasure of hearing Tara Brabazon at a keynote for LILAC (my favourite conference!), and I have been in awe ever since. I have used some of her books, too, particularly “The university of Google”. I highly recommend it. I have also followed her vlogs for PhD candidates, and there is something in there for everyone – not just PhD students.

So – in this case I had very high expectations, and I was not disappointed. Recording from the keynote is available here. Brabazon has mastered the art of combining form and content, she always has something interesting to say, and she does it like a rockstar. You cannot help but pay attention. 🙂 So anyway – these are some notes from the keynote:

Keynote: Tara Brabazon “Why I don`t “do” digital literacies”

“Let`s think about the worst users of digitization”, Brabazon said. Governing via Twitter (Tweet from Trump), dumping boyfriend via text message (slide showing text exchange) and posting pictures on revenge porn sites, for instance. Do these actions come from poor digital literacy “or are they caused by foolishness, ignorance and self-absorption?”, she asked rhetorically with a smile.

Brabazon wanted to bring back some old ideas and old media in her keynote, and encouraged us to recycle some of them.

She started with talking about Harold Innis, a Canadian, who became interested in communication systems. He talked about “bias” in communication systems. The term “bias” was not used politically, but as a synonym for “emphasis”. Bias of communication for him was about emphasising particular modes of thinking. The medium has its own modes. Innis was interested in how space-based media (visual) and time based media (auditive) could be combined. We know that most of our current media favours the eye – they are very visually oriented. Brabazon thought Innis would have been worried by the Internet, but interested in podcasts as a way of integrating the auditive in the visual. We need a better balance between time and space.

Media literacy is a term used too connect media studies, cultural studies and educational studies, but there has been little emphasis on how formal education help develop media literacy. There is an assumtion, said Brabazon, that we learn from the media by simply using it..

Brabazon continued with an olden-goldie: Jean Baudrillard. His book Simulacra and Simulation “plays with knowledge”, Brabazon said. Baudrillard presented three levels of “reality”: Real – Represented – Simulacrum. When an event or action takes place, it almost immediately disconnects from its context, and is represented and then re-represented (simulacrum). We are therefore not living in reality, but in other people`s representation. We spend more and more time in the Simulacrum, Brabazon said, and used The Kardashians as an example.


Simulacrum and Simulation – slide from keynote

The Internet provides easy access to quick information, but the interpretation is up to us. Underfunding of libraries, librarians, education and teachers have real consequences, and we are seeing them unfold every day.

Mary Macken-Horarik`s information literacy model was the next up in Brabazons keynote. Macken-Horariks model shows four categories of literacy, and there is a flow between “everyday”, “applied”, “theoretical” and “reflexive”. We move between the categories, but to be able to do that we need interventions from librarians or teachers.  “How do we know what we do not know?” We need help to move up, so that we dont get stuck in the “applied” category.  Another of Macken-Horarik kay points was that students cannot learn to read and critique what they read at the same time. Something has to be learned before it can be critiqued. Macken-Horarik doesn`t really address how we get people to move between these categories, and Brabazon asked “How do we create the capacity to move between literacy models?”.


Mary Macken-Horarik`s literacy model – slide from keynote

Brabazon gave us an example. In 2008 she was teaching a class where the students had such diverse backgrounds (language, geography, age) that she could not assume that they had a common understanding of literacy, and she had to get them “up to speed” in a single module. She decided to make them do an annotated bibliography with a variety of different sources. They had to include at least one podcast, one advertisement, two scholarly monographs etc. This can be a very useful tool to combine content and form, Brabazon said. Content in context.

Skjermbilde 2017-06-16 kl. 14.28.35

part of Brabazon`s slide – from recording


We have to make a matrix of information literacy and media literacy. We have to make them come together, because they will not do it by themselves. “There are incredible opportunities that all of us can front in this new information environment”, Brabazon said. Print-on-demand publishing, podcasts, and online journals.

Digitization can create citizenship, but you need broadband, money and information literacy. You need all three, because access does not provide knowledge, access does not provide literacy. “It`s never been easier to move information between platforms, but just because it is possible, doesn`t mean that it should”.

Teaching and learning is not meant to make a profit. And how do you decide what platform to use? When do you send a text message, when do you tweet, when do you make a call?

Multimodality combines pieces of information literacy and media literacy. Brabazon has made a model to illustrate the relationship between them. (I don`t have a copy of it, but I hope that her slides will be available at the VIRAK 2017 website some time soon.) Multimodality is one of the most important concepts in this age.  Social media and online communities can easily become echo chambers where we follow and like only people who have the same views and opinions as ourselves, and we become shocked when we suddenly encounter people with different world views than ourselves. Engaging ourselves with other groups and media has an effect in “correcting” our world views.

There is an “anti-research” tendency in society now, and people are suspicious towards academics. We need to use visual means in addition to the traditional to reach out to the population outside higher education. Images have a power to persuade.

Digital natives was wrong in 2001, and it is completely ridiculous to think now that younger people have other literacies, said Brabazon. I couldn`t agree more.

Multimodality is something that should be introduced for first-year students, as a foundation to learn course content and skills. But this also means that teachers need a solid pedagogic background as well as the subject specific knowledge they have.

It was a keynote that encouraged further reading on the theories that were “revived”, and a keynote that inspired to think more thoroughly on how we can help students think more deeply on their digital presence and critical thinking. I got a real boost, too, and I can`t wait to hear more from Brabazon later. I highly recommend her vlogs on YouTube (Vlog 1) as well as her books. I have only used “The University of Google”, as I said, but I also want to have a look at some of the others.


VIRAK 2017: Day 1 – parallell sessions


From the panel debate earlier in the day

[Previous posts on VIRAK 2017: warm-up + Day 1: panel&keynote]

After lunch, it was time for parallell sessions. There were SO many to choose from. The VIRAK committee received over 90 contributions, and with only two days to get everything in.. there were seven parallells: five workshops and two project/paper presentations. I went to number seven: project/paper presentations on teaching (“Undervisning”). There were three presentations in this session.

Anne Brit Løland (BI Norwegian Business School, campus Stavanger)(Best practice presentation):

Løland started by saying that collaboration between library and faculty has been known to enhance student learning, but that there is no “consensus” on how this collaboration should be done. Løland referred to a study by Junisbai, Lowe og Tagge (2016) to support this.

Løland talked about a project that she had in a strategy course at her campus. The teacher in the strategy course felt the need to focus more on referencing and getting the students to use better sources. The teacher reached out to Løland and they decided to team-teach a class. The teacher had a clear goal for the class in mind, and he knew what he wanted them to achieve. The teacher explained his goals to Løland, but did not focus on the details. That was left to Løland. They split the time in class between themselves. The teacher talked about the subject for the tasks, about methodology etc. and Løland had a traditional presentation on searching, applying principles of critical thinking on sources etc. After that the students worked in groups, and some of them presented their findings for the rest of the students. Løland used Padlet to communicate with the students. She and the teacher asked the students to explain their reasons for choosing the sources they had picked etc.

Løland said that one of the success factors behind this was that she is part of a small campus where the staff know each other, and where they know her well. She has lunch with faculty staff every day etc. This makes the threshold very low when it comes to approaching her with ideas on collaboration.

During Lølands presentation I kept thinking that while projects like these are a good way of getting a foot in the door with faculty staff, and to help students in the short run (I have certainly done many such projects), it is time to move this up a level. While the institutions do so little to thoroughly incorporate these kinds of skills in the course plans etc. the teaching of them will always appear rather random. It will only be done in courses where the librarians have a personal relation to the teachers. This way the asymmetry in power relations between librarian and teacher is also maintained. As librarians, we are completely at the mercy of teachers, and us almost begging to be let in the door only further cements this.

Idunn Bøyum, Eystein Gullbekk and Katriina BystrÜm: (Oslo and Akershus University College of applied sciences)(Research paper presentation):

BystrÜm presented a paper (soon to have a Norwegian edition, Bøyum told me on Twitter). The authors have made a model that shows the different levels of integration of the librarian. BystrÜm talked about the variations on how information literacy is perceived, from something generic and transferrable to something context-dependent. This also influences how librarians see their own role, and how it is perceived by faculty staff etc. The model is very interesting. It shows four different approaches to multidisciplinary information literacy. There are two axis: one for participation level and one for integration. This leaves you with the four different approaches: the technique, the problem, the coaching and the negotiation approaches. It`s difficult to explain here without showing the model itself, so I recommend reading the article itself.

The authors believe that the model could be useful in planning teaching activities and in developing librarians` competencies, as well as be used when discussing information literacy and integration with others. I share that opinion:)

PĂĽl Magnus Lykkja (University of Oslo) (Best Practice presentation):

Lykkja described how he had participated in a course on “Samfunnsgeografi” [societal geography], and how he had tried to integrate information skills. The course teachers had seen that students struggled to learn the “lingo” used in the course, and that they needed to do something to help the students recognise the different key concepts within this field.

The teachers had developed an open access text book, and tested more non-traditional teaching methods, like video lectures, flipped classroom etc. Lykkja had met the students in the library, and he took them to special collections and so on to help them get a more tangible sense of the different sources. He also led a workshop where students worked in groups on a particular assignment. It was quite traditional. The students were given research questions and had to build search strings, find literature and to find several (competing) perspectives on the research questions.

Lykkja found that it was difficult to find the right balance between “This is mandatory, and you`ll be graded on this task” and “This is optional, and you should do it because you`ll learn something useful”. He found that if students thought it was something they were being graded on, they became stressed and wouldt leave before it was “perfect”, and that they wouldn`t be bothered to show up for class if it was voluntary. He also said that time and timing was an issue. Two hours is a little too short to get the tasks done and to have meaningful discussions, but three hours is too long and it is work-intensive for the librarian.

This was what I got from the parallell sessions. I think it shows that there are many librarians in Norway who want to try things, who want to make a difference for students and staff, and who are dedicated to their work. It also shows, I think, that we are struggling with many of the same issues – being recognised by the institution, being integrated in course plans, collaboration with teachers, finding time and resources etc.

Day 1 of VIRAK was rounded off with Digital snippets and dinner at BI in Nydalen.