Reading and thinking

I am having a rather unusual week this week. About five months ago I looked yet again at the rising pile of books and journal articles balancing on the edge of my desk in my office, and sighed because I never seem to get to really go into them. I decided to clear a week in November (generally a little less traffic in my office), to save up some of my dedicated research time, and to plan to read. And boy – have I read! My eyes are red, my fingers are numb with note-taking (I know, old-school). It has so far been wonderful to really dig in.

I almost always have to write to understand what I have read, and I write to organise my thoughts. Most of the blogging about the specific items I have sunk my teeth into will be written about on my Norwegian blog, but I thought I’d share something here, too.

These past years, I have been thinking a lot about standardising information literacy courses. I have thought a lot about pros and cons to these ideas, but I am interested in frameworks as maybe a good way to go. I have been digging into the ACLR Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education in particular, and I have been writing about it here and there for a couple of years. One of the criticisms toward this framework has been that it is difficult to understand, and much less concrete than the previous ACRL Standards that were widely used in the US. I have been having some difficulties, too. But as I have read more, I am starting to connect more dots.

I have been reading “The Intersection. Where evidence based nursing and information literacy meet” and “The no-nonsense guide to training in libraries” this week. Earlier this year I read more about Paulo Freire and his “Pedagogy of the oppressed”, a classic within critical pedagogy. I also read Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science, an excellent book, btw. If I am trying to connect some ideas together here, it becomes a bit of a pattern. “The Intersection” forced me to think more clearly about the overlap between evidence-based practice (EBP) and information literacy (IL). A big part of IL is to be able to get information and to know what to do with it. That is also a part of “Bad Science”. “The no-nonsense guide” gives you an idea on how to teach IL to a public that may or may not know much about IL, or even to be aware that they do not have enough skills in this field. In “The no-nonsense guide” I got a reminder to use different activities to aid the learning process of a spectre of students, and very practical tips on group work (for example). This goes well with Paulo Freire’s ideas on better power distribution to aid deep learning. And all of these ideas can be found in the ACRL Framework. In “Bad Science” and “The Intersection” I am reminded that authority is not enough to understand the quality of a work. This is a big part of the frame “Authority is constructed and contextual”. Including the student in group discussions is empasised in both “The no-nonsense guide”, “The Intersection” and in the frame “Scholarship as Conversation”.

Learning theories and the whole pedagogy field is a messy affair, with lots of theories pointing in different directions. I still love it.

Reference list:

Allan, B. (2013) The no-nonsense guide to training in libraries. London: Facet Publishing.

Association of College & Research Libraries (2015) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Available from:

Goldacre, B. (2008) Bad science. London: Fourth Estate.

Phelps, S. F., Hyde, L. og Wolf, J. P. (2018) The intersection : where evidence based nursing and information literacy meet. Cambridge, MA, United States: Chandos Publishing, an imprint of Elsevier.


The books I am attacking this week:)

Critical thinking: testing a new workshop








Earlier this year, I wrote about how I need to reboot my teaching efforts. I am not talking about a complete abandonment of my previous efforts, but just a newer and fresher look. I love teaching. Teaching students make me feel like I am part of their process, and however small my contribution is in the whole picture of their education, I feel like I was there. I love talking to students after sessions to hear what they understood, and the best part of it is that sometimes the students are able to connect the dots right there in front of you. It might not be a Eureka! kind of moment, but just a little insight that suddenly made something else clear for them. I will not deny that I sometimes come into classes where none of the students are interested, and I can’t seem to wake them up, or where everyone just stares in complete silence and refuse to engage with you. Most times, though, there are at least a few who choose to participate in discussions or at least ask some questions that allows you to clarify things and move things forward.

I have been teaching for at least 14 years. I have never used manuscripts, because I can’t make them work for me, but in the beginning I think I held very tightly on to my keywords and went through the information like I just pushed the “Play”-button on Spotify. The class started and “Play” and the lecture just came out of the speaker that was my mouth. Fortunately for me, I hardly ever get nervous, so I could do this pretty effortlessly, but of course it probably was of little or no use to the students to hear me babble on about Boolean logic etc.

In the years that have passed since I started teaching, I have tried to continuously improve my practice. Small changes here and there, assessment, new changes, assessment etc. I believe that it is important to evolve as a teacher even though I have taught for years. Every now and then, as I described earlier this year, I get an itch for change. If I don’t act on it, I feel disengaged and lose my motivation. It doesn’t have to be something big. Maybe just a couple of new activities or new assessment forms, or a new collaboration. Anything, really. It usually starts with reading some new journal articles or new books, or attending a conference.

When I came across DeBono’s “Six critical thinking hats”, I felt like trying this with students. I have long felt that we spend way too much time still on the classic one-shot instruction with “Click here, click here” sessions (database demonstrations). I wanted to include more on critical thinking. After reading an article (1) discussing the thinking hats I made a new session in form of a workshop. I found a newspaper article (in Norwegian) on care technology (like GPS, security alarms etc.) and made questions according to the six different hats that the students could answer in groups. I tested the session on my colleagues, and decided to cut quite a few of the questions to make it more suitable to do in one 45 minute session. Earlier this month, I found an article (about ageing and nursing homes) relevant for master students in nursing, and made new (but similar) questions to all  six hats. I gave the students 10 minutes to read this short article (approx. two pages), but most were done in six minutes or less. There were only eleven students present for this class, so in stead of doing it in groups as a workshop, we had an open discussion. It went really well! The students were happy to get a new framework for critical thinking, I was happy to engage with the students in their discussion, and it felt really fresh for me. I don’t expect this to work as well every time, but it felt great to try something new. The evaluation forms I got also suggested that students need more focus on critical thinking skills, and that they were happy to engage in a more active session, rather than a lecture format. Wohoo!

1. Kivunja C. Using de bono’s six thinking hats model to teach critical thinking and problem solving skills essential for success in the 21st century economy. Creative Education. 2015;6(03):380-91.

LOEX 2019: Motivating students

In this post, I’ll try to gather up what I learned about innovative teaching methods, pedagogy and other bits and bobs on how we use and convey our information litearcy content. See also my other posts from the LOEX Conference: LOEX 2019 and LOEX 2019: ACRL Framework.

Sarah E. Fancher, Ozarks Tech CC and Jamie L. Emery, Saint Louis University talked about the need to get the students to change their research behaviours. 78 to 84 percent of students use internet resources either exclusively or mostly when they research their papers – even after they have received some form of information literacy instruction. That means that our sessions are not very effective when it comes to changing behaviour.

I first came across Simon Sinek’s books in January this year, and I have just started reading his books, but I seem to come across his name everywhere. Sara Fancher also talked about his principle: “Start with why”. Fancher emphasised that we have to spend more time explaining to students why they they need to have better strategies when they do research for their papers. The end goal must be visible from the start. Fancher suggested that librarians should use more backwards design when they plan their sessions. Start with why, or lift the end goal – it makes it easier and better to get the session together. We start with the end goal and then map out how we plan to get there. (This was also discussed in one of the sessions of LILAC18. Interesting topic!)

Fancher and Emery talked about the Rational Actor Paradigm. If we want the students to change their behaviour, we have to change the incentives so that the students understand why they need to change. People act rationally and from self-interest.

When it comes to discussions on the value of libraries, Fancher and Emery found two different types of librarians: those who see the library as heaven – having an intrinsic value that must be obvious to everyone, and those who see the library as a useful resource – kind of like someone trying to make the students eat their greens. As experts, we (librarians) have a lot of information that is more or less tacit. It is difficult for us to realise that not everyone has the same knowledge. We have expert blind spots. It is important that we are aware of this.

Based on an article by Hinchcliffe, Rand and Collier (2018), Fancer and Emery named some common misconceptions on information literacy:

  • Students believe that everything can be found online
  • Students believe that everything is free
  • First-year students think they have to figure everything out on their own/ that they are not allowed to ask for help
  • Students believe that the library is for locating and checking out books and studying in silence
  • Students believe that everything in the library’s collection is credible
  • Students believe that they can get by with only freely available documents
  • Students believe that Google is enough

misconception on information literacy from Hinchclippe, Rand and Collier

When we start with how, and the mechanics, it is hard to find the time for the deeper meaning of information literacy. It is also very teacher-centered. It is easy to fall into this pitfall when faculty staff ask us to come and tell their students about the library. We spend a lot of time on technical skills when we teach, and we tend to present it like a linear procedure. How long does this stick with the students?

“What can motivate our students to learn?”, Emery and Fancher asked. They alluded to the ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction) model of motivational design, by Keller. We have to persuade the students that learning is in their best interest. We should focus on relevance. What do the students find interesting? What do we find interesting? In the overlap between these two are the relevance.

Emery and Fancher ask their students how large a percentage they estimate that they search via Google. Most students estimate between 80 and 100 percent. In reality Google search approximately four (4) percent. It students believe they can find everything on Google, why learn to use the trickier databases? They won’t. We need to get the message out that Google doesn’t cover everything.

Emery and Fancher recommended Steiner and Rigby (2019) ‘s book on motivating students. It is on my reading list..

In a session with Sheila Stoeckel and Alex Stark from University of Wisconsin – Madison (“Librarians as Threshold Guides: Blazing the Trail with Competency Based Micro-Courses”) I learned more about the usefulness of micro-courses. I decided on adding something from this session to the post on motivation because I felt that maybe this format can motivate students to learn more.

Stoeckel and Stark talked about how the ACRL Framework is modelled on the theory of threshold concepts. One of the problems here, Stoeckel and Stark said, is that many of us mainly do one-shot sessions with students. Over all, we spend little time with each student, and it is unlikely that the students will (notably) pass the threshold in class. (Note: Ray Land (2015) said in his keynote at LILAC15 that passing the thresholds rarely feels like a “eureka moment”, but that the changes in perception comes gradually.) It is important that we collaborate with teachers to help the students pass the thresholds.

graphic describing threshold concepts in ACRL Framework

Stoeckel and Stark explained how they had analysed curricula or lesson plans and found areas that could benefit from competency-based micro-courses to engage students in research. Micro-learning can happen in many different formats; podcasts, videos etc. It needs to be flexible and scalable. The courses that UW Madison made are open access, and they are available here.

Stoeckel and Stark emphasised the need for collaboration with the right campus partners (that can give insight in the real needs of students – do a needs analysis), the importance of delegating the responsibility for updating content and working with people who have access to students.

graphic of process development



Hinchcliffe, L. J., Rand, A. and Collier, J. (2018) Predictable Information Literacy Misconceptions of First-Year College Students, Communications in Information Literacy, 12(1), pp. 4-18.

Land, R. (2015) ‘There could be trouble ahead’. Threshold Concepts, Troublesome Knowledge and Information Literacy – a current debate. Unpublished paper presented at Librarians` Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC). Newcastle.

Steiner, S. K. and Rigby, M. (2019) Motivating students on a time budget : pedagogical frames and lesson plans for in-person and online information literacy instruction. Available at:


LOEX 2019: the ACRL Framework

In stead of doing my usual session-by-session recap, I thought I’d go for more of a theme-based summary this year. This means that I have not gone through each session on its own, but rather tossed everything I attended on one subject into the same pot. I hope this works.

In 2015, the Association of college and research libraries (ARCL) replaced Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (known as the Standards) with Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (known as the Framework). It would be fair to say that this move got mixed feedback, and it was still a hot topic in many of the sessions at LOEX 2019.

Seeing as we in Norway do not have a framework or standards for information literacy, it may be hard to understand just how important this shift was for our American allies, but I have tried to read up on the framework itself as well as the mixed feedback it got (and still gets). This is something that I am interested in, so I prioritised going to sessions that emphasised the framework. And there were many of them..

Just a quick intro to the framework for those who are not familiar with them. The framework consists of six different frames: Authority is constructed and contextual, Information creation as a process, Information has value, Research as inquiry, Scholarship as conversation, and Searching as Strategic Exploration. The frames have descriptions on behaviour and dispositions for an expert in the field. The basic principle behind the framework is threshold concepts. The standards were easy to use, the framework is more conceptual in nature.

Joanna Thielen and Amanda Nichols Hess from Oakland University talked about how they had used the Scholarship as conversation, Information has value and Information creation as a process frames to make a course on reading journal articles for students. Nobody on campus were teaching students how to read journal articles, Thielen said. It is an underlying premiss that they know how to do it. (I couldn’t agree more! Journal articles have their own genre conventions that needs to be taught.) Thielen hands out two articles (one from a magazine, and one from a scholarly journal) on the same subject, and ask the students to fill out a form, identifying which article is from what kind of journal, and the students have to compare and contrast the articles. They take a poll on how often they are asked by their professors to read and understand scholarly journal articles, and what they find the most difficult. Thielen goes through all the different parts of an article, and she shows the students how to read it (in what order). Thielen suggests the following order: Title, author, reference, abstract, introduction, conclusion, headlines and subheadings, figures and figure texts, method, results and discussion. She also teaches them how to look up difficult words and how to annotate them onto the article. Toward the end of the lecture, Thielen gives tips on how to focus and concentrate (getting rid of abstractions etc.) before she gives them a new poll asking what the students can do to be able to concentrate. The feedback Thielen has had from students suggest that they use the new information to improve their study habits. Amanda Nichols Hess talked about how she had made an online version of this campus course. The online course is self-paced and they can print their own course certificate. Oakland has several online courses, on plagiarism and referencing, transfer students etc.

Image from powerpoint presentation about scholarly journals

Glenn Koelling and Alyssa Russo from University of New Mexico talked about how they had created a mystery room, based on the escape room ideas (only – we are not trying to get them to escape..). Escape rooms are about solving riddles to get out of the room, the mystery room was about solving riddles and clues to teach students about types of information sources. “A book is not a format, it is a medium”, Koelling said. Students see a reference list with links as websites, but in reality it can be websites, journal articles, encyclopaedias etc. I have to admit that I have never thought about this. One of the tasks in the mystery room was to rewrite a text as a magazine article, a journal article etc. This was connected to the “Information creation as a process” frame in the framework.

Koelling and Russo showed us how they used a receipt from Starbucks as one information format. What is it? What is the purpose? Who created the information? What can it show us? I really think we should talk more about this when we teach. How information is created and what the purpose is could really be helpful before we start talking about searching for journal articles. I will definitely use this particular frame more in the future. Koelling and Russo’s talk showed how this frame can be used creatively.

The three P system: purpose, process, product. This can be used when we talk to students about information formats.

the intellectual and physical structure of a receipt

Koelling and Russo were inspired by Hofer, Hanick and Townsend’s (2019) new book.

Having written about information literacy for years, it was such a pleasure to be able to listen to some of the authors of texts I have referenced so often. I was almost a little starstruck to be in the same room as Don Latham and Melissa Gross. They gave a lecture on peritext analysis. Peritext is text and images that surround text, such as cover, tables of content, notes, introduction etc. Latham and Gross have made Peritextual Literacy Framwork (PLF) that works with the ACRL Framework. In their new book (Witte, Latham & Gross, 2019) the authors discuss how peritext is a literacy that could and should be used when we teach students information skills.

Latham and Gross had a handout that showed the interaction between the PLF and the ACRL Framework. An example of peritext: headings/subheadings, page numbers, hyperlinks and hot links. These are in the PLF listed under the Navigation category. They can be connected to the “Research as Inquiry” frame in the ACRL Framework. Gross and Latham (2017) also wrote about how peritext can be used to support critical thinking.

In the lecture that I attended they used mainly the “Authority is contextual and constructed” frame. There is so much information in various formats, eg. linked content, sound, animations, commersials etc. that we need to help the students see what this content is. Who made the content? Can we trust it? Who is it made for? – what does this do to authority?

Students find it hard to use the right information in the right context. We know that not all information can be used in all contexts, but we don’t really discuss this much with our students. All data is created in a context, and we need to talk more about this.


Gross, M.&D. Latham (2017) The peritextual literacy framework: Using the functions of peritext to support critical thinking. In: Library & Information Science Research, 39(2), p. 116-123.

Hofer, A., Hanick, S. L. & Townsend, L. (2019) Transforming Information literacy instruction : threshold concepts in theory and practice. Santa Barbara, Cal: Libraries Unlimited.

Witte, S.,  Latham, D. & Gross, M. (2019) Literacy Engagement Through Peritextual Analysis. Chicago: ALA Editions.


LOEX 2019

LOEX, originally Library Orientation Exchange (now just LOEX), is a non-profit organisation for information literacy and library instruction. They host an annual conference that moves around in the US. This year it took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I was lucky enough to get a seat at the table. I have wanted to attend LOEX for years, so I am really happy it all dovetailed this year. Thank you LOEX committee, Bibliotekarforbundet (Library Union) and most of all: Thanks to my library manager and good colleagues!

The reason I really wanted to go to LOEX was that it is a conference that is oriented around practice. The goal is to connect librarians and the good ideas and projects they have. While there is something to be said for conferences with a more philosophical approach, I wanted to go somewhere they give you tips and transferrable, concrete ideas – easy to take away and reconfigure for my workplace. And that is exactly what I got! I have been trying now to go through all my tweets and notes to get an overview of everything. I’ll be writing up my notes in the following posts here at this blog. More from the conference can also be found at and by searching Twitter with hashtag #loex2019.

loex logo

LILAC18: day 2, part 2

[I´m writing up my notes from LILAC18. See previous posts here, here and here.]

Mary Beth Sancomb-Moran: Flipping information literacy

Sancomb-Moran works at University of Minnesota Rochester. It is a small campus, and the library has few physical books. Almost everything is virtual. The library went from giving traditional information literacy classes to using flipped principles. The librarians have almost entirely been given positive feedback. Seeing as the students have to prepare for class, they are almost always get more out of the classes when they come. The librarians have made video tutorials that the students watch first. They also have to perform initial searches before class. The librarians collaborate with teachers to make good quizzes and assignments that are connected to the content in the videos.

The librarians have emphasise the iterative nature of searching and that it is ok to make mistakes. A lot of students get very frustrated when they search databases without getting the answer that they are looking for.

The librarians have worked with the Information Literacy assessment and advocacy project (ILAAP) where they have CC licensed content. They have made a quiz bank that is freely available. Sancomb-Moran has made a test with 18 questions of different character, f.ex. questions on plagiarism, referencing, search techniques etc.

The students performed quite well on the test. The librarians used the results to produce more videos and classroom materials. They did a post test, too.

Sancomb-Moran said that librarians have to be careful with their use of jargon. She had a good tip: when you talk about the difference between keywords and headings, take up a prop and ask the students to suggest search terms. This will form the basis of the keyword search. Then talk about the headings. [I have already tested this after I came back from the conference. Worked really well!]

Bart Lenart: Philosophy in the library

Lenart gave a very good session on the importance of starting early when it comes to development of intellectual and moral ideas. It is important, he said, to start with our children when we teach them to face the world with a critical set of eyes. Philosophy is an important and good way to teach them about all aspect of life. Some claim that children cannot understand and use philosophy, but many now see that they have underestimated children. Many children have deep thoughts about the world, life and science.

Humans are natural philosophers because we are fundamentally curious, Lenart said.

The attendees of this session got several assignments. The first one was to rate questions (on pieces of paper) from least to most philosophical. This can be a good assignment to teach students about which questions we can ask and how we think. [Harry Stottlemeier´s Discovery –  a philosophy book for children from 1974 by Lipman. Not very good, but interesting because it targeted children.]


Lenart talked about the Wartenberg method: In order for a question to be philosophical, it must be contestable (more than one possible answer), controversial (not everyone can agree) and answerable. 

Rules for (good) philosophical discussions:

  1. Say what you think, but you have to have a reason
  2. Agree or disagree
  3. Present a concrete example from the abstract that is up for discussion
  4. Present an opposite example for a statement or position
  5. Present a revised version of your original statement
  6. Add reasons for your statement.

Lenart read us a childrens story and then encouraged a discussion on the topic “What is bravery?”. It became an interesting discussion in our group (all the attendees were seated in groups). The conclusion to the question that most people agreed with was that bravery is the action, while courage is the innate quality you have to perform the brave act. And there is a difference between bravery and foolhardiness.

This short discussion was just meant as an example of how you can teach your students to think critically about information and to use philosophical questions in order to make them think deeper about things.

A possible assignments for higher education students could be to range and organise sources from less to more scholarly.

I really liked this session, but I wish I could have had some more examples that were easier to transfer to higher education.

Pam McKinney and Sheila Webber: Teaching the next generation of IL educators: reflections for learning

This session was about how the presenters have worked with active reflection for library and information science students. McKinney talked about reflective practice. It is a theory based on Entwistle (2004) – model of teaching and leaning environments. (Concept map influences on student learning.) McKinney and Webber are having a book published later this year (in the US).

The authors perform action research in the context of teaching and learning environments. The students have to reflect on how they learn, how they feel about information literacy etc. The educators are encouraged to think about the constructive alignment [Biggs] between teaching and learning activities and the assessment used.

This session by McKinney and Webber deserved more attention than I was able to give (sorry!), but it had been a very long day and the headache from the day before lingered, so.. anyway.. do check out the Information Literacy blog they write. Lots of helpful links and tips.

The conference dinner took place in the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, and if you think that sounds strange, with a conference dinner at a cathedral, you should have seen that place. It was huuuuuuge! A church with its own parking garage underneath- just saying. Lots of lovely people to chat to as always at LILAC.



LILAC18: day 2, part 1

[This is blog post #3 from LILAC18. See previous posts here and here]

Ola Pilerot: Putting theory to work in practice: unpacking information literacy with a conceptual toolbox from library and information science

Day 2 started with a keynote by Ola Pilerot. I was looking forward to this keynote, as Pilerot´s work is known to me. I have read much of his work and I think he has made many interesting contributions to discussions in our field.

Watch the keynote here:

Although Pilerot was somewhat less clear in his keynote than in his articles (not very remarkable), I thought he gave a good presentation and I was reminded why I like his work. The main idea was that we should make an effort to see the relationship between theory and practice in the field of information literacy (IL), and that we have much to gain from trying to promote understanding between the different actors within the field. If the researchers understand librarians, students.. and vice versa we could teach and learn better.

There are many ways to understand IL, Pilerot said. It can be understood as a field of research for librarians, as a political goal or motive, or something that can be observed – or as an analytical field. Therefore, we should be careful with a normative approach to IL, meaning that we either implicitly or explicitly express that there is a right way and a wrong way to be information literate.

Pilerot presented several interesting theoretical models of IL. Wilson (1999)´s model on information searching, information seeking and information behaviour was dwelt on. Kulthau´s model for the Information Search Process included the students´ emotional behaviour during each phase, and that was something new when it first was published. However, this model is linear, and most information searching is not. Forster´s model is non-linear, but difficult to understand, and Bates´ model from 2002 is interesting as it shows IL as portrays the different approaches as directed/undirected and active/passive.

I have used several of these models, but the last one he talked about is perhaps the one I have used the most, namely Sundin´s approaches to teaching IL.


Sundin´s model: Approaches to teaching for information literacy.


It is very interesting, and I recommend reading the entire article.

Pilerot did a comparative study* between nursing students and engineering students. The nursing students cited much more literature and used “better” sources than the engineering students. Pilerot had a look at the culture behind these disciplines, what research questions they asked etc. The students practically had their own communities of practice within their own disciplines. The engineering students did not lack information literacy, but they adapted themselves to expectations within the field. It is important to remember that IL shows itself in different contexts.

*[Pilerot, O. (in press) Swedish university students´ information literacy: a comparison of two academic disciplines]

Amanda Folk: Drawing on identity and prior knowledge to join the conversation in research assignments

Folk has found the “Scholarship is a conversation” frame of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education particularly useful for students. Not only does it emphasise and make clearer what the students are expected to do in research assignments, but it helps them understand the other frames in the framework. In this session we talked about what the Scholarship is a conversation frame can mean and how we can use it. Many good ideas on teaching about content in this frame were mentioned by attendees.

One attendee said that she used this frame to talk about referencing, and how the students should think of their work as a part of a greater discussion. One attendee said that she focussed on how something being published does not have to mean that students have to agree, and she used this as a point for discussion. One said that she usually starts by saying to students that before there were journals, researchers wrote letters to each other, and this was the main idea behind the journal publications. One attendee said that he usually talks to students about writing as a piece of a large puzzle. We need each others pieces to complete the image.

Folk continued to say that talking about social class and capital is still somewhat taboo in the US, so it has not been discussed much. What kind of cultural and social capital (Bourdieu) a student has is important for how they react in different situations. FOlk therefore made a point about it being important to know what kind of background our students have to be able to organise our materials and teaching. Academic alienation is a real thing, and we have to talk about it. The ACRL Framework gives us some new opportunities, Folk said, and we should practice it for these students. The Scholarship is conversation frame is a good entry level, and we have to get the students to understand that they are part of the discussion. 

Folk is doing her PhD on hermeneutic phenomenology – she is trying to understand how it feels to receive and perform a research assignment [and this made me think of Project Information Literacy and Alison Head].

Folk did qualitative interviews with students. Some showed intrinsic motivations and others had a need to understand themselves and their own situations to take active standpoints and transfer their knowledge. Minority students often have a higher socio-political awareness than their majority counterparts, and they have given more thought to what their cultural, political or religious means in their society. It is important for us to make them understand that this background and their knowledge about this can be used in the academic discussions.

We all have funds of knowledge, Folk said.

This was a good session, and I think we all left the lecture theatre wanting to understand more and to look into more of the ACRL Framework with this background.


LILAC18 : day 1, part 1

I always write up my notes and experiences from LILAC (almost) immediately after the conference. That way I can process everything while it´s fresh in my mind. This year, things happened and I haven´t been able to do it before now. I think, therefore, that the report will be somewhat more “cropped” this year. Still, I hope that the notes will be useful later, as I often go back to notes from previous conferences to refresh my memory.

So – this year´s LILAC took place in Liverpool. (I´ll refrain from elaboration on the travels to and from:)) As always, the programme was packed with interesting topics and great presenters. LILAC is my fav conference, and I have so far never been disappointed by the content they manage to combine over three days.

Teaching information literacy in an active learning classroom/ Veronica Alfredsson & Louise Bjur

The librarians felt like they couldn´t connect properly with the students and that they did not get enough feedback from the students. Furthermore, students often asked questions that had just been covered in the lecture. This led the librarians to wonder about knowledge retention.

The librarians changed the layout of the classroom. They organised the students into groups, and the students had to share whiteboards, blackboards, screens and flip-overs. This changed the students´ behaviour. When they came into the classroom and saw the layout, they assumed that they had to participate and talk to their peers. It also changed how the librarians were teaching. They found themselves walking around and interacting with students in new ways. In rooms with this kind of layout, it is difficult to give a lecture. It forces the teacher to assume a more active role and the students to interact with each other.

The librarians started doing backward design. In stead of figuring out what they wanted to teach, make a lesson and then teach it, they turned it around and thought: what do we want students to master, what do the students have to practice in order to achieve these skills, and what kind of information do they need to have in order to do the work? This forms the foundation of the lesson.

Example of activity: they handed out a newsarticle and asked questions about it. Who is the author, who is the article written for, does it cite other sources, and would you use it as a source for your paper? Then, step two would be: find the study that the news article was based on, how did the students search to get there? The students reported these steps on a whiteboard. Then they talked about the article (the one that forms the backdrop for the news article) and had a look at the structure (IMRAD) and other qualities.

Other activities included having access to physical documents and placing them along an arrow, from popular science to more scholarly content.

Yet another activity the librarians used was The Boolean game: they pretend that the room is a database. The instructor is searching the database. If the instructor say a word that you as a participant want to be associated with, you stand up. For example: “jeans” = too many stand up. “Jeans” AND “glasses”. Still not perfect. “Jeans” AND “glasses” OR “contact lenses”. And so on..

Reviewing the role of teaching librarians in supporting students digital capabilities/ M.Gscwanter.

Mr. Gscwanter, Canterbury Christ Church College, had his work descripttion changed. He was to teach “digital literacy”, and he tried to find a good way to integrate this into his lessons. He used JISC Digital Capabilities Framework: 6 elements of digital capacity.

Gscwanter did a literature review and some interviews to explore the “digital literacy” term, and how people define it. He found that most librarians relate to the term as “digital INFORMATION literacy” – like business as usual, only with digital elements. According to Mr. Gscwanter, librarians only work within the “Information, data and media literacies” (JISC) element. Is that ok?, he asked.

In a discussion at his university on whether they should use the term “digital literacy” or “information literacy”, “digital literacy” won, and the term is now used in all course descriptions for master students. “Digital literacy” seems more pragmatic for teachers, and therefore easier to understand – was the argument.

And to avoid that this blog post never ends – LILAC day 1, part 2 will follow…

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 tekstforståelse, 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 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 Byström: (Oslo and Akershus University College of applied sciences)(Research paper presentation):

Byström 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. Byström 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:)

Pål 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.