LILAC 2022 : Student transitions in information literacy :  from school to HE, from learners to researchers

Ruth Jenkins, SarahLouise McDonald and Christine Love-Rodgers at LILAC 2022

Ruth Jenkins, SarahLouise McDonald and Christine Love-Rodgers at LILAC 2022

The LILAC 2022 conference in Manchester this April was a challenge and a pleasure to attend :  my first real life, in person conference for two years! I put aside my laptop with the distraction of its constant stream of email to concentrate on being present in the conference and using my LILAC notebook and pen.

Alongside my colleagues, I was there to present papers about the projects we’d delivered in the COVID years, including LibSmart, our online information literacy course. We’ve developed LibSmart I to develop student information literacy skills to support student transition into the first years of an undergraduate course, and LibSmart II to support student transition into Honours and PG dissertation research. We had lots of great questions about the courses, and interest from Uppsala and Gothenberg Universities in Sweden who are keen to develop similar projects.

Student transitions in information literacy was a key theme of the conference. I attended a session by Paul Newnham on Information literacy and the transition to university education : Reflections and initial findings from Lancaster University. This research study aimed to understand student needs for information literacy and how the Library can support students with information literacy and critical thinking skills. Using qualitative data from groups in Blackpool Sixth Form College and Lancaster University, the study found that both lecturers and teachers thought that students’ ability to find information had deteriorated over the last 10-15 years. However there was wide understanding of the importance of referencing and plagiarism.

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Training with the ASL team

A laptop is placed, open, on a table in a living space. Next to the laptop is a notebook with pen on top. Visible on the laptop screen is the message 'Join us online'.

Image by Samantha Borges, from Unsplash.

A large part of the work that the Academic Support Librarian team complete relates to training and providing Information Skills guidance, whether that’s in our individual schools or sessions which are open to all. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll already know about LibSmart, our online information skills course, but did you also know about some of the other training on offer?

Have you heard about Library Bitesize? 

These short introductory sessions deal with a range of topics that we think will provide a good foundation in areas our students need to know about. They’re 30 minutes long and are run by ASLs and the Digital Skills team to help you get more information about skills and resources you might need to support your studying. While they’re aimed at beginner level and are particularly appropriate for Undergraduates, we think these are of use to students at any level of study. Just some of the topics include:

  • Building complex searches for systematic reviews
  • Choosing a reference manager
  • Finding historical documents online
  • How to reference and avoid plagiarism
  • Introduction to copyright
  • Introduction to resources for film studies
  • Introduction to China-related information resources

For more information on upcoming sessions and information on how to register, visit the Digital Skills Resource Finder and search for ‘Bitesize’, or view the upcoming sessions directly on the MyEd Event Booking System.

We also record these sessions and upload them to our Media Hopper channel. You can view a playlist of past sessions here.


What if you need more in-depth training?

If you’re looking for advanced training sessions, you may be interested in our collaboration with the Institute for Academic Development. Together we run longer sessions which are usually attended by postgraduate students, though undergraduates are welcome too! These are themed around research and referencing. For example:

We also run ‘Getting the best out of the library’ sessions for PGT and PGR students at the start of term, and are part of the IAD’s mid-semester welcome event for postgraduate students. For more information visit the IAD’s Postgraduate pages.


If training sessions don’t work for you, what about a one-to-one appointment? 

All our ASLs offer individual appointments to help students address specific questions about their work or research. A range of appointments are available via the MyEd Event Booking System – search for ‘literature search clinic’ to find available appointments with librarians from each college, or find the subject area specific to your needs.

Alternatively you can contact us directly by locating the ASL which works with your subject area. There’s more information about the one-to-one appointment system here.

We hope that with all these options for training available you will find something useful to support your studies. If we don’t offer a suitable session for your preferred learning style, why not get in touch with us to discuss?

LibSmart: Popular modules

By now we hope the name LibSmart is familiar to you. Whether you’ve seen a slide in a presentation from an Academic Support Librarian, a page on the display screens in the library, or you’re just an avid reader of this blog, we hope you know that our online information literacy course is up and running, ready for any staff or students at the University of Edinburgh to self-enrol via Learn.

You may also know that for every module you complete in LibSmart you receive a Digital Badge, issued to you by the ASL team via Badgr. We’ve been keeping an eye on the number of students enrolled and also the number of badges we’ve issued for each module, and we’re starting to see some trends emerge even though it’s still early in the academic year.

Image of all LibSmart Badges with text "Choose the modules relevant to you and earn digital badges to recognise your achievement!"

LibSmart badges

For LibSmart I, we’ve definitely seen the most badges issued for the first module Getting Started With The Library. This isn’t a great surprise as it is the first module and therefore a logical place for people to start. We’re also seeing great numbers in our Your Information Landscape module which helps students orientate themselves with the resources that are helpful for their subject area. We’ve also seen the most growth month-to-month in our Referencing and Plagiarism module, perhaps because we’re getting close to assessment time now and people are making sure they’re familiar with how to reference correctly for their assignments.

When it comes to LibSmart II, we’ve had a nice even spread of badges being awarded across all modules. The most popular so far has been Data mindfulness: finding and managing data for your dissertation, which shows a real appetite for assistance with dissertation and thesis work. This is great news as this is exactly what we hoped LibSmart II would do – help those at an advanced stage of study complete the big pieces of work! We’ve also got a three-way tie in second place for the Health Literature, Digital Images and Special Collections Fundamentals modules all having the same number of badges awarded. Because we assume these would appeal to students of quite different disciplines, it’s great to see the word is getting out to different schools!

Have you had a look to see what LibSmart can offer yet? Check the website for more information, or watch our self-enrol demonstration video to help you get started.

What is LibSmart II?

You may have read our recent article about LibSmart I, the foundation of our online information literacy course hosted on Learn. If you haven’t, check it out here.

Where LibSmart I provides a solid start in the library and information landscape, we think that LibSmart II offers a great next step for those a little further in their university career.

Picture of LibSmart digital badges in a wooden picture frame leaning against a wall

Earn digital badges for every module you complete in LibSmart I and II.

So what does LibSmart II offer? 

You can pick and mix from ten subject specific modules to develop knowledge of a wide range of digital resources. You can also learn specialised or advanced digital search techniques and develop the skills to manage your research literature and data effectively. We recommend you complete LibSmart I before moving on to LibSmart II, as you will build on the foundations developed in the first level of the course as you complete each of your chosen modules.

A brief overview of LibSmart II and its learning objectives 

The ten modules which are currently available to study are:

  • Business information
  • Data mindfulness: finding and managing data for your dissertation
  • Digital news sources
  • Digital primary sources and digital scholarship
  • Finding and using digital images
  • Government and Policy Research
  • Health information
  • Legal information
  • Special Collections fundamentals
  • Systematic reviews

We estimate each course will take a maximum of 3 hours to complete, and you can select as many or as few as you like. You’ll earn a digital badge for each module you complete to show off your new achievement!

LibSmart II banner

Ready to get started?

Visit the LibSmart webpage to find out more about how to self-enrol for this course.

If you have any questions or concerns about LibSmart you can contact us via the EdHelp portal.