Contextual, Connected, and Comparative: Proposed Directions for Information Literacy Scholarship

[Introductory Note: I had the privilege of serving as the conference rapporteur for the ECIL 2018 Conference in Oulu, Finland.  It was an honor to be trusted by the conference organizers with this role. Onsite I spoke from an outline/notes. Many people asked me to provide a text of my remarks and so this is a post-delivery re-construction.]

ECIL is always a highlight conference. I extend my congratulations to the organizers on a successful conference. The labor involved is immense.  And, I am grateful not only to our organizers but the reviewers, editors, session chairs, etc. as well as the staff of our hotels and catering.  I also wish to recognize those in our personal and professional lives who contributed to our ability to be here by taking on our tasks and responsibilities, at least temporarily, and leaving us free to gather together for ECIL. Finally, to all of you who presented and/or engaged in formal and informal conversations, thank you. And, I beg your forgiveness and patience as I came in and out of your sessions in order to attempt to sample across the conference as broadly as possible in preparing these remarks.

In here welcoming remarks, Sonja reminded us of the theme of this conference – our focus on information literacy in everyday life. And, she exhorted us to meet each other and “EXCHANGE IDEAS!”

I think we have succeeded.

A concept that has shaped my own work as a librarian educator for the past decade is the notion of a community of practice. A community of practice is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly and reflects the fundamentally social nature of human learning.

Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger first articulated this concept in their book Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation, which Wenger then extended in his 1998 work Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity.

A few years ago I had the great privilege of being coached by Etienne and his partner Beverly Wenger-Trayner on design principles for fostering a community of practice. In that experience I came to understand the depth of this seemingly simple concept.

So, I’ll begin by observing how ECIL is maturing as a community of practice. There are clearly emerging roles, culture, methods, practices, rules, traditions, etc. For example, there will always be dancing!

ECIL has so far avoided the negative aspects that can develop in a community of practice, the setting up of barriers to keep people out.  I am proud to be a member of this community.

As I prepared these remarks, I found my thoughts and reflections telescoping in and out. I was inspired in part by the artwork in the hallway outside this room. If you haven’t yet noticed, take a look. At first you will see silhouettes of individuals and groups. But, come closer and the components come into focus. The images are made up of overlapping printed words – works like excitement, spirit, vitality, and imagination. So appropriate for this ECIL gathering!


As I reflected closely on this ECIL 2018 conference in particular, I noted that the methodological aspect of our investigations into information literacy research and practice is strengthening tremendously. I also noted the widening breadth of considerations, particularly highlighted and brought to the foreground by the theme of this conference.

I’ll personally be taking with me the taxonomy that was introduced in the keynote address by Frans Mäyrä: functional literacy, critical literacy, and creative literacy. This taxonomy is a lens through which we can consider many of the things spoken about at this conference.

I’m also pleased to note the increased attention to disadvantaged and oppressed peoples and their information literacy needs and practices. Many papers took as their starting point a focus on a particular group of people. This point is the core of what I would challenge us to pursue next in the collective deepening of our scholarship. I want to see us build from our stronger methodological base to more sophisticated analysis of the diversity within our populations.  I would challenge us to look carefully at the subpopulations within our studies and bring an intersectional lens to our work.

Similarly, I believe we need to improve our measures of the information environments that are the contexts of information literacy. Currently the information environment is typically treated as a constant and uniform variable even though we easily can see that it is not. We also cannot – and should not – assume a uniformity of experiences of the information environment within a given community.

We need to look not only at those populations that are socially identified as disadvantaged but also at those whose oppression exists within the larger context, hidden by systemic factors – those structural factors that blind us but which our research approaches could reveal. This leads me to my belief that in doing so we would find power in avoiding deficit models and theories of information literacy and instead using models of capabilities, capacities, and participatory inquiry methods. In sum, I am putting forth that we should adopt an epistemology of inclusion, equity, and social justice.

So, as I come to a close, let me share three words that I hope will guide our next stage of growth as this information literacy scholarship community of practice.

Contextual – We must understand information literacy in context. In doing so, we will recognize and reveal the heterogeneity of that context and thus of the variety of information literacy experiences and practices in our communities.

Connected – I’d like to consider this on multiple levels. First, at the individual level I think we need to connect information literacy across the various spheres of individual experience and across the lifespan. E.g., respectively, how does information literacy in the workplace connect with information literacy in the home or in civic life? And, what are the long-term implications of differential early experiences with information literacy or are there connections between life events and propensity toward lifelong information literacy practices?

Second, we should consider connections at the community or group level. What are the impacts of peers and social connections on information literacy skill development? Also, what is the collective impact of multiple information literacy organizations functioning in a particular community? How do these organizations create an information literacy network or social fabric for our communities? How does a collective of organizations function compared to that of a single organization? As a side note, I hope to see some of you in Kaunas, Lithuania in October for the UNESCO GAPMIL Conference, which has as its theme this year “media and information literate cities” and thus encourages this community lens perspective.

Comparative – Finally, I’d like to encourage us to move towards more comparative frameworks in our research studies. At the micro level, for example, detailed comparisons of instructional practices could help us develop more strategic information literacy interventions. We know that many practices are effective. What we need to ask now is not just is x-practice effective or is y-practice effective but is x-practice or y-practice more effective for what purpose in which settings? Likewise, at a more macro level, comparative city, country, or regional studies on information literacy policy, frameworks, and practices could help us understand the interplay between information and social policy and legal regimes and options for information literacy programs.

I will leave you with a final thought as we return to our homes and look forward to our re-convening at ECIL2020. I was reminded today of the concept of “the prepared mind” – the mindset that is the capacity to benefit from what one encounters. As we leave this place and each other, we leave with a newly prepared mind.  We are poised to benefit in new ways from what we encounter. We came together to exchange ideas. We leave inspired, challenged, and nourished in our information literacy work.  Thank you.

 

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This work can be shared under this licence: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 international.

Doctoral Forum

The doctoral forum of the European Conference on Information Literacy 2018 will have a novel concept with a focus in scientific publishing. We want to extend the invitation to all doctoral candidates attending the conference. In other words, a participant does not have to have submitted a paper to the doctoral forum to participate.

The doctoral forum will be held on the final day of the conference (Thursday 27th of September). The schedule has not yet been planned in detail, but we are happy to inform you that Professor Peter Bath (University of Sheffield, UK) and Dr Emma Coonan (Anglia Ruskin University, UK) have agreed to speak in the doctoral forum. In addition, Professor Karen E. Fisher (University of Washington, US) as well as other scholars will act as mentors in the forum.

We have asked scholars to share their experiences on scientific publishing as researchers, reviewers, and editors. The doctoral candidates will have an active role in the forum but will not be required to prepare full presentations or papers.

At this point, we would ask those doctoral candidates interested in participating to contact the organising committee. This way we can consider this in the general schedule.

Note that the early bird registration of ECIL conference will close on the 22th of June.

Sponsors

This conference has received support from The Federation of Finnish Learned Societies, granted by the Ministry of Education and Culture and financed by Veikkaus revenues.

Excursions

Lively Oulu, the pearl of Fennoscandia, is a gateway to urban culture as well as to the unique nature of the North. This is where modern business meets northern peace and exoticism. Founded in 1605 by King Charles IX of Sweden, Oulu charms with its light and lushness and has an interesting history.

The former salmon and tar capital has evolved into a major high-tech centre, particularly in IT and wellness technology. The university has the world’s first 5G test network and the city itself has been nominated as the most intelligent community in Europe–twice. The city has one of the youngest populations in Europe and it is bound to do big things also in the future.

The word “Oulu” is probably derived from the Sámi word for “flood water” and quite fittingly, the city has a seaside feel to it. The archipelago nature is just around the corner and beautiful parks are all around. In the fall, the whole city takes a tint of red, yellow and brown called “ruska”, as the ubiquitous trees and bushes change colour in the anticipation of winter.

We hope you will take some time to become acquainted with the city of Oulu. The best way to do that is to take part in some of our exciting excursions!



Oulu Guided sightseeing tour by foot
A two-hour walk takes you from the new monumental centre to the old one. You will hear interesting and funny stories about the people and events of the past, see where the long narrow boats full of tar barrels landed and visit the old storehouses by the sea. You will also get to know the guardian of the market hall, a statue of a policeman “Toripolliisi” – a figure loved by everyone.1

Price: 15 / person
Date: September 24, 2018
Register


Guided sightseeing tour by bus:

Today the people of Oulu design software, produce the finest paper in the world, and do business all over the world. This bus tour takes you to the river, the seaside, the marshlands, and the woods. You will visit the old and new monumental centres of Oulu, the sites of culture and technology. During the tour, you will hear stories about tar merchants, ship builders, seafarers, and salmon fishers, and get a feel of the history of Oulu.1

Price: 23 € / person
Date: September 24, 2018
Register


Kierikki, Poro-Panuma & Koiteli2

Note! Maximum 60 participants!

This day trip takes you to three interesting and beautiful natural sites in the outskirts of Oulu.

First, the Kierikki Stone Age Centre takes you back in time thousands of years into the distant past of the North. The Kierikki Centre is located along the Iijoki river on a Stone Age dwelling site that has been studied since the 1960s.

The Kierikki Centre’s permanent exhibition explores local and regional pre-history and life in the Stone Age in a fascinating and entertaining way. It features the greatest finds of the excavation, including a mammoth’s molar tooth that is 35,000 years old! The road to the Stone Age village is a wide boardwalk with beautiful views to the nearby Iijoki river and the archaeological excavation is open to the public in summer. You might find something really old!

The trip also takes you to the Panuma village located in the middle of wilderness, one of the oldest villages of reindeer husbandry in the southern reindeer management area. No less than seven generations have already been practising reindeer husbandry at Poro-Panuma. You will see reindeer, reindeer and reindeer at the wilderness farm so make sure to charge your cameras!

Lastly, you will spend a wonderful afternoon in Koiteli, an island located in the middle of two beautiful rapids. Peaceful surroundings, ancient trees, and real Finnish coffee by open fire will relax the body and the mind. Take time to stroll around the trekking paths and listen to the forest like a true Finn.

Preliminary schedule:
9:00 Departure from Oulu
9:45 Arrival in Kierikki Stone Age Center
10:00 – 11:00 Guided tour in Stone Age Village
11:00 – 11.30 Visiting the museum
11:30 – 12:15 Lunch
12:45 – 13:45 Visiting Reindeer Farm Poro-Panuma
14:30 – 15:30 Visiting Koiteli Rapids and afternoon coffee by open fire
About 16:00 – 16:30 Arrival back to Oulu

Price: 118 € / person
Date: September 28, 2018
Register

Includes: Transportation in the tourist bus, an English-speaking tour leader during the whole trip, lunch, entrance fee to the Kierikki Stone Age Center, a guided tour in the Stone Age village, visit to the reindeer farm, and afternoon coffee in Koiteli.


Ranua Zoo, Arktikum & Santa Claus Village3

This tour is an arctic one! We will take you to Lapland, to the Ranua Zoo, to experience the wild arctic. The Ranua Wildlife Park specialises in arctic and northern animal species. The spacious animal fencings are located in the midst of northern conifer forests, the natural habitat of most of the animals.

Arctic Circle

You can see the only polar bears living in Finland, as well as 50 other arctic and northern animal species, 200 individuals, altogether. Say hi to arctic foxes, huge moose, musk oxen, and Venus the polar bear and her cub Sisu.

Ranua Zoo

From Ranua, we journey north to Arktikum, the science centre and museum that lets you experience northern nature, culture and history up close. Finland’s northernmost and largest province, Lapland has been home to permanent settlements and a broad network of northern peoples for thousands of years. The exhibitions illustrate the history of Lapland, its cultures, nature, and other contemporary themes. Familiarize yourself with the Lapland War, the occupations and livelihoods in the north, the unique natural characteristics, reindeer herding, as well as the Sámi people.

Finally, we will take you all the way to the Arctic Circle to meet none other than Santa Claus at the official Santa Claus village. You can take a photo with the one and only Santa and let him know what you want for Christmas well in advance. You will get to cross the Arctic Circle, also known as the border of hastiness, where regular time changes into the magic time of elves and reindeer. Lapland might steal your heart, so be warned!

Preliminary schedule
8:00 Departure from Oulu
10:00 Arrival in Ranua
10:00 – 12:00 Visit to the Ranua Zoo
12:00 – 13:00 Lunch
13:00 Drive to Rovaniemi
14:00 – 15:30 Guided visit to science center Arktikum.
16:00 – 17:30 Visit to Santa Claus village and Arctic Circle
17:30 Departure back to Oulu

Price: 145 € / person
Date: September 28, 2018
Register

Includes: Transportation in the tourist bus, an English-speaking tour leader during the whole trip, lunch, the entrance fees to the Ranua Zoo and Arktikum, and a guided tour in Arktikum.

If, for any reason, there were not enough participants, a trip would be canceled and you will receive a FULL refund


1. Oulun kaupungintalo © Oulun kaupunki.
2. Kierikki: Kierikki exhibition © Esa Eirola; Leiri7 © Oulun luuppi.
Koiteli: koiteli.
Poro-Panuma: kesaaita1 © Poro-Panuma.

3. Oulun kaupungintalo © Oulun kaupunki.

Registration

How to register

Submit your ECIL 2018 registration via the online registration form. The participation fee includes the conference program and materials, lunches, coffees. (Please note that the gala dinner is not included in the conference registration fee).

Registration Fees

  Early Bird
Before June 15, 2018
Regular
Between June 16,
August 31, 2018
Late & Onsite
After 1st September 2018
Regular 400 € 450 € 550 €
Student 250 € 300 € 400 €
Accompanying person* 200 € 250 € 350 €

** Author registration deadline: 30 June 2018

 

Payment and Cancellation Policy

  • The registration of participation is binding.
  • If you have to cancel the registration, you get 80% back until 30 days before the start of the event. In all other cases, the financial responsibilities of the participants remain fully effective.
  • The participation fees are owed upon registration and are payable within 7 days following submission of the registration (but not later than 7 days before the starting day of the event). The payment is to be made either with credit card or wire transfer**.
  • Participation is not guaranteed until full payment of the registration fee is received.
  • Participation that has already been registered can be transferred to another person from the same organisation without any extra charge.
  • The conference program may be subject to changes.
  • Payments will be refunded if the conference will be canceled by the organizer. In that case, the organizer will have no further liability to the client. Registrations remain valid if the conference has to be postponed.

* The Accompanying person registration permits an individual to accompany a regular conference registrant to receptions, lunches, coffee breaks. The “Accompanying person registration” is NOT for individuals who would otherwise need to pay for a full registration.
** Please note that, in case of wire transfer additional fees are charged by banks for non European countries. All fees and charges applied by intermediary (correspondent) and receiving banks for their role in processing the transaction and payment are to be paid by the participants.

Third call for papers

Organized by the Department of Information Management of Hacettepe University, the Department of Information and Communication Sciences of Zagreb University, the Information Literacy Association, and the  Department of  Information and  Communication Studies  at  the  University of  Oulu,  the  European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL) will take place in Oulu, Finland, from 24-27 September 2018.

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Second Call for Papers

European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL)
http://ecil2018.ilconf.org/
September 24-27, 2018, Oulu, Finland

Organized by the Department of Information Management of Hacettepe University, the Department of Information and Communication Sciences of Zagreb University, the Information Literacy Association, and the Department of Information and Communication Studies at the University of Oulu, the European Conference on Information Literacy ( ECIL) will take place in Oulu, Finland, from 24-27 September 2018.

Continue reading

First Call for Papers

First Call for Papers
European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL)
September 24-27, 2018, Oulu, Finland

Organized by the Department of Information Management of Hacettepe University, the Department of Information and Communication Sciences of Zagreb University, the Information Literacy Association, and the Department of Information and Communication Studies at the University of Oulu, the European Conference on Information Literacy ( ECIL) will take place in Oulu, Finland, from 24-27 September 2018.

Continue reading