I was lucky enough to have been awarded a bursary to attend the LILAC Conference 2019, held in Nottingham from 24-26 April. I’ve always wanted to attend LILAC as I’ve enjoyed tweets from this event in the past and I would definitely not have been able to afford it without the bursary.
Note taking and sharing learning
I experimented with a ‘sketchnote’ style of note taking, inspired by Aurélie Gandour https://twitter.com/i/moments/984805698122010625. I didn’t manage to sketchnote every single session that I attended, but what I did capture can be seen here. In the past, I have live-tweeted at conferences but this was a different way of processing, summarising and sharing information. I write much more slowly than I type, so I had to be more selective in what I wanted to record, and also had to rely more on paraphrasing and recall. It was a useful exercise and a few people said they found it helpful which was nice.
The value of collaborative working
I think this was the main learning point of the conference, for me. The projects that most excited me, the New Literacies Alliance, and De Montfort University’s Freedom to Achieve, were built by teams of people working across organisations or departments. I was encouraged to see critical thinking and social justice issues being championed by librarians who valued working with others, and found strength through this. Working as an almost solo librarian, I have been feeling increasingly isolated in my role and have seen this as a wakeup call to look out for more opportunities for collaboration. Also, of course, the open access online learning materials created by the New Literacies Alliance are an amazing resource that I’ll definitely be using in my teaching.
Reframing information literacy and the role of the library/librarian
Two other talks that also resonated with me were Alison Hicks’s presentation on supporting international student information literacy practices, and Hannah Hickman’s, on imposter syndrome. These were both thoughtful and thought-provoking, and helped me to reexamine concepts that I had assumed familiarity with from a different perspective. The idea of information literacy as a repositioning of the self is an interesting one, which I need to explore more in my workplace context of busy healthcare professionals ‘transitioning’ into the role of learners when they come to use the library. Alison argued that we can maybe do more to encourage sociality, connections, and interaction – as well as enabling space for reflection.
I really valued Hannah’s funny, intelligent, and honest reflections on librarianship, professional identity, and where we situate ourselves in relation to students. She made some great points on how we should resist neoliberal ‘objective’ measurements of success such as the TEF and learning analytics, as well as making connections between the ‘performance’ of library instruction and the relationship between audiences and actors in theatre, thus arguing for the acceptance of ‘failure’ or mistakes in our practice. There was also a lovely moment when she mentioned Sajni Lacey’s work on imposter syndrome – who was right there in the room! – and they were both very excited about it. Librarians are such a warm and supportive professional body, and this perfectly encapsulated that.
Being on a panel
I was really fortunate to be part of the closing panel at LILAC, with four other fabulous librarians (Elizabeth Brookbank, Sajni Lacey, Darren Flynn, and Clare McCluskey Dean) discussing how we apply critical library pedagogy in practice. It was a terrifying experience as I definitely felt like such an imposter – I only know a little bit about this, and am by no means an expert. I dealt with this by admitting when I didn’t know the answer, relying on other members of the panel, and reflecting issues back to the audience. In future, if I’m ever asked to be on a panel again, I’ll ensure I’m better prepared! Being part of a team definitely helped, though, and I hope it was useful to others.
Overall, it was an excellent learning experience and such a good opportunity to meet and learn from others. Events like this help me make wider intellectual and professional connections, which I am grateful for. Thanks again LILAC!