ECIL 2014

In late October, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL2014) in Dubrovnik, Croatia, to give a keynote talk. Those who have visited Dubrovnik (or watched Game of Thrones) will know how beautiful it is; others can find out here.

This is the second ECIL conference, the first having been held in Istanbul in 2013. This second conference was again jointly organized by the LIS departments of Zagreb University, Croatia, and Hacettepe University, Turkey. The organizers did an admirable job, with particular credit going to the local team of Sonja Špiranec and Mihaela Banek Zorica.

The ECIL conference: panel session
The ECIL conference: panel session
The proceedings of the conference will be published as a book in Springer’s Communications in Computer and Information Science series. In the meantime, detailed coverage of the presentations and discussions is appearing in a number of blogs, including the information literacy blogspot and Jane Secker’s blog.
With over 170 contributions, including presentations, posters, panels, workshops, etc., and a genuinely worldwide participation, it is not easy to summarise the main points of the conference, although the bloggers noted above have had a good try. One of my main impressions was that this is one of the few conferences at which there is a genuine balance, and interaction, between research and practice; this seems exceptionally valuable, and I hope it is maintained in future ECILs, and perhaps rubs off on some other meetings.

Distraction from the conference: the Adriatic at Dubrovnik
Distraction from the conference: the Adriatic and Dubrovnik
Among the issues which were discussed, not for the first time, and certainly not for the last, were to what extent can we think of information literacy as a process, and as associated with problem solving; is it best thought of as an individual competence or as a social practice; and can there be a generic information literacy, or must it always be embedded in the context of a subject or domain. There was also concern as to how it could be extended beyond formal education, and particularly beyond the higher education setting, which accounted for most of the practitioner papers presented here. There was also a strong theme of radical, critical and political information literacy; particular well-expressed by Andrew Whitworth of Manchester University, in a presentation deriving from his new book.
Inevitably there were a profusion of names and concepts, new and old: digital literacy, media literacy, transliteracy, data literacy, archival literacy, metaliteracy, and the rest. My own suggestion to make sense of these, with a framework of three different levels rooted in an expanded idea of ‘information fluency’ met with interest from a very polite audience.

There was also debate as to whether information literacy should now be seen as a discipline in its own right, or whether it is better seen as a speciality associated with education or with library/information science. Louise Limberg gave a convincing exposition of the latter position.

The next ECIL conference, devoted to Green information literacy, will be held in October 2015 in Tallinn, Estonia.

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