Friday, 3 April 2009

LILAC 2009 - An Overview of Events

Well before this week I was a LILAC virgin, but I feel that after a manic few days down in sunny Cardiff I have been officially initiated into the LILAC phenomenon, and, been subjected to a few home truths about ‘stereotypical librarians’ (seeing a throng of Librarians rock to Nirvana was definitely an eye-opener!!)
I must admit that I had a fair few pre-conceptions about what LILAC would have in-store, many of which were way off the mark…

Fact or Fiction?

The days are steady and the nights are filled with a cup of cocoa and an early night.

FALSE – the days are packed to the rafters with parallel sessions and keynote speakers, a mad dash from room to room, intermittently broken by refreshments. The evenings are a frenetic race to get showered, dressed and ready to network, a none stop whirl of wine, food, talk, wine, laughter, talk…and a bit of dancing too!!

It’s important to dress to impress.

FALSE (apart from during the Conference Dinner) – I learnt my lesson wearing smart work clothes (with heeled boots) throughout the entire time at Cardiff. Daytimes should be strictly casual and comfy – FLAT SHOES are a must…I had an hours walking everyday – in heeled boots this was not the best part of my day!! The Conference Dinner was the time to get the glad rags on and enjoy some of Cardiff’s finest…

You’ll get to meet lots of extremely interesting people.

TRUE – Everyone is so friendly at LILAC and every new person you meet has a different story to tell or idea to share. A truly fascinating experience in discovering what’s really happening outside of your institution.

There will be time to reflect and blog about sessions.

FALSE – The days are full as are the evenings; I never had chance to reflect on the sessions I had attended never mind actively blog about them!!

‘LILAC’ stands for Librarians Information Literacy Annual Conference.

TRUE (however I came up with another option whilst returning home after an eventful Conference Dinner... lively intoxicated librarians at Cardiff…)

I would have to say that my overall experience at LILAC was a rather exhausting one (in the nicest way possible of course!). The keynote speakers this year delivered thought-provoking talks about Information Literacy in the 21st Century, Melissa Highton (University of Oxford) particularly struck a chord with me and my research with her allusion to Prensky’s ‘digital natives/immigrants’ and the term ‘digital literacy.’ Patricia Iannuzzi (University of Nevada) also referred to Prensky’s work on ‘engaging’ 21st Century learners which I found particularly pertinent with regards to the m-learning trend. (Check back soon for more in-depth insights into this year’s keynotes in a separate blog posting).

So what about the parallel sessions? I will give a brief insight into the most relevant sessions I attended here, and will blog in more detail in separate postings about the sessions which particularly grabbed me.

Most informative to my project was Andrew Walsh’s (University of Huddersfield) session ‘If they won’t turn them off, we might as well use them. Using mobile phones in information skills sessions.’ Andrew gave great insights into the different methods he has trialled during his information skills sessions for undergraduate students and looked towards the future for the University of Huddersfield and the use of the mobile phone in library settings, including an exploration of QR tags and such schemes as ‘text a librarian.’

Peter Godwin (University of Bedfordshire) talked of the exploitation of mobile devices with regards to information literacy in his session ‘Information literacy meets the mobile web.’ Peter gave an overview of m-learning possibilities correlating to information literacy practices and spoke of the options appearing as a result of a more mobile future. His session backed up a lot of the research I have performed and reinforced certain aspects of m-learning, whilst also providing interesting references to articles I had not yet read.

Having experienced the Learning 2.0 at LJMU training programme over the last 12 weeks, I attended the session hosted by Imperial College London ‘ 2.0 much to do: how, when and why should library staff find out about web 2.0, and what does it mean for information literacy?’ Jenny Evans and Ruth Harrison gave an interesting interactive session about the very first English web 2.0 training programme for library staff; it was good for me to have an insight into another HEIs approach, enabling me to feedback to our Learning 2.0 @ LJMU team here at John Moores.

Not especially relevant to my m-learning research but probably my favourite session was that conducted by Zoe Johnson and Lisa Balman (University of Huddersfield ‘Just give me The Basics: online inductions at the University of Huddersfield Library.’ Zoe and Lisa highlighted the problems encountered through trying to engage 21st century learners with quite ‘dry’ material associated with information literacy. To overcome this hurdle they have designed a clear and easy-to-navigate website packed with podcasts, demo’s and image slideshows to help make the delivery of information literacy all the more interesting.

Nathan Rush’s (De Montfort University) session ‘Researcher Wiki: experiences, analysis and reflections on using the read/write web to build researcher communities’ was also a very informative interactive session that I think deserves a mention!!

For me, LILAC gave me great insights into the possibilities and practices with regards to information literacy skills training and library inductions. Being at such an early stage in my career I feel that this experience has been invaluable in raising my awareness and preparing me to continue on down my chosen career path. I now feel that I have a much greater understanding of the best way to ‘reach’ our students and deliver sessions that are relevant, engaging and accessible to all students across the ‘digital native – digital immigrant’ spectrum.

And finally, for any other LILAC virgins that are compelled to attend next year here are my top 5 tips:

1. Wear flat shoes.
2. Take a supply of pro plus.
3. Research accommodation (both location and customer reviews!) properly and book early.
4. Take contact cards/business cards (or you will end up with loads of scrappy bits of paper to exchange details with new found acquaintances.

Check back soon for individual postings about individual parallel sessions and keynote speakers…


  1. Great stuff, Vicki. I like the revised acronym, up there with Debbi's usual take that LILAC stands for "Librarians in Leather and Chains"!
    Glad you enjoyed it -shame you missed the last keynote from Conor Galvin which was very amusing and interesting

  2. Great review Vicki, sounds like it was an excellent event. Love your tips, will definitely bear those in mind when I go to a conference.

  3. Hi Vicki, Great overview, and I also suffered in heels! It was incredibly busy and exhausting, I agree, with barely time to change between the day sessions and the evening socials, but I also agree with you that the conference was interesting and informative, and full of friendly people. I'm really glad my institution sent me along, as I feel I got a really good overview of different ways to approach information literacy in an innovative and interesting way, and got to meet other professionals in the field. I'm still tired but inspired several days later!

  4. Your top 5 tips are spot on Vicky...especially the recommendation about comfy shoes! Did anyone film the librarians rocking out to Nirvana? Would love to see that video! :)

  5. I don't know of any videos as of yet, there are photo's though I think - I may have to try and ask someone nicely if I can post a couple of photo's so we can all have a few smiles!!

  6. Ginny Franklin8 April 2009 at 08:47

    Thanks for your review Vicki - it helps build up a picture of the conference for those of us who weren't there. I thought your tips were great. On a light-hearted note, who'd thought we'd all clamour for sensible shoes!