LILAC conference, 25 to 27 March 2024

Two members of the Social Informatics Research Group – Bruce Ryan and Drew Feeney – attended this conference, held in Leeds Beckett University in March 2024. Here they briefly record their impressions of the conference. (Bruce has blogged at greater length on his ‘research-ish’ blog.) 

Bruce’s impressions: no ‘death by powerpoint’!

For me, Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference 2024 (created by CILIP’s Information Literacy Group [ILG]) was the best conference I’ve attended. Other conferences have been equally well organised at the event, and a few have been equally helpful when preparing abstracts, submissions and slides. Others have also been equally welcoming, especially to ‘newbies’. However, what set this conference apart for me was the inclusion of activities designed to make participants think and/or interact in every session I attended. 

Perhaps the best example of ‘make us think and engage’ was the instruction to debate ‘The use of information literacy language alienates students and is a barrier to engagement’. In this debate, I argued that agreed terms are needed so that people can engage meaningfully. After all, if you are talking about pitch of screws, you would need to agree on which units to use, and the meanings of these units. Only then can you argue whether Whitworth is better or worse than other types of screw. (I don’t recall using this example at the time.) So too in IL debates, although I have not found IL discussions to be that jargon-heavy. (I admit I don’t currently teach, so probably am arguing from an ignorant position.) However, by the end of the debate I found my position changing, based on input from others’ experience.

As I mention in my research-ish blog-post, another very welcome feature of the conference was the all-round friendliness and welcome by staff and fellow delegates. I was somewhat concerned by the proportion of higher education topics in the presentation. However, I won’t rant about this because I know this concern is very much on the Information Literacy Group’s agenda.

In summary, if you want to know more about how to teach information literacy, or to hear the latest research, LILAC is the place to be.

Bruce’s presentation at LILAC 2024 was on the Information Literacy and Society project, undertaken with colleagues Peter Cruickshank and Marina Milosheva. His speaking notes, slides and padlets are on his research-ish blog.

Drew’s impressions

I attended the conference in a dual capacity as both a PhD student at ENU but also as part of my role as the Public Libraries Representative on CILIP’s Information Literacy Group (ILG), the body which oversees LILAC and its associated Journal of Information Literacy. This year was my first experience of LILAC, and what a brilliantly-organised and packed conference it was. I found the programme to be full of really interesting and thought-provoking sessions, with a particular focus on information literacy issues within the higher education sector and on emergent ideas around critical AI literacies. In my ILG role I was privileged to act as Chair for a fascinating programme session looking at social class in academia, and found lots of ideas for my PhD studies too during a session on participative research within art libraries – lots of new research avenues to pursue!

Like Bruce, I very much enjoyed the friendly and convivial atmosphere in which the conference was held, and it was great to meet up with many old colleagues as well as to develop new working relationships too. Indeed, I came home from Leeds with several new collaborative projects in the pipeline (watch this space!) so attending LILAC 2024 was a hugely worthwhile experience overall. I am already thinking of how best to get more public library-focused sessions onto the 2025 programme too, so am very much looking forward to returning to LILAC again next year.

Drew attended LILAC as the Public Libraries Representative on CILIP’s Information Literacy Group, where he represents the UK national public library sector on issues related to information literacy and its related disciplines. 

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