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CrossEd: How University Libraries Support Information Literacy in Secondary Schools

Ray Lonsdale
Reader in Information Studies, Department of Information Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, Wales. UK

Since 2002, I have been exploring the nature of collaborations that are taking place between secondary schools and universities in the UK regarding the provision of information literacy skilling relating to the use of electronic resources. The project, which is known as CrossEd, was the first of its kind in the UK, and explored an aspect of information literacy development which has received little attention internationally – namely, how teachers and school librarians might work university librarians with to help prepare young people to exploit electronic resources when they move into post-16 education (tertiary education).

Our study identified twenty university libraries which are actively involved in working with secondary schools, from which we selected six as the basis of our case studies. Six types of training for school pupils were identified which ranged from facilitating access to the university collections of digital resources (with basic induction training in exploiting the resources), to more sophisticated developmental projects. Some of these projects were initiated by subject departments while others covered a variety of subject fields. Characteristically, the courses involved young people coming to the university library for varying periods of time to undergo systematic training in a range of information literacy skills including awareness of different kinds of electronic resources, developing search strategies, evaluation skills and  higher level skills of synthesising newly acquired information with existing knowledge. University librarians, often working with academic staff, would use the innovative types of teaching and learning methods that the pupils would encounter in tertiary education. A common feature was the use of university students who would be have been attached to schools and trained to work with school pupils.

There was an overwhelming positive response to the benefits of collaboration. University librarians’ responses can be summarized into the following groups:

Influencing work in school

  • enhancing performance in the school
  • encounter teaching and learning methods adopted in tertiary education
  • expose students to large electronic resources of the university sector.


Conditioning for transition to tertiary education

  • encouraging pupils into tertiary education
  • easing the psychological stress of moving from secondary education to tertiary education
  • improving public relations.

Influencing work in university

  • pupils entering tertiary education would be offered a more level playing field if some instruction were done in school
  • facilitating greater and more appropriate use of e-resources in undergraduate and postgraduate education.

A major issue that we identified is the need for school and university librarians to develop a closer rapport, since there was considerable and demonstrable ignorance of each others’ work and of collaborative initiatives – something that we will explore further with the School Library Association

Contact details for further information:

Ray Lonsdale

Reader in Information Studies, Department of Information Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth,  Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth, SY23 3AS Wales. UK

Email: rel@aber.ac.uk

January 14, 2007 Posted by | 4. Issue 43, 5. Theme 43: Information Literacy, U.K., Wales | Leave a comment