Walsh, Andrew (2014) Playing with Information Literacy. In: LILAC 2014, 23 - 25 April 2014, Sheffield Hallam University. (Submitted)

Those of us who teach information skills in academic libraries often talk about the need to develop higher level, transferable skills, those skills we think will be retained and re-used, helping to develop information literate people. In practice, this is hard to do, with these desires tempered by limited contact time, one-shot instruction, and the need for students to ‘just get a few references’ for their next assignment.

This short paper proposes that even with limited teaching time, bringing play and games into libraries and the teaching of information skills in Higher Education is practical and would benefit students directly, both while at university, and equipping them with the skills they need for lifelong learning.

Play brings a freedom to explore and innovate, creating ‘safe’ ways of developing skills such as those required to navigate in the complex, demanding, modern information landscape. It can therefore effectively support the development of those higher level, transferable, information literacy skills. Examples of games used in libraries can be found in the literature, though these often emphasise engagement rather than quality of learning, which can be problematic. Using play, as opposed to the special case of game, activities have largely been limited to the ‘creative’ subject areas, such as art and design.

This paper shows the benefits of using play in libraries to improve information literacy, illustrating it with examples of play, games and gamification within libraries and academic skills settings. Attendees will be provided with examples and resources that will help them create their own playful libraries as a major step towards developing higher level information skills.

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