Critical information literacy and non-traditional research methods: a case study of practice-led research and music students [slides]

ALIA Library

Beardmore, Meredith

ALIA National 2022 Conference, 16 May - 19 May 2022 Canberra: Diversity

Abstract: Critical information literacy is about challenging the social and political powers at play in every stage of the information life cycle. Challenging these dynamics allow libraries to discover new ways to connect, engage, and empower a more diverse user-base. This presentation examines critical information literacy and its importance to academic librarians. Large philosophical ideas will be explored, from critical information literacy and its connection to critical pedagogy, particularly through the work of Paulo Freire. From there, non-traditional research outputs (NTROs) and methods will be discussed. The connection between NTROs and critical information literacy is underrepresented in the literature and presents an opportunity for academic librarians to demonstrate their value in this relatively new field. Employing a critical approach allows academic librarians to strengthen their relationships with student and staff. Indeed, many existing methods that are well known to librarians can be employed to this end, from collaborative methods such as flipped classroom and dialogic approach to students as partners. The presentation will bring these issues into focus by discussing a case study: an information literacy session on practice-led research delivered to second year Bachelor of Music students. The literature around teaching practice-led research at an undergraduate level is sparse. While initially daunting, developing this session provided a valuable collaborative learning experience alongside teaching faculty, and enabled me to develop my skills as facilitator. The case study will explore how the session came about, how it was delivered, the challenges faced, and the benefits of moving into a practice-led space. One benefit in particular that stood out to me was that by discussing practice-led research with music students early in their undergraduate degree, and linking it to their individual creative practice, students are provided more opportunities to see themselves as researchers, and to see their ideas as valuable and academically worthy. The library has an exciting role to play in bridging the gap between practice and research in creative disciplines. In this presentation, I hope to spark a conversation around how academic libraries can engage with critical information literacy in order to challenge their own stance within academia, to advocate for more diverse and inclusive practices, and to deepen the support we provide to students and staff.
Diversity is broader than providing diverse collections and services – our diverse communities need to know that libraries are challenging systems of inequity, including the position that libraries hold within these systems, no matter how uncomfortable that idea is. Critical pedagogy and critical information literacy are vital in moving libraries into this space in order to empower our users. Librarians in academic institutions hold a unique position; we are educators and critical thinkers but often without the confines of assessment. In this presentation I will discuss why we should see this as a strength and how the informal learning space fosters critical thinking through collaboration via a dialogic approach. A case study will demonstrate the practical application of these broad philosophical ideas in the library information literacy session. Libraries should advocate diversity within research approaches. The case study explores library-teacher collaboration in delivering a session about practice-led research. Students in artistic disciplines personal creative practices represent a diverse cohort, which may not be fully captured within a traditional curriculum. Practice-led research implicitly recognises the value of these culturally and intellectually diverse practices within an institutional context. The library’s role, may lead to greater engagement and stronger creative output from student artists.


Deakin, ACT: Australian Library and Information Association