‘Troublesome knowledge’

‘Troublesome knowledge’ and threshold concepts were two of the topics covered by keynote speakers at the Information Literacy conference in Newcastle (LILAC 8-10 April 2015). The first keynote speaker to catch my imagination was Ray Land, a Durham educationalist (you can check his education publications on the library catalogue).

I was very intrigued but not entirely clear about the library slant on these concepts until Barbara Fister, an academic librarian from the US and final keynote speaker, filled in the blanks in her talk: ‘The liminal library: making our libraries sites of transformative learning.’ She stressed that knowledge is not only troublesome, but it is transformative, integrative and irreversible.  Fister argued that scholarship is a not a linear process but should be a conversation with library sources which are basically people talking to other people. As  result, students may have to wait for the eureka moment in the liminal space — the  library — the space where they can explore and experiment with sources.

I quite like the idea of the library and information literacy skills helping to deal with this uncomfortable knowledge through finding, using and evaluating information. I really want to throw out the idea of the library as a one-stop shop for a quick answer while at university, but rather, the library is a real and virtual place for exploring and searching for knowledge beyond a degree — for lifelong learning.

Newcastle LILAC was a fantastic conference full of innovations, information and troublesome knowledge which posed more questions for future thought.

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