Information Literacy for Democratic Engagement (IL-DEM)

  The findings of this research will contribute to strategies to improve citizen engagement in the democratic process at community level.
Community Councillors are a vital link between local communities and higher levels of government in Scotland. They are generally ‘ordinary people’ who often find it difficult to understand their powers and responsibilities in their Community Councillor roles. They also face other challenges related to their interactions with information. For example, they struggle to keep on top of important developments that affect their local communities and fellow citizens, such as planning proposals. They also often lack the skills required to disseminate information and communicate news in ways that suit their constituents (e.g. by social media). This is not because they are not interested in using information and communication technologies in their roles. Indeed many Community Councillors wish to be involved with digital engagement, but they simply do not know where to start.
One reason why their knowledge is limited is that the majority of Community Councillors are no longer in formal education. Thus levels of information literacy amongst this group generally depend on lifelong learning, rather than schooling or training. This project will draw on existing research on information literacy and lifelong learning to frame a study that investigates the information skills and practices of Community Councillors, with a view to identifying strategies on how these may be enhanced. The research will also consider the role of public library staff in the training of Community Councillors, as well as broader issues related to public library services’ role as related to the development of communities, social capital, and citizenship. This element of the study acknowledges the long-recognised part that libraries play in supporting citizenship – a role that is becoming more important as the austerity-driven spending environment throws more responsibilities onto local communities.

  • Start Date:

    10 October 2016

  • End Date:

    8 December 2016

  • Activity Type:

    Externally Funded Research

  • Funder:

    Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals

  • Value:

    £9668

Project Team