Information for Learning: Community

by | Mar 29, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Information is at the heart of our individual and collective learning experiences. As educators we look to research studies to enhance our understanding of information environments and help improve how we best support our students’ and citizens’ information skills.

The LARK Information for Learning Symposium (9 April online) is proud to host a number of speakers at the cutting edge of information studies and research to support LIS educators. The morning paper session provides us with an opportunity to hear from two researchers studying how information and digital habits and skills impact lifelong learning and literacies. Learning from these studies will assist libraries and librarians critically engaging with the information and digital literacy needs of our communities.

Please join us at #LARK2021 and welcome our first two paper sessions:

“I’m learning new things, and it brings up new things”: Information seeking for informal lifelong learning as a serious leisure
Dr Yazdan Mansourian (Charles Sturt University)

This paper presents selective findings of a research project about information behaviour in the context of serious leisure. Serious leisure includes a wide range of hobbies, amateurism and volunteer activities that people choose to do in their free time with a high level of passion and commitment during a long period (Stebbins, 1982). For example, gourmet cooking, food blogging, amateur photography, birdwatching, gardening, ultra-running, genealogy, liberal arts and lifelong learning are among serious leisure activities. Serious leisure is different from other kinds of leisure, such as casual and occasional leisure. It requires specific skills and knowledge and usually helps the participants form a new identity around their chosen activity. As a result, it entails a continuous pursuit of knowledge and involves various information actions including information seeking, searching, browsing, retrieving, saving, organising, sharing, evaluating, using and producing. At the same time, all these actions are embedded in an ongoing lifelong learning process.

This project has a qualitative approach using a semi-structured interview as its data collection tool and thematic analysis as its data analysis method. The results show serious leisure participants are involved in a long term learning journey with a high level of dedication and enthusiasm. However, they usually learn through informal settings such as joining clubs, exploring social media and attending informal gatherings. Moreover, most of them are passionate readers and friends of libraries. 

This paper concludes serious leisure participants are typically serious learners and have constant interaction with information resources. Their information behaviour is mainly purposeful. They seek information and look for new meanings for life and are enthusiastic about learning new skills in their chosen field.


Stebbins, R. A. (1982). Serious leisure: A conceptual statement. Pacific Sociological Review, 25, 251-272.

Bio note

Yazdan Mansourian is a lecturer in the School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University in Australia. He received his PhD in Information Science from The University of Sheffield in November 2006. His thesis’s title is Information Visibility on the Web and Conceptions of Success and Failure in Web Searching. Yazdan has a MA in LIS from the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad and a BSc in agricultural engineering from Guilan University. From January 2007 to June 2017 he was afaculty member at Kharazmi University. Yazdan joined CSU in August 2017, and his main research interest is human information behaviour in serious leisure. He explores the role of joy in engaging people with hobbies, amateurism and volunteer activities and how joyful experiences inspire the participants to seek, share and use information.

Digital literacy in the community and the role of libraries

Ms Kate Rowe (Doctoral student, Charles Sturt University)

After having an interest in lifelong learning and the role of libraries since I began working in libraries almost twenty years ago, in 2019 I undertook a research project with Charles Sturt University on how the community experiences digital literacy and the role of libraries in supporting the community’s digital literacy capabilities. 

Digital literacies are those capabilities that fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society. Digital literacy is the ability to access, manage, understand, integrate, communicate, evaluate and create information safely and appropriately through digital devices and networked technologies for participation in economic and social life. It includes competencies that are variously referred to as computer literacy, ICT literacy, information literacy, and media literacy (UNESCO, 2018 p. 6).

The aim of my research project was to meet with volunteer participants from both the community and public library staff, from different locations throughout Queensland, to gain an understanding of how the community experiences digital literacy in their everyday lives, the challenges or opportunities they saw in an ever changing digital world and how libraries were supporting the community to build their digital capabilities. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted with six community participants and four public library staff from the capital city area of Brisbane and rural and regional Queensland. Interviews questions were guided by Jisc’s 6 elements of digital capability: ICT proficiency and productivity; Information, data and media literacies; Digital creation, problem solving and innovation; Digital communication, collaboration and participation; Digital learning and development; and Digital identity and wellbeing (Jisc, 2017). The Jisc Framework was selected as it specifically included the digital capability of digital learning and development, which is not included in other frameworks for digital competent citizens, such as the European Union’s Digital Competence Framework 2.0 DigComp 2.0 (EU, 2019).

Using a constructivist grounded theory approach to explore both the community and library staff participant’s thoughts, feelings and lived experience of digital literacy provided rich authentic data with thick descriptions in the voice of the participants on how they experience digital literacy. Findings from this research project were consistent with the findings of research conducted by the Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII, 2015), which found there were significant gaps between those who are digitally included and those who face obstacles including digital affordability, accessibility and ability. Digital inclusion is influenced by differences in income, age, education levels, employment and geography and this was consistent with the findings of this research project. The research also found that the role of libraries was vital for assisting the community to access and develop their digital skills, especially for those who were the least digitally included.

This research project was approved by CSU’s Ethics Committee (Ethics Approval No H19194).


ADII. (2015). Australian digital inclusion index: Discussion paper. Retrieved from

European Union. (2019) The Digital Competence Framework 2.0. Retrieved from

Jisc. (2017). Building digital capabilities: The six elements defined. Retrieved from 

UNESCO. (2018). Global framework of reference on digital literacy skills for indicator 4.4.2. Retrieved from

Bio note

Kate Rowe is a researcher practitioner who has worked as a librarian in academic, TAFE, public libraries and in schools for almost twenty years. Throughout her career Kate has had a passion for lifelong learning, information and digital literacy, digital inclusion and the digital divide. Kate is currently a PhD student at Charles Sturt University. She has a Master of Education (QUT) and a Master of Information Management (QUT).


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