SCONUL: Digital Literacies


SCONUL is the main representative body for academic libraries in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Its members include all university libraries, UK national libraries and many college libraries and specialist institutions. It works with its members to promote awareness of the role of academic libraries in supporting research excellence and student achievement and employability, and represents their views and interests to governments and regulators. It helps academic libraries collaborate to deliver services efficiently including through shared services, and to share knowledge and best practice. Its stakeholder communities include its members, fellow academic support professionals, and the academic staff, researchers and students who access the services and resources of its member libraries.
SCONUL takes a lead role in supporting information professionals to deliver innovative information literacy teaching within HE institutions, and to contextualise this within institutional learning and teaching strategies. The activities of the Working Group on Information Literacy, in particular their recent work on the 7 Pillars to develop a 'digital literacy lens' are designed to encourage debate and, as part of the process review the capabilities of information professionals working in technology rich environments and assess how their roles can become more effective in support of learners, academics and researchers .  Work has already progressed by SCONUL  on the digital research environment and on the information seeking behaviour of researchers. Collaborations with the Research Information Network  have led to a number of initiatives and published outputs, available on the Research Development and Skills page on the RIN website.

SCONUL has a select number of key objectives to achieve as part of its contribution to the Digital Literacy Programme, specifically to:

  • engage with peer organisations to position information literacy within the broader context of digital literacies
  • to influence members and stakeholders in developing the appropriate skills and behaviours to maximise the benefits of working in a digital environment
  • deliver a step change in our own organisational digital literacy, focussing on improving our online communications, stakeholder engagement and our digital presence

SCONUL works in partnership with a number of other organisations who represent information and related professions, and specifically within the UK the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP), the professional body for all information workers. Professional development within CILIP is based on a Body of Professional Knowledge, which describes what individual members should acquire to be successful practitioners. It is implicit that effective use of information is key to becoming an effective practitioner in the digital environment and it is envisaged that as the programme of work evolves the benefits accrued by SCONUL members will also be available to the wider membership of CILIP.


It is the intention of SCONUL to work with its members to further develop the digital literacy lens of the 7 pillars and to map it against the current range of activities. More information on this will be posted as the process progresses. This will add significant value to SCONUL’s work on information and digital skills within the HE library community. The primary benefit would be a more nuanced, detailed understanding of current levels of digital literacy within member library teams. This would allow us to identify both broad areas and specific pockets of skills deficit. The SCONUL Working Group on Information Literacy would find this very helpful in shaping both the tools being developed, and in targeting our communications with members on this issue

Anticipated Outputs and Outcomes

SCONUL has good working relationships with peer professional organisations at board and executive level. We envisage that engagement in this programme would also help deepen those relationships and facilitate the sharing of tools and information on aspects of digital literacy. We would expect this cross-fertilisation of ideas to lead to the development of new approaches, tools and practices across the HE community and to improvements in our own digital literacy as an organisation. The programme will also provide a locus for Board discussion of this issue which again will help support leadership engagement across the HE library community.

Project Staff

Project Manager
Alison Mackenzie
Dean of Learning Services
Edge Hill University

Project Team
Ann Rossiter

Documents & Multimedia

  • SCONUL Bid
    Portable Document Format (pdf) File [ 256 Kb ]
Start date
1 December 2011
End date
31 December 2013
Funding programme
e-Learning programme
Developing digital literacies
Project website
Lead institutions