Keynote speakers

Dr. Karen E. Fisher

Dr.Karen E. FisherDr. Karen E. Fisher is a Professor in the University of Washington Information School and Chair of The Information & Society Center (ISC). She teaches and conducts research on how people experience information as part of everyday life, with emphasis on the interpersonal aspects of information behavior, the role of informal social settings in information flow, as well as the broad impacts of information and communication technologies. 

Her current work with Michael Crandall addresses how information literacy is key to the benefits derived from free access to computers and the Internet in public libraries.  In this mixed methods study conducted across the U.S. for the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, findings show that two out of every three people use library technology on behalf of another person, which has enormous implications for how we consider and support information literacy and determine impact.

Co-author of the forthcoming monograph Digital Inclusion: Measuring the Impact of Information and Community Technology, Dr. Fisher is co-editor of the monograph Theories of Information Behavior.  Her past funders include the National Science Foundation, Microsoft Research, the United Way of America, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.  Recipient of the 2005 and 2008 Jesse H. Shera Award for Distinguished Published Research from the American Library Association, Dr. Fisher has also been recognized for her research by the American Society for Information Science & Technology, and the Association for Library and Information Science Education. 

An alumnae of the University of Western Ontario (PhD & MLIS) and Memorial University of Newfoundland (BA), she held a postdoc at the University of Michigan, chaired the UW iSchool’s Master of Library and Information Science program (2004-08); and was a Visiting Researcher at Microsoft Research, and a NORSLIS Visiting Professor at Oslo University College, Norway. 

In 2005-06 Dr. Fisher was chair of ASIST SIG USE and has since served as treasurer—receiving the ASIST SIG Member of the Year Award in 2008.  She serves on the international program committees for ISIC: The Information Behavior Conference and i3: Information: Interactions and Impact; as well as the information behavior track chair for IIiX 2010 Symposium on Information Interaction in Context, and co-program chair of the 2010 iSchool Conference and program chair of the 2011 iSchool Conference. To learn more, visit and

Dr Ralph Catts

Dr Ralph Catts

Ralph Catts is the Senior Research Fellow at Stirling Institute of Education.  His research interests are focused on aspects of lifelong learning including access for disadvantaged people to education in urban, rural and remote communities, and the role of generic skills in higher and further education, with a particular interest in Information Literacy. He also provides research supervision for graduate students in these areas of study.

Since coming to Scotland he has conducted a series of workshops in Scandinavian countries and in Central Europe on the implementation, assessment and evaluation of information literacy programmes in higher education. He has also worked as a consultant to UNESCO on information literacy policy in the context of the UNESCO Information for All Programme (IFAP). UNESCO has adopted a proposal on international indicators of information literacy proposed by Dr Catts in conjunction with Jesus Lau. He will be submitting a further report to UNESCO on the identification of indicators of IL in December 2009.

Before he took up his current post in Scotland in 2004 he was at the University of New England in Australia from where he contributed to the development of the Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework. He also developed the Information Skills Survey for use in evaluating outcomes of Information Literacy programmes in higher education.

Prior to commencing his academic career in 1990, Dr Catts had been a senior civil servant in the NSW State Government and the Australian Government. His responsibilities included policy and planning for libraries within a state wide education system as well as a wide range of curriculum and assessment initiatives especially in relation to transitions beyond compulsory schooling.

This link takes you to a conceptual framework paper called 'Towards Information Literacy Indicators'.

Tony Durcan

Tony DuncanHead of Culture, Libraries and Lifelong Learning for Newcastle City Council, joining Newcastle as Head of Libraries and Information in 2002, taking over responsibility for Lifelong Learning in 2004, for Culture in 2006, and Tourism in 2008.  

Before moving to Newcastle Mr Durcan worked for  Gateshead Library and Arts Service,  as Assistant Director, then Deputy Director and latterly as Head of Libraries, Arts and Information. Previous to this he had a variety of roles with Derbyshire Library Service, from Trainee to District Librarian.

Public library priorities in Newcastle have been; to work with colleagues to modernise services, to gain acknowledgement for the quality services being delivered, and to create a positive profile for the Library Service within the Council. The service is now held in high regard by both the Council and external stakeholders. One of Newcastle’s  major projects has been  the development of a new city library through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) route. Mr Durcan is the Director of this really exciting project, and the Council opened its new city library, with a very positive public response, in June of this year.

Mr Durcan was President of the Society of Chief Librarians from 2007 until 2009. The role and the workload were  both  challenging, but Mr Durcan found it a great opportunity (and a privilege) to represent public libraries at the national level. He is also a member of the Advisory Council on Libraries, and a Board member for the Public Libraries Modernisation Review.