Olivia (OnLIne Virtual Information Assistant) is an online information literacy course, provided by Imperial College London Library.  It is aimed at undergraduate students.


Olivia will help you to develop crucial skills in one of the key areas your lecturers, and future employers, consider vital: how to find, use and present information coherently, effectively and efficiently. By using Olivia you will be introduced to new skills, or have the opportunity to expand existing skills when handling information.

To be fully competent when using information, you should know how to

  • find,
  • evaluate,
  • analyse,
  • exploit,
  • manage,
  • organise,
  • communicate, and
  • synthesise information.

You might not have thought much about it before, but there are many aspects to information. Olivia aims to provide you with the answers to the questions you might have, or set you on the right path towards finding the answers. Not only will you be a better student, but your marks will improve, and you’ll be even more attractive to employers.

This course should build up your skills and knowledge so that you:

  1. know where and how to find the most relevant information for your purpose
  2. can identify the most relevant search tool to find information
  3. can construct and refine your search strategy to find information
  4. understand the concept of academic integrity, and can demonstrate how good academic practice (writing skills, reference management) promotes academic integrity
  5. understand what plagiarism is, and to avoid plagiarism
  6. understand the legal issues surrounding the use of information, such as copyright and intellectual property rights
  7. know how to manage your information using tools such as reference management software
  8. know how to use referencing systems, such as Harvard and Vancouver
  9. can critically evaluate information, in whatever format, using criteria including relevancy, reliability, authority, timeliness, accuracy, and point of view or bias
  10. know what the best information resources are in your subject, and know how to find information resources for new subject areas
  11. can use effective note-taking techniques
  12. know how to keep up-to-date with your subject using current awareness tools, including web 2.0 technologies
  13. are confident at communicating academic information, either in written or oral formats
  14. can synthesise information, to develop and create your subject knowledge
  15. know how to structure written academic work, such as essays, reports and dissertations
  16. understand the ethical issues surrounding the use of your personal information, and that of others, including online security

Olivia is available for you to work through at your own pace. If you are using in class, your teacher will tell you which sections you’re using during that time. At other times you can select skills area you need help with, and work through that particular section.

If you are using Olivia in class and have been asked to complete the pre-course survey, you will find a link to this in the Assessments section.

You should find that as you progress through your degree, some sections of Olivia will be more relevant than others, and as your information handling skills improve, you will find Olivia can help whichever stage of study you’re in.

Any questions? Contact your liaison librarian or principal library assistant, either virtually or in person.

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