Info Literacy

Information literacy is quite an important buzzword in my world of librarianship. Short and sweet: in today’s world where we’re overwhelmed with information, we need to know how to not only find information, but how to access it and use it. I’m a fan of the ALA’s definition of information literate people as those who have ‘learned how to learn.’ ALA further defines someone information literate as someone able to:

  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally

I can’t even begin to talk about how much of my job is based on teaching people how to be information literate as well as digitally literate. The two clearly go hand in hand much more than ever and a surprising amount of people (especially professionals) haven’t been able to merge the gap. It’s funny – I find (speaking incredibly generically) that it’s often the older generations that are less digitally literate, but yet quite adept when it comes to being information literate. They can evaluate, analyze, understand, and use information with ease. I often find younger generations to be the opposite: able to find info quickly and navigate the digital world of information, yet much less adept at evaluating it critically, using the info, and particularly understanding the issues surrounding the use of that information. I’m assuming ALA’s last point is what resonates the most with this class. What does it mean to be a digital citizen? You certainly need to be both information- and digital- literate, which means you need to understand all the issues surrounding (digital) information.

Here’s a good bunch of resources looking at information literacy from the lens of librarianship: – The American Library Association page offers a great starting point for what information literacy means to libraries. As I quoted earlier, they provide a clear outline of what it means to be information literate.  – I think this is a great personal blog from Australia on information literacy and the different forms faces it takes in higher education. This is probably the last place it needs to be taught, since it should start much earlier, but it’s a great overview piece nonetheless. – The Ubiquitous Librarian is a great blog on the Chronicle of Higher Education website and this blog post is an interview with Andrew White, a lecturer who came up with the idea of ‘radical information literacy.’ He defines it as such: “practices that sustain learning and the potential for transformation within communities and their [information] landscapes.” – This is the site for the National Forum on Information Literacy. It’s more of a hub for news relating to info literacy-interesting for staying up to date. – Another good librarian blog, Library Babel Fish, from Inside Higher Ed, talks about info literacy in the less academic sense and some of its manifestations in the real world. Interesting thoughts educators should be thinking. – This open textbook is just a good basic overview of two current models in information literacy: The Seven Pillars Model and metaliteracy, – This site from the UN offers an ebook that provides an overview of info literacy resources around the world. It’s interesting to look at comparisons and differences regarding info literacy internationally.

3 thoughts on “Info Literacy

  1. A good start at a “Search & Research” piece. Everyone is starting the class at their own level, so pushing oneself and committing to the work will bring each Nouisoneer to different places/levels. I think you could dig a lot deeper than this cursory glance, if only because–as you rightly note–this is an area that you work directly in! When I saw you chose this topic, I expected you’d go below the surface. For instance, what about fluency? What about the digital adds requirements for new skills that don’t exist, or are at least greatly de-emphasized in traditional media? I do like that you chose to look at it from the librarianship angle, which opens up another whole set of thorny, overlapping problems and questions that could be included here…

    At the very least, please add some context to the links–an annotation, a pertinent quote, whatever makes sense—as it says in the assignment (emphasis added): links to 7 or more “readings” that support or expand upon your description/definition along with a brief summary. You can interpret “summary” however you’d like, though! The idea is to give your readers some idea of what to expect and/or why they should follow the link…

  2. Added some details to the links to provide more context, hopefully that’ll help. Re: the level of depth, I didn’t think the ‘search + research’ was necessarily the platform to go into a contrived discussion about info literacy from my professional standpoint. I can certainly expand on it because I have no shortage of opinions and experiences, but I thought this was more a brief descriptive piece. I’ll keep the thought in mind and maybe later write a deeper and more thought-out piece on information and digital literacy combined. Thanks for the feedback!

    1. Well, given your expertise, it would be interesting to hear more at a deeper level at some point. The idea of the “search and research” is to give participants the flexibility to start at the level they are at and work from there rather than me trying to have everyone start from some artificial point that is too basic for some and too complex for other. So naturally someone with expertise in the area would start from that point and hopefully dig in while someone totally new to it would create something different! At any rate, I would never ask for—or want—a “contrived” discussion.

      Thanks for adding context to the links…that makes for a much healthier piece of writing.

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