What is Information Literacy?
Gail Bush describes Information Literacy as being able to access information and then be able to evaluate, judge, synthesize and then use the information for one’s own purposes. How can this be achieved? This guide is intended for students in secondary education as they start to build an understanding of research and gathering information, which will aid in their development of higher critical thinking skills. Information Literacy in the 21st Century is an important skill that is necessary in education and the world of work. As the Presidential Committee on Information Literacy reports, problem solving is more difficult when people lack access to meaningful information vital to good decision-making and the ability to determine what is viable information, and what is not.
Types of Information Literacy?
Literacy was once considered just reading and writing. The meaning has now become much more broad and covers more than just the printed word. The ability to develop multiple literacies increases one’s understanding. (Blair, 2012) When researching information, one needs to evaluate sources for validity of the information in order to form their own opinion or viewpoint. This includes evaluation of new media literacies. Students, as well as adults, are part of participatory environments that have and continue to emerge. (Pascarella) One needs to develop skills in the following areas:
- Critical Literacy – Reading and Thinking
- Media Literacy – Visual and Computer
- Research – Searching and Evaluating
- Information Ethics – Copyright and Security/Privacy
Why is developing the skill of Information Literacy important?
Individuals may think developing the skill of Information Literacy just pertains to education, particularly higher education. Developing this skill helps carry on every day tasks and research for one’s persona life as well.
Being able to determine accuracy of information that is available is important. There are instances where fake stories are reported either as a joke or to create a negative image of a person or place.
- Just because it is on the Internet, does that mean it is the truth and accurate?
- The majority of blogs are written reflecting one’s personal opinion. Even when there is work cited included, many times these still reflect the person’s view based on what they have read.
- Are the images that are on the Internet all real?
- Have they been altered?
Availability of Information
Information is now available anytime and everywhere (with an Internet connection), 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. Information is available through:
- Public Libraries
- College Libraries
· Access to Scholarly Articles
· Access to Scholarly Journals
- Some charge a fee for access to journals
- Some access is given through a university’s website for their students, employees and alumni
- Google Scholar
When doing research on a topic, one can use a company’s/organization’s website to obtain information. For example, if doing research on the topic of juvenile diabetes, one might consult the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation for statistics and other general information about the disease.
Information shared through these venues include current events, pop culture and personal opinion. If a story is being reported, it is best to see if it is reported via news outlets. There are instances where false stories are created in blogs and shared to try to sway public opinion about a person or place, but there is no validity to the information.
- Blogger/WordPress or other blogging sites
- Is the information a reliable source?
- Is the information based on one’s personal opinion/viewpoint or is it presented by an expert and published in a journal or article database?
“Blair, N. (2010) Raising the Bar in Public Libraries: Literacy, Adolescent Development and Young Adult Services
University of Iowa, LIS Journal. (Accessed, December 12, 2013). http://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=bsides
Bush, G. Information Literacy in the 21st Century Classroom. January 26, 2012.
Pascarella, J. (2008) Confronting the Challenges of Critical Digital Literacy: An Essay Review Critical Constructivism: A Primer. Educational Studies. 43. P. 246 – 255
Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report, American Library Association, July 24, 2006.
http://www.ala.org/acrl/publications/whitepapers/presidential (Accessed December 12, 2013).