According to The National Forum on Information Literacy, “Information literacy is defined as the ability to know when there is a need for information, to be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use that information for the issue or problem at hand.” (NFIL, 2009) Information literacy requires that a person not only has the technical ability to ascertain information, but that they are also critical thinkers who can evaluate the validity of that information.
The current group of college aged students are definitely technically savvy having grown up with computers and web availability, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are information literate. Surprisingly, a report conducted by the Joint Information Systems Committee, a British higher-education research institute, found :
1)Young people don't develop good search strategies to find quality information.
2)They might find information on the Internet quickly, but they don't know how to evaluate the quality of what they find. (see http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/72347/july-31-2006/the-word---wikiality)
3)They don't understand what the Internet really is: a vast network with many different content providers. (Goodall,2008)
Academic and Public libraries can become valuable tools for lifelong learning if they take this opportunity to become “the place” that people choose to go to in order to learn about or expand upon their information literacy skills.
Information literacy is of increasing importance to libraries and librarians as libraries are poised to transition between primarily physical media to increased digital media. The uniform methods of organization, such as Library of Congress cataloging or the Dewey Classification system, are not readily adaptable to online sources, since hypertext blurs the finite forms of a journal or book. Moreover, online media can utilize even more powerful search engines and classifications, such as tagging or metadata. Because of this transition, traditional ways of teaching information literacy must be coupled with computer literacy to make them effective.
Libraries switching to, or which have switched to OPACs will still require a basic understanding of Dewey or Library of Congress classification to find physical items. In addition, basic computer skills such as using hardware and boolean search terms are necessary.
Libraries hoping to offer online services will face numerous problems even with computer literate patrons. Downloadable audio books will require each patron to use their own portable audio device. The librarian attempting to help patrons with this service may be facing a new mp3 player each time he or she helps someone. Online databases operate with different querying front-ends, and the sites they are built into often vary widely. Though basic database query rules will always apply, there are many variables in layout and appearance.
The internet offers many tools to help teach information literacy as well. There are message boards, support groups, FAQs, and help buttons everywhere with solutions to common web and library problems. The possibilities for video training sessions are amazing. There are many low cost ways of creating and editing a helpful video and hosting it on free web pages or embedding it into the library page to make sure patrons can see the steps involved in a complex task.
Using web 2.0 tools can help libraries reach patrons who are online. These tools can also be used to create a culture of information centered around the library, where patrons will use the library to stay connected with their work, school, or peers, and will hopefully help each other with information literacy, via chat groups and message boards, plug-ins and add-ons for the website, or simply by linking to or friending the library. Web 2.0 tools can be extremely effective in getting across the concept of the library as a source of information, which may be the most basic, and also the most challenging, problem of information literacy to tackle.
The emergence of digital media and Web 2.0 applications presents new areas for librarians’ expertise. Information literacy will increasingly involve authenticating the information available on the internet. Search engines such as Google and Yahoo are sufficient for casual exploration; however, “the ease of these searches may lull users into forgetting that you can't always believe what you find on the Internet.” (Credible Information: UA Libraries' Trudi Jacobson Teaches Proper Research Methods, 2009)
Patrons searching for accurate information will need assistant locating information and determining its reliability.
Libraries provide databases, such as Wayne State’s ENCORE, as reliable sources of information. Database content “is generally delivered through well-established service channels by publishers, book-houses or subscription agencies.” (Lossau, 2004) For web content, librarians can access library portals, which serve as an entry point to valid websites.
Several examples of portals include:
and Fullerton College Library
No matter how technology evolves, information will always need to be located, identified and evaluated. In order to remain relevent, librarians must possess the skills to assist in this area and be key participants in the process of information literacy.
Badke, W. (2008) “A rationale for information literacy as a credit-bearing discipline” Journal of information literacy, 2(1), http://jil.lboro.ac.uk/ojs/index.php/JIL/article/view/RA-V2-I1-2008-1
Credible Information: UA Libraries' Trudi Jacobson Teaches Proper Research Methods. (2009, February 23). Retrieved March 30, 2009, from University of Albany: http://www.albany.edu/news/campus_news_5586.php
Goodall, Hurley. (2008). Generation Y Reports Greater Library Use Than Older Groups. Retrieved March 22, 2009 from The Wired Campus Web site: http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/article/?id=2635 = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /
Lossau, N. (2004). Search Engine Technology and Digital Libraries. Bielefeld, Germany.
National Forum on Information Literacy. (2009). What is Information Literacy? Retrieved March 13, 2009 from Web site: http://www.infolit.org/index.html
Shapiro, J. (1996) Information Literacy as a Liberal Art. Retrieved March 23,2009 from Web site: http://net.educause.edu/apps/er/review/reviewarticles/31231.html
The Colbert Report. (2006). Wikiality. Retrieved March 25, 2009 from Web site: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/72347/july-31-2006/the-word---wikiality= o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />