“Information Literacy (IL) is more than just a set of skills.”

“Information Literacy (IL) is more than just a set of skills.” Present an argument for or against this statement drawing upon research and professional literature to support your views.  For this blog task, think about the role of the TL from a practical viewpoint, i.e., how will you make it happen in your school?

Information Literacy (IL) is a difficult term to define. There are numerous research projects into this concept that seems to change with each academic’s personal interpretation. The United States National forum on Information Literacy defines it as “the ability to know when there is a need for information, to be able to identify, locate and evaluate and effectively use that information for the issue or the problem at hand.” (NFIL, 1989)

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) promotes IL as “a thriving national and global culture, economy and democracy will best be advanced by people who are empowered in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals. It is a basic human right in a digital world and promotes social inclusion within a range of cultural contexts.” (ALIA, 2011) This definition is based on the Alexandria Proclamation of 2005, where a Colloquium was held and the summative statement from this was that IL lies at the core of lifelong learning.

The idea that IL is a set of skills presumes that IL involves a straight-forward set of steps and can be taught by teachers or teacher librarians in schools by a standard process. Given that IL is difficult to define and requires higher-order thinking on the part of the student, it seems that IL is more than just a set of skills. Langford (1998) debates the idea that IL could be a concept or a process as well as a set of skills. As we have greater access to information, we need to be more decisive in the information we use and how we use it. Critical thinking skills are more important than ever. We can only teach critical thinking skills to a certain level. We can only show the students a due process. The rest is a process that the student has to go through.

IL seems to be more of a concept than a set of skills. When referring to the skills of deciphering which information is needed and relevant the Teacher Librarian can use any one of a variety of models to teach information literacy skills to students. These models may include Kuhlthau’s ISP, Eisengerg’s The Big 6, Herring’s PLUS model, as well as many others. These models can give students the skills to use the information they have found in their research and skill them for lifelong learning. 

IL is not confined to schools, but applies to the community as a whole. It is not confined to one subject, but should be cross-curricular. This is why in schools it is often the task of the teacher librarian to convey IL to students. Of the twelve Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians, eight of these standards refer to literacy learning and information literacy. (Girolami, 2008) If the purpose of a library is to meet the information needs of the user, then IL is an important part of this purpose. Humans have always been dependent upon information to help them make decisions. Increases in the amount and complexity of information means that IL is the set of skills and knowledge that not only allows us to find, evaluate and use information we need, but more importantly allows us to filter out the information we don’t need. (Eisenberg, 2008) Therefore Information Literacy is more than just a set of skills.

 

References:

ALIA, (2011). Statement on information literacy for all Australians. Retrieved from  http://www.alia.org.au/policies/information.literacy.html

Eisenberg, M. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the information age DESIDOC Journal of Library and Information Technology, Vol. 28, No. 2, March 2008, pp.39-47

Girolami, A. (2008) The role of the teacher librarian in learning and literacy Incite, Vol. 29, No. 5, May 2008, p.12

Langford, L (1998) Informational literacy: A clarification. Retrieved from http://www.fno.org/sept98/clarify.html

National Forum on Information Literacy (NFIL), (1989). What is the NFIL? Retrieved from http://infolit.org/about-the-nfil/what-is-the-nfil/

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