There are many different definitions of information literacy, but perhaps the best succinct and comprehensive definition is:
Standard One: The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.
Standard Two: The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.
Standard Three: The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.
Standard Four: The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.
Standard Five: The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.
Information Literacy: Past and Present
The idea of resource-based education is well-established and librarians have been involved in teaching the effective use of information resources for over a century. In the past, information literacy has also been labeled as library instruction, bibliographic instruction and library skills. Information literacy now exists alongside other important literacies in today's society, such as media literacy, computer literacy and visual literacy.
Clarifying The Term
The terms resource-based education, bibliographic instruction, library instruction, computer literacy, and others will often be used in conjunction with the term 'information literacy'. Information literacy includes both a set of generic skills and concepts as well as skills and concepts which are specific to certain disciplines and subject areas.
Information literacy programs take two forms --separate courses (for credit or non-credit) or activities integrated into general education courses and/or courses in major fields of study. More informal, co-curricular (outside of class) programs can also encourage students' development of information literacy skills.
To be successfully implemented on campus, information literacy depends on collaboration between classroom faculty, academic administrators, librarians and other information professionals. In order to effectively implement a program all parties must be actively involved.
Leadership of Administrators
Information literacy programs require the leadership and support of academic administrators. Such leadership is not limited to budgetary support. It also includes helping create a supportive atmosphere and practical opportunities for cooperation among librarians, classroom faculty and information technologists. Effective leadership should promote a vision of liberal education as an empowering and transforming endeavor that develops students as skilled independent learners.
The Role of the Librarian
Librarians are deeply involved in addressing the issues associated with developing information literacy programs and national and regional efforts to improve program quality. For more information, visit Information Literacy in Action.
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