Saturday, January 11, 2014

Information Literacy: Definition, Objectives and Importance P- 11. Library Use and User Studies By :achandel a

इस ब्लॉग्स को सृजन करने में आप सभी से सादर सुझाव आमंत्रित हैं , कृपया अपने सुझाव और प्रविष्टियाँ प्रेषित करे , इसका संपूर्ण कार्य क्षेत्र विश्व ज्ञान समुदाय हैं , जो सभी प्रतियोगियों के कॅरिअर निर्माण महत्त्वपूर्ण योगदान देगा ,आप अपने सुझाव इस मेल पत्ते पर भेज सकते हैं -

Information Literacy: Definition, Objectives and Importance

P- 11. Library Use and User Studies

By :achandel a

1. Introduction

The term information literacy first appeared in print in a 1974 report by Paul G. Zurkowski. It was written on behalf of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science. Zurkowski  used the phrase to describe the "techniques and skills" known by the information literate "for utilizing the wide range of information tools as well as primary sources in finding  information solutions to their problems (Zurkowaski, 1974).

Information literacy has been known by many different names: library orientation; bibliographic instruction; user education; information skills training. There is considerable degree of overlapping in the meaning of these terms.  Library orientation concentrates on how to make optimum use of   library resources; and bibliographic instruction and user education focuses on the mechanics of using particular resources.  Information skills training and finally information literacy concentrates on cognitive and transferable skills, such as problem solving, evaluation and communication skills. We often confuse information literacy with information management. Many associate it with accessing online information. There are people who associate information literacy with library & research skills. In general, the information literacy in the layman’s language is the ability to find, understand, evaluate and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purpose.

2. Definition

The United States National Forum on Information Literacy defines information literacy 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.” Other definitions incorporate aspects of "skepticism, judgment, free thinking, questioning, and understanding..." or incorporate competencies that an informed citizen of an information society ought to possess to participate intelligently and actively in that society.

In UK, information literacy is defined by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals as: “Information literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner.”

ALA defined  information literacy as “set of abilities that enables an individual to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to effectively locate, evaluate and use the needed information.”

According to ACRL, Information Literacy is the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyse and use information. Shapiro and Hughes (1996) have defined information literacy as “… a new liberal art that extends from knowing how to use information to critical reflection on the nature of information itself, its technical infrastructure, and its social, cultural and even philosophical context and impact.”

2.1 What does it mean to be Information Literate?

  • Becoming a lifelong learner

  • Using the library effectively

  • Understanding what you read

  • Using information wisely

  • Organising resources

  •   Developing ideas

  •  Using IT

  •  Knowing where to look

  • Interpreting, summarizing

  • Understanding how information works.

Further definitions have expanded on the theme, broadening the scope “ address issues or problems at hand that face individuals, communities, and nation” (Thompson, 2003, p3); “...knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner” (CILIP, 2004).

Early definitions of Information literacy has led to the identification of a list of attributes or competencies an information literate person is supposed to exhibit, for example an information literate individual requires an understanding of:

  • A need for information
  • The resources available
  • How to find information
  • The need to evaluate results
  • How to work with or exploit results
  • Ethics and responsibility of use
  • How to communicate or share findings
How to manage findings.

3. Concept

A number of efforts have been made to  define the concept of information literacy and its relationship to other skills and forms of literacy. Although other educational goals, including traditional literacy, computer literacy,library skills, and critical thinkingskills, are related to information literacy and important foundations for its development, information literacy itself is emerging as a distinct skill set and a necessary key to one's social and economic well-being in an increasingly complexinformation society.

Shapiro and Hughes (1996) outlined a "prototype curriculum " that encompassed the concepts of computer literacy, library skills, and "a broader, critical conception of a more humanistic sort", suggesting seven important components of a holistic approach to information literacy:
  • Tool literacy, or the ability to understand and use the practical and conceptual tools of current information technology relevant to education and the areas of work and professional life that the individual expects to inhabit.
  • Resource literacy, or the ability to understand the form, format, location and access methods of information resources, especially daily expanding networked information resources.
  • Social-structural literacy, or understanding how information is socially situated and produced.
  • Research literacy, or the ability to understand and use the IT-based tools relevant to the work of today's researcher and scholar.
  • Publishing literacy, or the ability to format and publish research and ideas electronically, in textual and multimedia forms ... to introduce them into the electronic public realm and the electronic community of scholars.
  • Emerging technology literacy, or the ability to continuously adapt to, understand, evaluate and make use of the continually emerging innovations in information technology so as not to be a prisoner of prior tools and resources, and to make intelligent decisions about the adoption of new ones.
  • Critical literacy, or the ability to evaluate critically the intellectual, human and social strengths and weaknesses, potentials and limits, benefits and costs of information technologies.

There are diverse views as to what constitutes information literacy, scholars have tried to explain information literacy in terms of certain competencies as  evident from the diagram given below.
Alternate Text
The scholars have tried to describe the concept of Information Literacy in terms of the following:
  • Finding information conception – with an emphasis on gathering information, mainly facts, using technology and the  library, and the need for  students to be able to navigate different sources, such as websites, books, the library.

  • Linguistic understanding conception – basic comprehension of textual or verbal information, including instructions for a particular activity, relying to an extent on general knowledge and prior experiences in similar activities.

  • Making meaning conception – cognitive processes, for example summarising, synthesising, interpreting, decision-making, which make sense of, or derive meaning from, information in different sources and formats within the context of the specific subject under consideration.

  • Skills conception – practical ability to apply effectively a wide variety of skills, techniques and strategies required for handling information, including traditional library and information skills and more cognitive skills required for making meaning and evaluating and reflecting on decisions.

  • Critical awareness of sources conception – focusing on the need to evaluate sources, recognise bias, determine the quality of the information and check the authority of a website.

Independent learning conception – the ability to confidently make decisions in order to assess, select and apply relevant skills and strategies for current purpose in and in a variety of situations, in order to learning independently, with less reliance on teacher input.

4. Objectives of Information Literacy

The main objectives of information literacy programme is to make the individual proficient in the optimum, effective and judicious use of information for not only enhancing the understanding but productive utilization of information resources. In other words the main focus is on making the people information literate through the infusion of information literacy skills.

5. Importance

Research shows that people evaluate more effectively if causes are revealed, where available.  Such initiatives would  help people become more information literate. As a society, we must critically evaluate information to establish a public demand for high information quality.

 Information literacy skills are vital because :
  • Information literacy skills must be taught in the context of the overall process.
  • Instruction in information literacy skills must be integrated into the curriculum and reinforced both within and outside of the educational setting.

Now the information literacy has become a part of the core curriculum in many universities particularly in developed countries. The information overload and the need to search and retrieve correct and reliable information from different sources and channels compels the people to be information literate. This calls for information literacy programmes in the form of courses or training to be imparted to people by different agencies including libraries. The information literacy skills are to be developed to make the people information literate.
In the present digital age, the users need to be more information literate than before. Though Internet is expected to contains valid and accurate information, its very nature encourages quick and easy self publication without any review, content is also of low quality and there is need for the user to be able to recognize and access authentic and useful resources. There is a need to be able to analyse and evaluate information sources, retrieve for value, relevance, quality and suitability. The information literacy helps the individual to acquire and develop the skills. The skills of critical thinking, research and evaluation are increasingly required to make sense of the world.

Sources Consulted:

  1. Ferguson, Brian. Information literacy: A primer for teachers, librarians and other informed people. A free e-book.
  2. ALA. Information literacy: A position paper on information problem solving. Wisconsin: Wisconsin Educational Media Association, 2000.
  3. ALA Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report. Chicago: ALA, 1989.
  4. Braden, R. A. and Hortin J. A. Identifying the theoretical foundation of visual literacy. Journal of Visual/Verbal Languaging 2 (1982): 37-42
  5. Doyle, S. C.. Information literacy in an information society: A concept for information age. Syracuse, NY: ERIC, 1994.
  6. Gaunt, J.  et al. Handbook for information literacy teaching. Cardiff: Cardiff University, 2007
  7. Horton, F. W. Understanding information literacy: A primer. Paris: Unesco, 2008.
  8. Lau, J. International guidelines on information literacy. IFLA, 2004.
  9. Rader, H B.  Information literacy: A revolution in the library. RQ, 31, no.1 (1991): 25-28.
  10. Rockman, I. F. Integrating information literacy into the higher education curriculum: practical models for transformation. San Fransisco: John Wiley, 2004.
  11.  Shapiro, Jeremy J and Hughes, Shelley K. Information literacy as a liberal art: Enlightenment proposals for a new curriculum. http//
  12. Spitzer, K. L. et al. Information literacy: essential skills for the information age. Syracuse: ERIC Clearing House, 1998.
  13. Zurowaski, Paul G. The  information service environment: relationships and priorities.National Commission on Libraries and Information Services

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