‘Information Literacy’ – a core competency for the 21st century library

Terry O’Brien Deputy Librarian, WIT Libraries Member of LAI NWGIL tpobrien@wit.ie

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Information Literacy (IL) – a brief overview Working Group on Information Literacy (WGIL) – work to date

Information Literacy
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Background What is Information Literacy Why do we need Information Literacy IL activity Some challenges and issues

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Relatively new concept Ridgeway (1990) – “hot topic” Snavely & Cooper (“The IL Debate”, JAL:1997) “Fad”, “trendy phase”, “slippery” Use of term – recommended, embraced? Literature reviews: - Rader (Library Trends:2002) - Virkus (Information Research:2003)

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The skills necessary to locate, access, and use information in today’s society Information literacy is a natural extension of the concept of literacy in our information society, and information literacy education is the catalyst required to transform the information society of today into the learning society of tomorrow. (Bruce, 2004) Transferable skill Promotes and supports independent learning Lifelong learning Ethical use of information

What is Information Literacy

“The set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information.“ (ACRL, 2006) "To be information literate, a person must be able to recognise when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." (American Library Association, 1998)

"Information literacy is an understanding and set of abilities enabling individuals to 'recognise when information is needed and have the capacity to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information'." (CAUL, 2004) 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. (CILIP)

IL potentially involves, inter alia
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Learning outcomes and frameworks Access, Locate, Evaluate Critical thinking Ethics, Referencing, Copyright, Plagiarism – turnitin Ethos – INTEGRATED approach throughout library functions

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Moving towards ‘corporate literacy’ Expertise Multiple formats Accreditation Embedding Blended learning Uncertainty Core library competency

Why do we need IL
“ .. skills of critical thinking, research and evaluation are increasingly required to make sense of the world”. (Horizon Report, UK, 2007)

Why do we need to do IL
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Relevance General literacy skill levels poor Information overload, data smog, information anxiety – Google generation. information=web Transferable skills, employable skills Information literate citizens User-created content – “cult of the amateur” – needed more than ever – evaluation and critical thinking skills

IL activity
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Literature - widespread Topical - “Information literacy is receiving increasing attention worldwide” (Webber, 2007) “cause” (Hollister, 2007) Core feature of what libraries do Design, write and deliver programmes Pilots / Academic champions Online tutorials / VLEs / 1-2-1 / classroom style etc./ Drop-in’s

Some challenges
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Web 2.0 – “carve out their own information landscapes” (Godwin, 2007) Semesterisation Internationalisation Technology – e.g.VLE’s MetaSearching Library Staff Academic Staff

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Expectations Integration Compulsion Pedagogy, teaching skills Literacy – poor skills, post 2nd level Assessment / accreditation Role definition, payment Sole property of librarians?

Working Group on Information Literacy (WGIL)
Part II
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Raison d’etre Terms of reference of the group Composition of the group Work to date Where we are at the moment

Why is there a WGIL?

LAI AGM proposed by Exec. board
“that this AGM calls ..adopt a standard for Information skills; lobby to ensure government is made aware of the need for and the value of Information skills; lobby government to recognise and affirm the role of Libraries in the delivery of maintenance of Information skills”

Recognition of importance of IL in independent learning, as a transferable skill, to lifelong learning etc. Established Jan. 2006

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Call to all sectors.Open to LAI members Membership (10) – Academic & Special, Schools, Public, Health, University,DepLIS – UCD. Practitioners Cross-sectoral key objective. Recognise Diversity, common goal. An LAI group Establish role – “to recommend strategies for the development of information skills at both a theoretical and practical level in LIS sector in Ireland”.

Role cont.
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Generate recommendations Examine international best practice and standards Produce sectoral-based report based on current IL activity Raise awareness, heighten profile ADVOCACY Seminar / Conference

Terms of reference

To recommend appropriate guidelines for the practical development of information skills education ..strategies for promoting and raising awareness ..further development opportunities for research and action ..actions for strategic positioning of information skills in context of lifelong learning on government agenda

Work to date
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Met quarterly (7) Finalised membership of group and clarified objectives Reviewed definitions – recommend adoption of CILIP (2004) as a working definition Reviewed standards for developing programmes. Recommend adoption of ANZIIL IL framework (2004) Practicality and flexibility

Dissemination and advocacy
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Presentation to Exec Board LAI Sought formal recognition from LAI LAI website content e-Leabharlann Attendance at IL seminar DCU (2006) Attendance at LILAC (2007) Manchester, UK – present at 2008? Presentation from Ellen Breen (DCU) on behalf of CONUL Article on SCONUL Focus (in press) NDLR – ANTLC - InfoTeach wiki - RLO’s

Where from now
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Guidelines and template established for sectoral report – work ongoing National seminar (LAI / CONUL?) Develop database of relevant IL stakeholders Continued advocacy and awareness raising Full group status; affiliate to UK and International Groups, CONUL Support for further research Formally present report / recommendations end of 2007

Some further research …
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CONUL Information Literacy section CILIP IL sub-group (CSG) IFLA IL Resources Directory SCONUL on IL SCONUL Seven Pillars IL website (UK groups) American Library Association on IL JISC i-Skills

Australian & New Zealand Institute for Informatio

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Also worth a look: (Online) journals, conferences, blogs,authors

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Journal of Information Literacy Communications in Information Literacy LILAC (UK) Michael Lorenzen Blog Peter Godwin Blog Information Literacy Weblog Susie Andretta, Bill & Sheila Weber, Christina Bruce, Peter Godwin, Ross Todd. Library and Information Update LIFESTEPS

Thank you for your attention
Terry O’Brien, Deputy Librarian Luke Wadding Library WIT Libraries 051-302845 tpobrien@wit.ie


“Information literacy isn't just about finding information; it is a true catalyst for educational change. It enables independent lifelong learning” (From Information Literacy : recognising the need, Conference Proceedings. ‘Recognising the need’ -Walton & Pope (Chandos, 2006)