The Road to Information Literacy
Information literacy is a concern in the information age and a life journey one has to take (Agosto, 2005). The American Library Association’s (ALA) Presidential Committee on Information Literacy Final Report stated “a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” Even though most people acquire enough knowledge to survive the day, but almost everybody should be information literate. Information literacy is important because of the overall advancement in knowledge, and the need to synthesize knowledge to generate new solution to emergent problems.
One should ask himself what he knows in general. Can the person assess the surrounding situation then realize the need for specific information to decide on it. Assessment and information needs should not be related to difficulty or emergency. Daily routines require updated information to live it up. Within very short period, important information can lose its value. Furthermore, the same valuable information can turn harmful after a short period. Stock market broker value each company’s shares according to its performance and other related information. The same informant might be misleading, if not harmful, if used to decide on buying the same company’s shares after six months.
Most of the people rely on the immediate and easy information resources like television, newspaper and people around them. Choosing the wrong information source or neglecting information in totality can lead to shocking results. Hock Deshler (2003) report:
In the USA, more than 5 million high-scholars do not read well enough to understand their textbooks or other material written for their grade level. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 26% of these students cannot read material many of us would believe essential for daily living, such as road signs, newspapers, and bus schedules. (p.67)
Libraries are considered one of the best sources for learners, however, student shy away from them. An experiment was conducted by Jacob & Heisel (2008) that required the librarian to co-teach students in Oxford College. The results of the study showed this kind of librarian involvement changed the students’ way of thinking and improved their knowledge skills. Zabel (2004) confirms the importance of libraries but object forcing students to visit libraries. Zable (2004) recommends that librarians should persist in helping students in their academic needs without pushing the teacher to mandate the library use.
The development in the information technology helped boost the literacy progress. The use of internet and its availability made information sharing instantaneous. The internet gave access, of many libraries and databases, to people around the globe. Information seekers can tap into these resources all day throughout the week. The disadvantaged population, which does not have inexpensive access to the information technology, depends heavily on the printed material. The underprivileged countries should facilitate the information technology to its population as a replacement to the traditional information sources like television and radio. With the internet availability, this population can have access to distant and E-leaning sources (Gulati, 2008).
The internet provides homogenized databases to international users around the world. The users access the same databases and reach conclusions similar to their peers in a different country. Powerful and easy to use software like International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) helped globalizing sociology. The software uses comprehensive database that gives international information to international users. Students who use the software will be exposed to social information beyond their home country (Lauer & Yodanis, 2004). Such program is powerful information literacy tool since it provides unified information to different users around the world. The same information can be discussed, analyzed and shared internationally.
Watkins (2007) acknowledges the internet importance and ease of access; however, Watkines (2007) warns that many students are now dependent on the digital databases available in the internet. These students are neglecting the libraries in favor of the internet. The shift in information source preference might be admired by some. However, these preferences lure students to neglect screening information for reliability and credibility. Credible books, scientific journals and government official publications are seen to be complicated or hard to read. Coatney (2007) complains that students want their information in digital form and they want it fast without examining its credibility.
Information literacy is becoming a necessity to cope with the emergent and changing information. Students should update their knowledge often by utilizing the multiple information sources available for them. Libraries are reliable source of information but they are losing their place as the preferred source of information. Students and professionals are looking for the internet as the primary source of information. Electronic databases and online libraries are available at anytime of the day and can be accessed from different locations around the word. They supply integrated information to multiple international users at their convenient locations.
Internet is a powerful tool in the information literacy domain. However, careless users may use unaccredited information from the general sources of the internet. Students lured to the unaccredited information because of its availability and easy access. Behavior like this will lead to information illiteracy and abundance of reliable information sources like the libraries.
Agosto, D. (2005, July). Information literacy: essential skills for the information age. Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology, 56(9), 1008-1009. Retrieved October 11, 2008, from EBSCOhost database.
Coatney, S. (2007, April). Change happens. Teacher Librarian, 34(4), 60-60. Retrieved October 11, 2008, from MasterFILE Premier database.
Gulati, S. (2008, April). Technology-enhanced learning in developing nations: A review. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 9(1), 1-16. Retrieved October 11, 2008, from Education Research Complete database.
Hock, M., & Deshler, D. (2003, December). No child leaves behind teen reading proficiency. Education Digest, 69(4), 27-35. Retrieved October 11, 2008, from MasterFILE Premier database.
Jacob, N., & Heisel, A. (2008, March). A faculty-librarian partnership for investigative learning in the introductory biology laboratory. Journal of College Science Teaching, 37(4), 54-59. Retrieved October 11, 2008, from Professional Development Collection database.
Lauer, S., & Yodanis, C. (2004, July). The international social survey programme (ISSP): a tool for teaching with an international perspective. Teaching Sociology, 32(3), 304-313. Retrieved October 11, 2008, from SocINDEX with Full Text database.
Presidential committee on information literacy: Final report. (1989, January 10). Retrieved October 11, 2008 from http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlpubs/whitepapers/presidential.htm
Watkins, R. (2007). Is google making us dumber? Distance Learning, 4(3), 85-86. Retrieved October 12, 2008, from Research Library database.
Zabel, D. (2004, January). A Reaction to information literacy and higher education. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 30(1), 17-21. Retrieved October 11, 2008, from Academic Search Complete database.