Information Literacy is a key skill and competency for modern life and society. It can help us understand and navigate today's complex information landscape. Therefore, let's formally define this important concept and explore some of the key parts of this definition.
Information Literacy Defined
Information Literacy is the set of skills needed to recognize what information is needed and evaluate, find, and use information effectively and responsibly.
The Four Parts of Information Literacy
1. The ability to recognize what information is needed:
A popular saying by scientist and writer Carl Sagan is "great claims require great evidence". People cannot simply make up their own facts about reality and the way the world operates. Claims of truth must be backed by factual evidence. The more complex a topic, the more sources of information are typically required to fully understand it. Knowing what information you need is a critical competency.
When completing essay assignments, a professor typically specifies how many research resources are needed for the particular assignment. Because of the complex nature of academic research, several sources are often required.
2. The ability to evaluate information:
While it is true that a great deal of information exists, not all of this information can be considered good. In fact, some information can be false, misleading, or even outright lies. What makes matters worse is when this misleading information is made to appear genuine, functioning like land mines on one's path to truth. Therefore, being able to identify reliable information resources from false or misleading information resource is absolutely vital.
3. The ability to find information:
In order to utilize information, you must first be able to find it. Information can exist in a variety of forms, whether it be a printed book, an online web page, or even a speech or conversation. Being able to effectively search for and find the information you need is critical.
4. The ability to use information effectively and responsibly:
Information is not merely to be gathered, collected and forgotten, but used and utilized. Information can be critical to constructing valid claims or arguments in essays or papers, making informed decisions, and expanding one's own world view. Knowing how to use information is a valuable skill. When using information, it is vital to be responsible in your information usage by crediting resources where needed and avoiding plagiarism.
Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. (2006, September 1). Retrieved August 31, 2014, from Association of College & Research Libraries website: http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency. doi:(efeb57df-7090-e1d4-558f-d59c7537f9c7)