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Information Literacy: Why do Information Literacy?

Information literacy, wrote Dr. Carol Kulthau in her 1987 paper “Information Skills for an Information Society,” is “the ability to read and to use information essential for everyday life”—that is, to effectively navigate a world built on “complex masses of information generated by computers and mass media.”

Why do Information Literacy?

Why is information literacy important?

In this Information Age, when the expansion of available information is proceeding at an unprecedented rate, clear concepts of how to access and evaluate this information are essential. National organizations, including the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and a growing number of the regional accreditation associations are grappling with the issue of ensuring that our graduates are information literate.

When citizens fail to understand how information is organized and accessed, they lose the freedom to seek and critically analyze information for themselves, the freedom to make personally informed decisions on political and social issues, and the freedom to make an enlightened contribution to the body of human knowledge. In this context, information literacy as a set of skills is much more than how to search the Internet or use the latest Microsoft product. Information literacy rises to the level of possessing a worldview that acknowledges that there is a wealth of information available and that an educated citizen should possess the ability to harness it to enhance his or her own life and the lives of those around them.

Information literacy is also important in order...

  •         to empower students to learn for themselves.
  •         to enable informed decision-making.
  •         to equip students for success in their careers.
  •         to meet needs of employers for information literate employees.
  •         to promote the creation of self-sufficient researchers.
  •         to encourage the careful evaluation of information sources for bias and inaccuracy.
  •         to help students deal with information overload.
  •         to offer strategies for using Google with discernment and for evaluating online information.
  •         to meet NEASC standards.
  •         to support the College mission.
  •         to meet College strategic plan objectives

adapted from McKillop Library | Salve Regina University

From AAC&U - The Information Literacy Imperative in Higher Education

From the Chronicle of Higher Education - At Sea in a Deluge of Data

This new study reveals a gap between the searching, research & comprehension skills expected by employers and what newly graduated employees deliver:

“Many employers said their fresh-from-college hires frequently lack deeper and more traditional skills in research and analysis. Instead, the new workers default to quick answers plucked from the Internet.”

The author posits that a new curriculum blending search techniques, statistical analysis, and knowledge of major research institutes & the scientific method will be needed to effectively teach students how to synthesize and support their research, both in the classroom and on the job.

From Project Information Literacy

How do first year college students make the critical information transition from high school to college? How do they begin to conduct college-level research? During the 2012-13 academic year, the PIL research team conducted interviews with 35 freshmen from six U.S. colleges and universities. Read the research report (48 pages, 6.2MB). Watch the preview video (2:40 minutes)


AAC&U logoDefinition

The ability to know when there is a need for information, to be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively and responsibly use and share that information for the problem at hand. - Adopted from the National Forum on Information Literacy -- from the AAC&U website

NEASC Standards

NEASC logoNew England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Standards

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) standards specify that graduates of New England higher education institutions should demonstrate information literacy competency including the capability for life-long learning. (See standards below)


4.12 Expectations for student achievement, independent learning, information literacy, skills in inquiry, and critical judgment are appropriate to the subject matter and degree level and in keeping with generally accepted practice.

4.15 Graduates successfully completing an undergraduate program demonstrate competence in written and oral communication in English; the ability for scientific and quantitative reasoning, for critical analysis and logical thinking; and the capability for continuing learning, including the skills of information literacy. They also demonstrate knowledge and understanding of scientific, historical, and social phenomena,and a knowledge and appreciation of the aesthetic and ethical dimensions of humankind.


Adapted from Information Literacy for Faculty by King's College