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Information Literacy

1. Introduction: An information literate person is able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. The information literacy means learning how to continuously learn and remain relevant in the constantly changing information environment. The ability to access, retrieve, and evaluate information constitute a significant part of today’s definition of information literacy. Information literacy means an integrated set of skills pertaining to research strategy and evaluation, knowledge of tools and resources to arrive at the required information, acquisition of attitudes relating to persistence and the caution in accepting any sources of information and a single source to arrive at a conclusion.

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.”
Hannelore B. Rader (1991), expanding on the ALA definition, cites information literacy as:
“understanding the processes and systems for acquiring current and retrospective information, such as systems and services for information identification and delivery”;
“the ability to evaluate the effectiveness and reliability of various information channels and sources, including libraries, for various kinds of information needs”;
“mastering certain basic skills in acquiring and storing one’s own information in such areas as databases, spreadsheets, and word and information processing.”
Christina S. Doyle (1992), drawing on an expert panel provided the following list of attributes:
“An information literate person is one who:
• recognises the need for information
• recognises that accurate and complete information is the basis for intelligent decision making
• identifies potential sources of information
• develops successful search strategies
• accesses sources of information, including computer-based and other technologies
• evaluates information
• organises information for practical application
• integrates new information into an existing body of knowledge
• uses information in critical thinking and problem solving”.

3. History of Information Literacy: The phrase 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 molding information solutions to their problems”.
The Presidential Committee on Information Literacy was formed in 1987 by the American Library Association's president at the time Margaret Chisholm. The Presidential Committee on Information Literacy released a report on January 10, 1989, outlining the importance of information literacy, opportunities to develop information literacy, and an Information Age School. The report's final name is the Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report.
The recommendations of the Presidential Committee led to the creation of the National Forum on Information Literacy, a coalition of more than 90 national and international organizations in 1990.
In 1998, the American Association of School Librarians and the Association for Educational Communications and Technology published Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning, which further established specific goals for information literacy education, defining some nine standards in the categories of information literacy, independent learning, and social responsibility.
In the publication Information power: Building partnerships for learning [American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), 1998], three categories, nine standards, and twenty-nine indicators are used to describe the information literate student.
In 1999, the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) in the UK, published The Seven Pillars of Information Literacy model to facilitate further development of ideas amongst practitioners in the field.
In 2003, the National Forum on Information Literacy, together with UNESCO and the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, sponsored an international conference in Prague with representatives from some twenty-three countries to discuss the importance of information literacy within a global context. The resulting Prague Declaration described information literacy as a “key to social, cultural, and economic development of nations and communities, institutions and individuals in the 21st century” and declared its acquisition as “part of the basic human right of lifelong learning”.
The International Alliance for Information Literacy (IAIL) was created from the recommendation of the Prague Conference of Information Literacy Experts in 2003.
Information literacy rose to national consciousness in the U.S. with President Barack Obama's Proclamation designating October 2009 as National Information Literacy Awareness Month. President Obama’s Proclamation stated that “Rather than merely possessing data, we must also learn the skills necessary to acquire, collate, and evaluate information for any situation. Though we may know how to find the information we need, we must also know how to evaluate it. Over the past decade, we have seen a crisis of authenticity emerge”.
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has established an Information Literacy Section. The Section has, in turn, developed and mounted an Information Literacy Resources Directory, called InfoLit Global.

4. Aims of Information Literacy Programmes: So what are the skills which are developed from the information literacy programmes?
Marland presents his taxonomy of information skills proposed for secondary school use upon which others have developed similar models:
i) What do I need to do? (formulation and analysis of need)
ii) Where could I go? (identification and appraisal of likely sources)
iii) How do I get to the information? (tracing and locating individual resources)
iv) Which sources shall I use? (examining, selecting and rejecting individual resources)
v) How shall I use the resources? (interrogating resources)
vi) What should I make a record of? (recording and storing information)
vii) Have I got the information I need? (interpretation, analysis, synthesis, evaluation)
viii) How should I present it? (presentation, communication, shape)
ix) What have I achieved? (evaluation)
The information literacy aimed at making a person lifelong learner and self sufficient in respect to information location. The introduction of technology into teaching, changes in scholarly communication patterns, the increasing variety of media, more demanding students requiring services to be available as, when and where they want them, all require that librarians ensure, even more than ever, that they are user-focused, user-friendly, and able to assist users to gain information literacy skills which will enable them to be to a greater degree self- sufficient.

5. Facilities Needed: The instruction room should have computer, overhead projector, internet connection for alternative teaching technique. The librarian should have subject knowledge to give the student curriculum based instruction and should collaborate with the teachers as well as computer faculties.
a) Library Website: The library webpage should use as a launch point to students to the library services, materials and policies. The computer faculty can be used to teach basic about windows, Internet searching, E-Mail, Chatting, Browsing.
b) Web Guides: A specialized web guide should be developed to create a well define and manageable set of internet resources on each subject. And introduction with the major search engines and e-mail service provider. The subject based internet resources should be re-evaluated each year before admission to the new courses.
The librarian should direct to scholarly sources, evaluating information that are available on the web. The LIS faculty can be used in teaching how to cite the reference. The librarian should cite both the general and subject specific web guides that augment general instruction programme.

6. Curriculum of Information Literacy: In Information Literacy as a Liberal Art, Jeremy J. Shapiro and Shelley K. Hughes advocated a more holistic approach to information literacy education. Shapiro and Hughes 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:
i) 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.
ii) Resource literacy, or the ability to understand the form, format, location and access methods of information resources, especially daily expanding networked information resources.
iii) Social-structural literacy, or understanding how information is socially situated and produced.
iv) Research literacy, or the ability to understand and use the IT-based tools relevant to the work of today's researcher and scholar.
v) 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.
vi) 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.
vii) 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.

7. Information Literacy Models: There are a number of information literacy models developed by the different organizations and individuals.
a) Big6: Big6 is developed by Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz. The Big6 is the most widely known and widely used approach to teaching information and technology skills in the world. Big6 is a six-stage model to help anyone solve problems or make decisions by using information. The component of the Big6 mode includes Need Understand, Locating, Selecting/Analyzing, Organizing/Synthesizing, Creating/Presenting and Evaluating.
b) 8Ws Model: The 8Ws Model was developed by Annette Lamb in the early 1990s.  According to this model the learning is student centered. Through the 8Ws Model students choose what information they want to investigate.  They are motivated from the very beginning. They wonder and question.  Throughout the inquiry process, the students are problem solving to find answers to their questions about a topic.  They are also learning literacy skills that will help them navigate in our modern society. The 8Ws model consists of Watching (Exploring), Wondering (Questioning), Webbing (Searching), Wiggling (Evaluating), Weaving (Synthesizing), Wrapping (Creating), Waving (Communicating) and Wishing (Assessing).
c) The Research Cycle:  The Research Cycle created by Jamie McKenzie. It puts students in the role of information producers. The Research Cycle requires that students make up their own minds, create their own answers and show independence and judgment. Because students are actively revising and rethinking their research questions and plans throughout the process, they are forced to cycle back repeatedly through the stages of Questioning, Planning, Gathering, Sorting & sifting, Synthesizing, Evaluating, Reporting  so that the more skill they develop, the less linear the process. It teaches teams of students to move repeatedly through each of the steps of the Research Cycle. The Reporting comes after several repetitions of the cycle create sufficient Insight.
d) The Alberta Model for Teaching the Research Process: There are many process-based models of library instruction. This model was developed by the provincial ministry of education, Alberta Education. The foundation for that was laid down in Alberta Education policy in the 1985: Students in Alberta schools should have access to an effective school library program integrated with instructional programs to provide improved opportunities for student achievement of the Goals of Basic Education for Alberta.
e) PLUS Model: PLUS is an information literacy model which seeks to provide school students with a positively named tool or scaffold which will help them to improve their own learning by making them more information literate. PLUS incorporates the elements of Purpose, Location, Use and Self-evaluation and it was developed by James E. Herring in 1991 at Scotland.
f) DIALOGUE Model: DIALOGUE Model is developed by the Information Network for Ohio (INFOhio) Schools in Cuyahoga County in 1998. The DIALOGUE model involves the Define, Initiate, Assess, Locate, Organize, Guide, Use and Evaluate. INFOhio is a state-wide cooperative project to create an electronic network linking of Ohio students, teachers, library/media specialists and others. It is responsible for incorporating 21st century literacy and learning skills to encourage all students to reach their full potential in today’s technologically advanced society. DIALOGUE model is developed and used by them to develop information skills among the students, educators and parents.
g) SCONUL the Seven Pillars of Information Literacy Model: In 1999, the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) in the UK, published “The Seven Pillars of Information Literacy” model to facilitate further development of ideas amongst practitioners in the field. Since then, this model has been adopted by librarians and teachers around the world as a means of helping them to deliver information literacy skills to their learners. To make valid and relevant in the presenting changing information environment, SCONUL updated the original seven pillars model into a new model called as “The SCONUL Seven Pillars Information Literacy: Core Model” in 2011. The SCONUL seven pillars of information literacy model comprises of Identify, Scope, Plan, Gather, Evaluate, Manage and Present.
h) Empowering 8 IL Model: EMPOWERING-8 information literacy model has been developed at an IFLA-ALP sponsored Information Literacy Workshop hosted by National Institute of Library and Information Sciences (NILIS), University of Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2004 specifically for the stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific Region. This model can be used to solve any information problem effectively using eight stages with several sub-stages under each component. It’s not necessary to complete these stages in a linear order, but one can enter the cycle from any point and proceed in a cyclical manner. However, one is taken through all stages in a successful information problem solving situation. EMPOWERING-8 comprises of Identify, Explore, Select, Organize, Create, Present, Assess and Apply.

8. Barriers of Information Literacy: The main barriers of information literacy programme are as follows
a) Librarians’ Attitude: One is tempted to wonder whether some librarians are loathe passing on the skills which they have in high order, fearing that they will be seen as redundant if they do so.
b) Teachers Shift: The teachers should move from being “disseminators of information in the classroom” to being “facilitators who empower students to become autonomous learners through resource-based learning outside of the classroom.”
c) Users Attitude: Users attitude to turn away from being passive and dependent learners and become active and independent learners.
d) False Time Constrain: While time is frequently given as a reason for not developing information literacy skills the time invested in acquiring these skills has a high return value for both the users and the information professionals communicating those skills.
e) Lack of Knowledge: Some librarians by virtue of not being a qualified person are not aware of the concept of information literacy and the modern techniques to deal with it. They are even not feeling motivated to attend the seminars and conferences on information literacy. These groups of professionals creating problem in spreading the knowledge about information literacy. The administrators such as principal and governing body of the institute are also not aware of the library facilities and what role it can play towards spreading the knowledge of information literacy.

9. Conclusion: Information literacy means knowledge about the information sources, the skills to arrive at the required information and its evaluation. The library literacy is a sub-set of information literacy as because libraries are not the only information and knowledge resources available. Library literacy tends to focus on the ways of locating information or the instrumental aspects of retrieval of information from the library. They do not usually cover the broader contextual elements and the higher-level analytical skills necessary to effectively mine and utilize information in a manner which will withstand appropriate scrutiny.

How to Cite this Article?
APA Citation, 7th Ed.:  Barman, B. (2020). A comprehensive book on Library and Information Science. New Publications.
Chicago 16th Ed.:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. Guwahati: New Publications, 2020.
MLA Citation 8th Ed:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. New Publications, 2020.

Badan BarmanDr. Badan Barman at present working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science, Gauhati University, Guwahati-781014, Assam, India. He is the creator of the LIS Links ( - India’s most popular social networking website for Library and Information Science professionals. He also created the Open Access Journals Search Engine (OAJSE) (, UGC NET Guide (, Assam Archive ( and LIS Study ( website.

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