Information Literacy in Digital Age

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Information literacy is a set of learning skills which enables to effectively cope with massive amounts of information, from a variety of media formats, such as books, journals, magazines, newspapers, audiovisual sources, scholarly databases and internet. It empowers individual to acquire life skills, soft skills and vocational skills throughout their life span to take part in their social, cultural, vocational and professional life.


INFORMATION LITERACY IN DIGITAL AGEBy: Miss.Shantashree S.Sengupta, Librarian & Head, Dept. of Library & Information Science, C.T.Bora College, Shirur Dist.Pune, Pin-412210. Maharashtra. ( ) & Miss.Swati R.Modi, Lecturer, Dept. of Library & Information Science, C.T.Bora College, Shirur Dist.Pune, Pin-412210. Maharashtra. ( ) Abstract: Information literacy is a set of learning skills which enables to effectively cope with massive amounts of information, from a variety of media formats, such as books, journals, magazines, newspapers, audiovisual sources, scholarly databases and internet. It empowers individual to acquire life skills, soft skills and vocational skills throughout their life span to take part in their social, cultural, vocational and professional life. INTRODUCTION: The phrase information literacy was first used by Paul G. Zurkowski in a report published in 1974, 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 of the American Library Association declares that to possess information literacy an individual must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. As early as 1989, the ALA identified information literacy as a survival skill in the Information Age. The Information Literacy Standards by ACRL assumes that an in any situation personal or professionalan individual will be able to determine the extent of information needed, access the needed information effectively and efficiently, evaluate information and its sources critically, incorporate selected information into ones knowledge base, use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose, understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally.


Teachers and students are now expected to be information literate and able to conduct research. But many of them do not have the required skills and knowledge to do the required research. In the present era, due to information explosion, the user community easily gets overloaded with data and information. To make sure that the users succeed in searching the information they need, there must be an information literacy program that will teach them these skills. Two teaching faculty members and a reference librarian at the University of Arkansas developed an information literacy program for graduate students. They identified ten significant concepts that students need to learn in order to master information literacy: 1. Focus the topic (narrow the topic / broaden the scope). 2. Work in reverse chronological order, searching the newest information first. 3. Understand the significance of terminology and determine correct subject headings. 4. Vary the sources (use books, periodicals, Internet sites, etc.). 5. Use Boolean strategies (and, or, not) in computer searches. 6. Multiply sources by three (identify three times as many references as needed for the research). 7. Evaluate critically the material retrieved; be especially suspicious of sources from the Web. 8. Assimilate the information; dont plagiarize. 9. Incorporate your own ideas based on the research topic. 10. Cite all sources. In 1999, SCONUL, the Society of College, National and University Libraries in the UK, published "The Seven Pillars of Information Literacy" model, to "facilitate further development of ideas amongst practitioners in the field, to stimulate debate about the ideas and about how those ideas might be used by library and other staff in higher education concerned with the development of students' skills." A number of other countries have developed information literacy standards since then. 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 Prague Declaration (2003) included a definition of information literacy, positioning information literacy within lifelong learning, namely: Information Literacy, which encompasses knowledge of one's information needs and the ability to identify, locate, evaluate, organize and effectively use information to address issues or problems at hand, is a prerequisite for participating effectively in the information society, and is part of the basic human right of life long learning. 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 2

have seen a crisis of authenticity emerge. We now live in a world where anyone can publish an opinion or perspective, whether true or not, and have that opinion amplified within the information marketplace. At the same time, Americans have unprecedented access to the diverse and independent sources of information, as well as institutions such as libraries and universities, that can help separate truth from fiction and signal from noise." 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. with the aim of providing a pragmatic framework for those professionals who need or are interested in starting an information literacy program. The guidelines will aid information professionals engaged in educational programs, i.e., basic and higher education, in their efforts to meet their current information needs. According to the IFLA website, "The primary purpose of the Information Literacy Section is to foster international cooperation in the development of information literacy education in all types of libraries and information institutions." ROLE OF INFORMATION LITERACY IN KNOWLEDGE LIFE CYCLE: The National Knowledge Commission constituted on June 2005, identified three phases of a persons entire life span, form birth to post work age during which he/she needs different kinds of information in different phases of life. The young persons are acquiring knowledge through secondary and higher education. The teachers and library professionals impart information literacy competency to the learners through information literacy programs. Information literacy also has a component of lifelong learning. The formal and informal ways of learning are present throughout a persons life, where the person acquires new sets of knowledge of his/ her interests, updates his/ her existing knowledge on his/her profession or vocation. INFORMATION LITERACY INITIATIVES IN INDIA: The information literacy programmes are already functioning in various libraries and information centres in India in the forms of User education, bibliographic instruction, library instruction, library research and so on. 1) Former President Dr.A.P.J Abdul Kalam coined a new term PURA (Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas) that provides three types of connectivity across the country- physical connectivity by providing roads in rural areas, electronic connectivity by providing reliable communication network and knowledge connectivity by establishing more professional institutions and vocational training centres. 2) Bhoomi, Gyandoot, Community Information Centres, provide various kinds of community information as required by common citizens, eg. Education, health, nutrition, sanitation, agriculture, wholesale prices of agricultural products, village industries, weather, land records and so on. 3) The Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, a network of rural residential schools supported by the Government of India for the rural children covering 6th-12th classes are a unique experiment wherein each of the students is to prepare project report using the information resources of the respective libraries. The


curriculum is designed to provide opportunities to use information and ICT to facilitate learning process. 4) NCERT & SCERT conduct regular orientation programs/ refresher courses for the school librarians. 5) INSDOC (now, NISCAIR) developed an audio-visual program for junior school children about how to find information from sources like encyclopedias, dictionaries, periodicals, atlases etc. in print as well as in electronic form. 6) The Indian MEDLARS Centre of National Informatics Centre conducts a user training program in every four month on their information products and services such as IndMed databases, medIND open access journal literature, OpenMED open access archive, UNCat union catalogue databases etc. which are designed mainly for health professionals and health librarians. 7) The Academic Staff Colleges established in the universities regularly organize orientation/ refresher courses for teachers and librarians to imbibe skills for locating and accessing information in the changing environment. 8) NISCAIR, SENDOC, NIRD and NASSDOC play a significant role in orienting library and information science professionals of the country to acquire the skills of access to information. 9) IASLIC, Society for the Advancement of Library and Information Science (SALIS) and Kerala Library Association (KLA) in collaboration with UNESCO have organized information literacy competency development workshops in different parts of India since 2006. 10) In January 2008, SALIS in collaboration with UNESCO has launched the eLearning Portal for Awareness Raising on Information Literacy ( ). It aims to raise awareness, sensitize and enhance information literacy competency skills of common information users as well as information professionals and educators in the South Asian sub-region. CONCLUSION: Information literacy is considered as an intervention tool for socio-economic empowerment in a globalizing world to stay ahead in a competitive world with knowledge superiority. It is required for effective use, consumption and assessment of information resources available in the institutions. If implemented properly, it can also bridge the gap between digital divide that is observed in many initiatives in India in the forms of e-choupals, gyandoot, community information centres etc. The Information Literacy Standards prepared by IFLA, ALA, UNESCO can be adapted in a nation like India that aims at becoming a knowledge society. National Knowledge Commission in India rightly identified different areas of intervention for bringing the whole nation in knowledge and development paradigms. The information literacy and lifelong learning will bring equal opportunities to all segments of the society.



Reference: Donaldson, Christy. Information Literacy and the McKinsey Model: The McKinsey Strategic Problem-Solving Model Adapted to Teach Information Literacy to Graduate Business Students. Library Philosophy and Practice Vol. 6, No. 2 ( )Raghavan, K.S. and Prasad, K.N.(2009). Library & Information Systems. New Delhi. Ess Ess Publications. 2) Lal, C.Information Literacy in the Digital Age. New Delhi: Ess Ess Publications. 3) Lant, Peggy. Information literacy and teaching with technology. (Accessed on 29/12/2010)4) Lau, Jesus. GUIDELINES ON INFORMATION LITERACY FOR LIFELONG LEARNING. (Accessed on 29/12/2010)

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