The development of the digital world has created one major problem – information overload. Information is accessible 24/7 from a variety of sources with varying viewpoints, authority, and credibility. Successfully navigating this complex world of information is possible but only when information literacy skills have been developed.
The Association of College and Research Libraries defines information literacy as “a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” We believe this definition of information literacy highlights its importance for all areas of life – including academics, work, and in one’s personal life.
Why Information Literacy is Important
Information literacy should be a fundamental principle in college education as it shares a common vision with institutions of higher learning – to develop skills for life-long learning. The Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education states that, “Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning.”
It is also vital to future generations as information is created more rapidly and in larger quantities than in past generations. It is much harder to “weed-out” biased, false, and misleading information as the accessibility of information-creating technology has rapidly increased.
When Information Literacy Skills Will Be Used
Information literacy is generally associated with research papers or class projects but we think information literacy has many implications beyond the classroom. Many daily tasks in the workplace involve the need to find and evaluate information in order to perform a job appropriately. Other common decisions where information literacy plays a role include tasks such as researching health issues, choosing which car to purchase, deciding what to do on your family vacation, watching an evening newscast critically, and so much more. Another major use for information literacy skills is selecting viewpoints and opinions on current news and political issues.
We strongly believe in the need to develop the information literacy skills of students across the United States, which led us to create our information literacy test for colleges and universities. We hope you consider using our assessment at your institution so that together we can develop a generation of information literate citizens.