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Information Literacy Defined


Why information literacy?

"The uncertain quality and expanding quantity of information pose large challenges for society. The sheer abundance of information will not in itself create a more informed citizenry without a complementary cluster of abilities necessary to use information effectively."

(ACRL, Information Literacy Defined, 2000)


Information literacy is important in all realms of life and throughout people's lives:

Information literacy in education

A core objective of education is to develop lifelong learners, or individuals capable of learning how to learn. In order to be a lifelong learner, information literacy skills are critical.

"By ensuring that individuals have the intellectual abilities of reasoning and critical thinking, and by helping them construct a framework for learning how to learn, colleges and universities provide the foundation for continued growth throughout their careers."***

  • The top 10 in demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004…  Information literacy helps train students for the new jobs that will exist by the time they graduate.
  • Information literacy allows students to identify and solve problems that we don’t even know about yet.


Information literacy for economic activity

"Information literacy is central to both the notion of a learning organization and to the development of a competitive advantage for firms and for nations within the global knowledge economy.”

  • Individuals ’business ability needs to be more “information centric” (President of Toshiba)*
  • Workers spend 9.5 hours "searching for information" and 9.6 hours "analyzing information" every week – at a cost of $28,000 per worker per year.**
  • To be competitive, companies need to learn faster than their competitors. Companies learn by gathering information and using it to innovate and generate new products or processes.


Information literacy for civic participation

Information literacy is essential for the operation of a civic society in which all people may participate.”

  • Democratic participation requires active information-seeking on the part of voters and citizens.
  • The citizens’ ability to evaluate, process and re-use information leads to creative, innovative ideas and actions that empower the people.


Information literacy for health and well being

“Information literacy is a crucial tool in developing health and well being for all people.”

  • For professionals, access to current research and best practice is essential to the delivery of quality health services.
  • For patients, the ability to find, interpret and understand basic information about health is key to informed decisions and health-enhancing life choices.

All quotations and general ideas taken from UNESCO, Toward Information Literacy Indicators (2008) with the exception of the following:

* quoted in Oman, Julie N. "information Literacy in the Workplace." Information Outlook 5:6 (June 2001) 35.

**From Hidden Cost of Information Work, a 2005 survey of 600 financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and government organizations.

*** ACRL, Information Literacy and Higher Education

Information Literacy
for Faculty



Created by Name / Updated on February 15, 2019 by Name

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