What Is Information Literacy?

Instructional Technology Services - SPU

Literacy today involves being able to understand and process oral, written, electronic, and multi-media forms of communication. Society expects graduates to think critically, solve problems, communicate clearly, and learn and work both independently and with others. (BC Ministry of Education, 2006)

Information literacy is defined by School District 73 as:

Information literacy is the ability to acquire, critically evaluate, select, use, create and communicate information in ways that lead to knowledge and wisdom. The library program delivers a comprehensive information literacy program to teach students the skills and attributes they need to become independent life-long learners.

Achieving Information Literacy
(Standards created by the Canadian School Library Association and The Association for Teacher-Librarianship in Canada, 2003)

The document, Achieving Information Literacy, was written to re-establish Canada's role in the success of school libraries. The authors' define Information Literacy in the following three ways:
  1. Information Literacy consists of skills, strategies, and ways of thinking that are essential to success in a knowledge-based economy.
  2. Information Literacy is the ability to find and use information with critical discrimination in order to build knowledge.
  3. An information literate person is a lifelong learner, skilled at using complex cognitive processes and diverse technological tools in order to solve problems in personal, social, economical, and political contexts.

My role as Teacher-Librarian and Instruction of Information Literacy Skills
  • provide instruction on finding, retrieving, analyzing, selecting, evaluating and using information.
  • provide a variety of formats and resources for retrieving information.
  • provide instruction and strategies on how to assess and determine if information is authentic and reliable.
  • develop critical thinking and problem solving skills through Inquiry learning.
  • provide instruction on and access to online educational resources, including EBSCO databases.
  • assist students and classroom teachers in creation of a format/presentation in which to share their information with each other, their school, parents, the community and beyond.

Books . . . As Important as Ever in the 21st Century

Although one of the biggest role's of the Teacher-Librarian today is teaching information literacy skills, so too is connecting students with a variety of quality reading resources. One of my goals as Teacher-Librarian is to share my love of reading and books with students in the hope, they too, will become lifelong readers. "The single most important activity for building knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children . . . it is a practice that should continue throughout the grades" (Vardell, 2008). Reading aloud to your students allows the teacher to model how to make personal connections with the literature related to past life-experiences by making comments such as, "That reminds me of . . ." or "I remember when . . ." making their reading experiences much more meaningful and engaging. There is recent research that suggests students who are motivated to read and engaged in their reading (making personal connections throughout reading), tend to be higher achieving students (McPherson, 2007). Vardell also recommends to highlight literacy events like Young People's Poetry Week and as well in our District events like Young Author's, Battle of the Books, Book Clubs and Book Talks. She states that, "These events motivate children and adults alike to celebrate the fun of books and provides a model of how to value reading, showing your library is linked with literacy promotion efforts on a grander scale."