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Information Literacy: IL

ALA Definition of IL

Information literacy is 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." 1 Information literacy also is increasingly important in the contemporary environment of rapid technological change and proliferating information resources. Because of the escalating complexity of this environment, individuals are faced with diverse, abundant information choices--in their academic studies, in the workplace, and in their personal lives. 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.

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. An information literate individual is 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 one’s 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

Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Chicago:Association of College & Research Libraries, 2000

Subject Guide

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