Why information literacy?

Yesterday I took myself on an excursion to UTS to hear Heidi Julien from the University of Alberta talk about information literacy.  As part of preparing to write this post with my comments on the talk, I thought I’d revisit Miss Sophie Mac’s recent blog post on information literacy in context.  Sophie says of information literacy (among other things):

I believe first and foremost that it’s important because information is experienced in socio-cultural context and outside this information has no meaning.

In the room yesterday, there was much debate about the many-sided subject of information literacy.  Heidi Julien feels strongly that information literacy must always involve some aspect of learning as surfing the net for 20 years does not develop IL skills.  However, the resource issues in libraries and the vast percentage of the population that do not have regular contact with instruction librarians (either academic, public or school) means that instruction cannot be the only way to deliver information literacy skills.  Given that Heidi presented some pretty compelling research into the cost to business and community of low information literacy, it would seem that it is an issue for the wider community – leaving the question of how do we reach everyone?

Here’s some of the highlights (from my perspective) of the session:

  • Does information literacy suffer because of it’s name? Who wants to be considered ‘illiterate’?
  • If info lit = instruction, then we have to address the issue of pedagogy of teaching in library education, ie we don’t get pedagogical training yet we are expected to take on the role of librarian as teacher (hopefully the Reconceptualising LIS Education project will address some of this?)
  • I met @misssophiemac
  • Spotted @malbooth in the crowd tweeting away
  • let’s work with Google, not against it – the students (and community in general) will use it, they may as well learn to use it properly and effectively evaluate the information they get out of it
  • more networking! Got chatting to one new person, re-established contact with someone from the past

All in all, I had a great afternoon, was good to get the brain working on some abstract ideas, was refreshing to get out of the office and hear the thoughts and ideas of others.  Oh, and I walked there from MPOW, so along the way snapped this pic of the old Mortuary Station on Regent Street at Central for the #1pic1thoughtinaugust project.  I love this building.

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One thought on “Why information literacy?

  1. Pingback: Updating my CV « Opinions from an OPL

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