Information Literacy

Courses teaching information literacy explicitly include the discovery and evaluation of information resources as an object of study. Often faculty invite librarians to teach specific class sessions in such courses. Two types of courses are good candidates for a focus on information literacy: introductory courses and advanced courses for majors. In introductory courses, students new to college can gain a basic introduction to the life of information in a university setting. In advanced courses for majors, students can learn the specific information systems and conventions within their chosen field of study.

Examples of information literacy topics include:

  • Critical evaluation of the Internet as an information source
  • Citation systems in various subject disciplines
  • Reliability of information resources, including the process and significance of peer review
  • Knowing how information in a discipline is produced, published, disseminated, indexed, and retrieved
  • Ethical use of information, including the issues of privacy, copyright, and plagiarism
  • Misrepresentation of information, from statistical data to maps to quotations
  • Skills in using and producing a variety of information formats, from graphs, maps, video, complex software packages to graphics
  • Knowledge production, including various types (newspapers, government documents, scholarly journals, etc.).

Information literacy is best learned in conjunction with authentic inquiry into the subject matter of the course. Librarians can help faculty construct meaningful assignments that provide students with opportunities to develop information literacy skills while simultaneously learning within the field of inquiry of the course. Examples of such assignments include:

  • writing a literature review in preparation for a term paper
  • creating an annotated bibliography
  • finding and evaluating Web resources for a given topic
  • making a documentary
  • finding articles cited in a paper's bibliography and critiquing how and why the author used them.