Information literacy -- another moving target of the academic librarians' toolbox.
People have worried about how to deal with the flow of information for nearly five decades. To help make sense of this increasing flow of information, librarians began teaching what they termed "Information literacy": using critical thinking to better understand the importance of information, how to search and gather that information and, and, most importantly, understanding how to evaluate it.
In a recent paper (pdf), Noa Aharony and Jenny Bronstein take the temperature of Israeli academic librarians coming to terms with information literacy in a rapidly expanding information environment of social networks and large-scale data processing, as well as near-constant connectivity of students.
With the increase of tools to gather and use information, should academic librarians expand the definition of information literacy, broadening the teaching they provide for students?
For the 125 Israeli librarians queried, most agree that librarians should continue teaching traditional information skills but also that students must increase their knowledge of collaboration and what is called metacognition: understanding their learning in the abstract. Aharony and Bronstein find that the survey participants "linked information literacy with computer and technology literacies," expanding librarian tasks to help students understand digital tools.
The takeaway. Librarians need to remain up to date with new technologies to better serve students' information needs.
Findings show that dynamic technological changes have not changed librarians' traditional definition of information literacy. Librarians still view information literacy mainly as a set of competencies. However, they also associate it with digital literacy and expand the definition to include collaborative aspects related to Web 2.0 technologies. Hence, it seems librarians are familiar with the new technologies, would like to use them in their instruction, and understand their impact on students. Librarians also suggest they should be responsible for teaching these skills and recommend practical tips to improve the instruction.
Here is that paper again: Academic Librarians’ Perceptions on Information Literacy: The Israeli Perspective (pdf)