Information literacy has been a subject of interest for many LIS professionals during the last four decades. Consequently a huge amount of literature has been published and is available on the Internet. The role of national library and information associations such as CILIP, ALIA and the ALA have been instrumental in creating public awareness on the subject.
Information literacy or digital literacy has been defined as “as the ability to recognize the need for information and to identify, locate, access, evaluate and effectively use the information to address and help resolve personal, job-related or broader social issues and problems” (ALIA, 2004). It concerns people’s ability to operate effectively in an information society. The basic skills to read, write and perform simple arithmetic operations is definitely not enough. It requires a technological know-how to manipulate computers (computer literacy), the ability to use a library’s collection and services (library literacy), the ability to search online databases, Web-based resources and digital media through networked collections (digital literacy), and the skills to critically evaluate information sources accessible from various sources. Without such skills, one would be marginalized in society and the individual may not reap the full benefits of an increasingly wired, networked, digitalized and virtual information world. He would be a poor in an information-rich society!
How can Information Literacy help?
In our age of information-intensive societies, it is important for all individuals to be information literate; for students to play their role as active learners, for workers to adapt to a constantly changing work environment, for the citizens to play their role as enlightened citizens in a democratic set up. In a nutshell, information literacy ensures:
- Participative citizenship
- Social inclusion
- The creation of new knowledge
- Personal and social empowerment
- Learning for life
In our part of the world, can professional library associations emulate their counterparts in other countries? How can libraries and librarians help to build an information literate nation? At what level can we intervene ? The floor is open for debate.