What is Information Literacy and why we should care

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The term “information literacy” was first coined in 1974 by a report from a national library and has been the subject of discussion in educational institutions ever since. For all types of libraries, it is an educational framework that includes media, computers, digital, general information and technological literacy. The American Library Association defines it as follows:

“A set of integrated capacities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in the creation of new knowledge and the ethical participation in communities of learning.”

First, the media is the subject of debate in today’s society as to what it really is and what political biases or commercial influence it might have. Not all media is politically oriented, which means not all of it is biased or fake, especially if it can be backed up with scientific and historical evidence and facts. Unfortunately, the media often relies heavily on negative emotional responses.

Also, the business-oriented media is not hiding their attempt to sell you something. But the endless onslaught on citizens is so evasive from the advertising industry that it can confuse its analytical capacity and hamper the critical thinking process. This is called information overload. For IT, digital and technological literacy goes without saying.

All these dry pedagogical explanations aside, what does information literacy mean to the public today in practical terms? For recent Covid events, the election, the attack on the US Capitol and the war in Europe, processing information is extremely important to foster understanding. Even if you are not in higher education, the different types of literacy are also part of “lifelong learning”.

This term refers to those who are not currently engaged in formal education but are still in the process of learning the skills they learned in school that can be applied for the rest of their lives. Literacy can apply to jobs, family, community involvement, and even hobbies and hobbies. With accelerated learning, we don’t stop learning just because we’re not in formal education.

Information literacy enriches our lives and makes us better citizens, no matter where we are in life. Democracy relies on citizens who are aware and engaged in the process. Democracy simply does not exist, it is an ongoing active process that we must continue to work on.

Eric R. Green is a reference librarian at Buena Vista University.

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