Information Literacy

Information Literacy at LWTech

Information Literacy has many definitions and they are each dependent upon the context within which they are used. At LWTech, Information Literacy is one of the college’s Global Outcomes, indicating that it is a valued throughout every student’s educational journey. LWTech defines Information Literacy as “The ability to recognize when information is needed, to choose the appropriate tools to locate the required information, and to effectively gather and evaluate the information.” The skills learned and used to satisfy this definition are determined within each curriculum.

In addition to LWTech’s broad description of Information Literacy, the American College and Research Libraries (ACRL) provides the following definition in its 2015-2016 Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (utilized by academic institutions throughout the world):

“Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.”

The framework is built upon the following frames, which encompass a broad but applicable understanding of Information Literacy in and also beyond the academic context: Authority Is Constructed and Contextual, Information Creation as a Process, Information Has Value, Research as Inquiry, Scholarship as Conversation, and Searching as Strategic Exploration.

A combination of the Global Outcome lens and the ACRL Framework informs Information Literacy at the library, as well as the instructional methods of the LWTech Faculty Librarians.

Information Literacy and the Library Learning Commons

As members of the college’s Faculty supporting both the Global Outcomes and research in general, and being experienced in the ACRL Framework, LWTech librarians have a consistent goal to provide Information Literacy skills to all members of the academic community. The librarians are committed to providing Information Literacy in a variety of ways to support the diverse learning needs at the school. These include but are not limited to:

  • Providing in-class support via instructional sessions and assignments related to source evaluation, the process of search, conducting research in an academic and professional context, and the implications of creating and sharing information.
  • Creating resources that can be used for teaching and learning opportunities, including handouts, online videos, book displays, social media, and posters.
  • Hosting events, workshops, trainings, and other programming that may or may not explore collaborations with other educators within the campus (or external).
  • Being consistently present for distance learners via the college’s website and Canvas courses.
  • Providing research guides to directly serve the needs of specific academic areas and programs (forthcoming).
  • Maintaining availability to serve as intermediaries for individuals and their own information and research needs.
  • Serving as authorities on Information Literacy for the ever-changing, ever-evolving requirements of LWTech and the region.

Additional Information Literacy Implications

The work being conducted within the realm of Information Literacy, via the students and educators at LWTech, has implications beyond itself. In many ways, Information Literacy has historically been identified as a vast/broad concept but has also been defined in itself and for itself. These older approaches to Information Literacy ignore/avoid the powerful intersections with other initiatives and concepts on-campus. A few related initiatives are listed below.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)

Information Literacy work is aligned with much of the college’s EDI efforts, aiming to empower individuals to find and utilize information to find success, as well as build critical thinking skills for those oppressed, disadvantaged, and marginalized populations. Information Literacy skills can be applied to a critical lens to support a more just, equitable, and progressive society.

Open Pedagogy and Open Educational Resources (OER)

Information Literacy extends our way of thinking beyond information that exists within closed doors, behind the walls of copyright. Information Literacy encourages thinking about types of information that are freely available, versus those that are only accessible with cost. Such awareness of authority and hierarchy provides context to members of the college community when thinking about their professional future.

Digital Literacy

As defined by DigitalLiteracy.US, “digital literacy” is:

“The ability to use technology, communication tools or networks to locate, evaluate, use and create information; The Ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers; A person’s ability to perform tasks effectively in a digital environment…”

Conversations on Digital Literacy and the Digital Divide have long-demonstrated the value of technology skills in the digital age. Many skills useful in navigating and optimally utilizing hardware and software, as well as the Internet, overlap with Information Literacy. In other words, the evaluative quality of Information Literacy shares commonality with Digital Literacy.