What is information literacy?

The Association of College and Research Libraries (2015) formally defines information literacy as “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”.

A more contextual description states: “information literate students understand that the world of information is complex. They think critically about information that they encounter, in any format, and are able to locate appropriate information for their context and need. They are ethical and intentional in their own creation of information. Their skills seamlessly transfer from one program and situation to another and create a foundation for lifelong learning (Red Deer College Library).

Why is information literacy important?

The current information landscape is often challenging to navigate.  Searching strategically for relevant, credible information can be difficult for many students.  The process of choosing and developing research topics can also be challenging. Understanding how, why and for whom, information is created can also be a struggle. Students are expected to be active consumers and creators of knowledge while participating ethically in scholarly conversations. These challenges underlie why information literacy is important. 

How the University Library supports information literacy

Instructional Support: Faculty may request customizable and collaborative information literacy workshops on a variety of topics including searching effectively and strategically, locating peer-reviewed literature, and critically evaluating information sources. Librarians can also provide advice on research assignments and recommend course-specific resources - contact your librarian to learn more.
Several U of S courses now include online, subject-specific information literacy modules.  Librarians also offer instructional support for instructors teaching online or at a distance. Contact your librarian to see what services are available to support you.
The library is currently developing an information literacy instructional toolkit – stay tuned for further developments! 

Individualized Research Consultations: Students and faculty are welcome to make an appointment with their librarian for individualized research consultations.

Drop-in Sessions: Throughout the year, the library offers various drop-in sessions via our Library Skills Peer Assisted Learning program (for undergraduate students) and our Library Researcher Series (for graduate students and faculty). 

Reference Services: The library's Ask Us service provides research assistance in-person, as well as via telephone, email, and chat/IM.

Library Materials: The library has various online resources that address many common research questions, such as the How Do I?  website. The library’s Research Guides are rich resources providing research assistance in subject-specific areas as well as in general research areas. In addition, the library’s extensive collection of resources can be incorporated directly into your courses (e.g., direct persistent links to online resources, Course Reserves for print and online resources, etc.).

Tours and General Orientations: To request a  tour, fill in our online request form, phone (306) 966-5988, or email tours@library.usask.ca.  For more information, visit the Tour the University Library guide.

What is informing our practice?

From this framework, the University Library drafted developmental, non-discipline specific, undergraduate student learning outcomes.

The University Library’s commitment to information literacy instruction also builds on the University of Saskatchewan’s vision to provide high-quality teaching and learning experiences, by aligning the library’s instructional programming with the learning goals set forth in the University’s Learning Charter.

What is the research saying?

While there are countless research studies on various aspects of information literacy, Project Information Literacy is a longitudinal, nationwide (U.S.) research project focused on “how college students find and use information -- their needs, strategies, practices, and workarounds -- for course work and solving information problems that arise in their everyday lives”. This article provides a summary of the findings from various research studies undertaken thus far.

Project Information Literacy (PIL) - All of PIL's work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Project Information Literacy (PIL) (CC-BY-NC)

Questions?

Chat with your librarian or contact Angie Gerrard, information literacy coordinator.