What is information literacy?
Information literacy is the ability to think critically and make balanced judgements about any information we find and use. It empowers us as citizens to develop informed views and to engage fully with society” (CILIP 2018)
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 can be challenging to navigate. Searching strategically for credible, reliable and relevant information can be difficult for many students. The process of choosing and developing research topics can also be challenging. Students are also 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 has an information literacy toolkit for instructors which has a variety of learning resources for incorporating information literacy into your teaching. We also recently launched a digital information literacy guide for students called Are You Information Savvy. This guide will help students built their awareness and skills in the specific areas of digital information literacy: searcher, consumer, creator, collaborator, creator, and communicators.
Individualized Research Consultations: Students and faculty are welcome to make an appointment with their librarian for individualized research consultations.
Online Sessions: Throughout Terms 1 and 2, the library offers various drop-in research-related workshops for both undergraduate and graduate students.
Reference Services: The library's Ask Us service provides online research assistance, as well as via email, and chat/IM.
Library Materials: The library has various online resources that address many common research questions. 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.).
What is informing our practice?
The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) recently released the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. The framework revolves around six core information literacy concepts:
- Authority is Constructed and Contextual
- Information Creation as a Process
- Information Has Value
- Research as Inquiry
- Scholarship as Conversation
- Searching as Strategic Exploration
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.