Information Literacy

info overload

Information overload by Peter Asquith
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

Information Literacy… I hadn’t even heard that phrase until I started the MEdTLship with CSU in mid 2010. I had no idea what it was or why it was important. I had never worked with a teacher librarian before and had a  limited understanding of what teacher librarians do all day. My first subject,  ETL 401 (Teacher librarianship) soon brought a halt to that and, because of my studies, I know what information literacy is and why it is important to my school community and learning.

The importance of information literacy is reinforced throughout all subject areas and forms the very backbone of what librarians do. The interesting thing is that whilst I have been learning about what information literacy is, I have been becoming more information literate.

Information literate people are those who know how to learn. They understand how information is organised, where it can be accessed and whether it is trustworthy or not. They can evaluate it critically and can use it to achieve their goals and restructure it in ways that will help others to understand it. They are empowered because they have the skills to locate information regardless of task or decision to be made (ALA, 2006). This skill set enables them to be adaptable life long learners. They become able to gain control over the vast amount of information available to them (Langford, 1998) and can think critically, questioning the answers they retrieve. Information literacy is NOT library or computer skills (Langford, 1998. p. 10).

My views on the teaching of information literacy have changed during my time of study. Initially I thought that information literacy was the sole responsibility of the teacher librarian. After working through ETL 401 and working as a teacher librarian I now see it as a whole school concern.  The ASLA standards of excellence states that the teacher librarian’s involves designing authentic learning tasks and assessments and the incorporation of information literacy skills throughout the curriculum (ASLA, 2004).  Ideally this is done collaboratively were teacher and teacher librarian work together designing, planning and assessing units and their learning out comes.   Becoming aware of this has lead me to work collaboratively with other members of staff to try and embed information literacy skills throughout the planning and teaching process. By working together we are beginning to develop a common understanding of what information literacy is and how important it is to us and our community.

Organising much of our library website around the Information Skills Process has given information literacy a major focus within our curriculum and has further aided the development of a shared understanding. Our school approaches learning and teaching from an inquiry/constructivist approach and many teachers are now using the ISP to structure and model inquiries. Teachers are beginning to use the terminology of the Information Skills Process but I am aware, because of ETL 401, that some of Kuhlthau’s (2004, p. 149-150) inhibitors to an information literate school community are still in place. This provides me with pointers for the future.

My studies have lead me to believe that building an information literate community does not just mean involving our students and teachers. The parental body also needs to understand that for their children to be successful in today’s information soaked world they need to be information literate (ALIA, 2003, p. 6).  Henri  (2005, p. 12) describes it as pulling the world of school and the world outside school closer together. I realise the importance of this and have started to  write regularly for our school newsletter, provide parents with  fliers and leading parent focused presentations.

brochure for parents

 A parent information presentation, presented at the beginning of the school year.

Building support for an information literate school community means developing a tool kit for our students and teachers.  (O’Connell, 2008, p. 60) ETL523 and ETl 504 gave me the confidence to begin this.  I have utilised tools such as Prezi and Smore in order to create simple referencing guides and presentations on a variety of areas that will improve my students information literacy skills. My placement during ETL 507 was a great motivator to continue this work  as I saw how many guides and resources the librarians had developed for an academic library. I made connections to my own situation.  Seeing first hand how useful these guides were to the students made me realise the importance of the tool kit. It galvanised my resolve to create more aids to support students learning and made me recognise that  I could guide and scaffold inquiries, thus helping to create deep learning and independent,  life long, information literate  learners (O’Connell, 2008. p. 60).

References

American Library Association (2006). Introduction to Information Literacy. http://www.ala.org/acrl/issues/infolit/overview/intro (Accessed May 11, 2013)

Australian Library and Information Association (2003).  A library’s advocate’s guide to building  information literate communities.  Retrieved from http://www.alia.org.au/advocacy/literacy.kit.pdf

Australian School Library Association (ASLA) (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher
librarians.
Australian Library and Information Association.  Retrieved from http://www.alia.org.au/policies/TLstandards.pdf

Document ID: 918d8179-b8dc-d1c4-8930-59dfa5b1626c

Henri, J. (2005). ‘Understanding the information literate community’, in The information literate school community 2, J. Henri and M. Asselin ( eds.), Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Australia, pp 135- 145.

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2004). Seeking meaning: a process approach to library and information services (2nd ed.). Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.

Langford, L. (1998). Information literacy: a clarification. School Libraries Worldwide, 4 (1), p. 59-72.

O’Connell, J. (2008). School library 2.0 : new skills, new knowledge, new futures. In P. Godwin & J.Parker (eds.), Information literacy meets library 2.0 (pp 51-62). London : Facet Publishing.

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