Facing the realities of the technology age that has flooded us with information, the American Library Association suggests that librarians and other educators rethink their concepts about information, learning and knowledge. In 1989, the American Library Association Presidential Committee on Information Literacy urged educators to "reap the benefits from the Information Age" by teaching for information literacy. This report defined information literacy as "personal empowerment." Information literate people are "those who have learned how to learn. They know how to learn because they know how knowledge is organized, how to find information, and how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them. They are people prepared for lifelong learning, because they can always find the information needed for any task or decision at hand.”

Information Literacy Defined

Information literacy is an umbrella term that incorporates critical and logical thinking, information seeking and gathering, accurate and appropriate documentation, writing and composition, and proficient use of computers and computer programs. Teaching these skills is the responsibility of classroom teachers in all disciplines, librarians and information technology specialists. Learning these skills is the responsibility of all individuals who want to be information literate.

The Association of College and Research Libraries defines information literacy as "a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." They also outline the following six abilities of an information literate person:

  • Determines the extent of information needed
  • Accesses the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluates information and its sources critically
  • Incorporates selected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understands the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally