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Research Guides

Information Literacy & Library Research: Information Literacy

Information literacy is the ability to know when information is needed and to be able to identify, locate and evaluate, and then legally and responsibly use and share that information.

Information Literacy

What is information literacy? Why is it important enough to have an entire class dedicated to it?

"To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” (ALA 1989). For example, let’s say you are working for a manufacturing company and your boss asks you to report on the company’s closest competitors. This is a situation where you need information. How and where do you find out this information? How do you know that the information you are finding is reliable? How do you interpret that information and combine it together so that you can talk intelligently about it to your boss?

Information literacy is defined 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" (ACRL 2015).

So what does that mean for you?

You will use your information literacy abilities in situations that require learning about something so you can solve a problem or make a decision. These problems or decisions that require knowledge can range from the mundane (looking for a recipe to use up the peppers in the fridge that are about to go bad), to the serious (deciding which cancer treatment to pursue after your oncologist gave you a range of treatment options). 

The information literacy skills you learn for INFO 1010 and ENGL 2010 will help you with research-based writing. That means finding information on a topic that you can then learn about and write about in an informed way. This will help you throughout your college career as you will be learning, writing, and presenting about topics in many of your courses. However, these skills can extend to your professional and personal lives as well. Learning doesn't stop once you graduate college. To stay current in the world, you need to continue learning and growing, and Information Literacy is a crucial skill to support lifelong learning (see this video for more context to Lifelong Learning). SUU's motto, Learning Lives Forever, is chosen wisely!

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) considers information literacy to be a basic human right. In light of this, it should not be surprising that information literacy is one of the essential learning outcomes of SUU.

Information literate people are prepared to use information to solve problems in different situations, such as: 

  • My professor asked us to find peer-reviewed research articles on a topic of choice and write a 5-page paper. Where do I start?
  • I want to buy a house. How do I make sure I'm prepared for this process?
  • It's voting season, and I want to know what each candidate's platform is and which is closest to my priorities and views?
  • My best friend shared a social media post about a recent event. Is this fake news or did it really happen?

What is Information Literacy?