Information Literacy: Definitions & Standards

Information Literacy Definitions

"Information literacy is 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."

[American Library Association. Final Report of the American Library Association Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Chicago: American Library Association, 1989.]

"Information literacy focuses on content and communication: it encompasses authoring, information finding and organization, research, and information analysis, assessment, and evaluation. Content can take many forms: text, images, video, computer simulations, and multimedia interactive works. Content can also serve many purposes: news, art, entertainment, education, research and scholarship, advertising, politics, commerce, and documents and records that structure activities of everyday business and personal life. Information literacy subsumes but goes far beyond the traditional textual literacy that has been considered part of a basic education (the ability to read, write, and critically analyze various forms of primarily textual literary works or personal and business documents). By contrast, FITness focuses on a set of intellectual capabilities, conceptual knowledge, and contemporary skills associated with information technology. . . Both information literacy and FITness are essential for individuals to use information technology effectively. . . "

[Being Fluent with Information Technology, p. 48-50, National Research Council Computer Science & Telecommunications Board, 1999.]

"Information literate students have the ability to define the kind of information they need and then locate, evaluate, and use it efficiently and ethically. Among other skills they should be able to:

  • identify the purpose and audience of potential resources (e.g., popular vs. scholarly, current vs. historical, or advocacy vs. dispassionate discussion)
  • understand the correct use and severe limitations of web search engines in scholarly research
  • know how to locate and select the most reliable electronic and print resources for research in an academic discipline - i.e.
    • examine and compare information from various sources to evaluate reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias
  • avoid plagiarism by giving proper recognition to sources of information through the use of an appropriate citation format"

[Smith College Provost Report to the Faculty March, 2003]

Information Literacy Standards

Standards
Association of College and Research Libraries
Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education
Association of College and Research Libraries
Information Literacy Standards for Science and Engineering/Technology
Association of College and Research Libraries
Information Literacy Standards for Psychology
Association of College and Research Libraries
Information Literacy Standards for Teacher Education
Association of College and Research Libraries
Information Literacy Standards for Visual Literacy
Smith College
Basic Information Literacy Skills for First and Second Year Students
Smith College
Basic Information Literacy Skills for Writing Intensive Students

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Standards for Accreditation:

STANDARD 4.6

The institution ensures that students use information resources and information technology as an integral part of their education. The institution provides appropriate orientation and training for use of these resources, as well as instruction and support in information literacy and information technology appropriate to the degree level and field of study.

Read More About Information Literacy

Why Information Literacy is an Urgent Problem (Smith College)