Blog 3 – ETL401 Teacher Librarianship – Topic: Information literacy is more than a set of skills

Reflecting on the subject matter and readings, this blog will argue that information literacy (“IL”) is fundamentally much more than a set of skills, particularly from a practical viewpoint of the role of a Teacher Librarian (“TL”).

IL “is the set of skills and knowledge that allows us to find, evaluate, and use the information we need, as well as to filter out the information we don’t need (Eisenberg, 2008, p. 39).  In contrast, James Herring (2011) maintains that IL is “a practice, rather than a set of skills” and it is through practice and application that IL can be understood.  Likewise, IL has also been defined as “a transformational process in which the learner needs to find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes” (Information Literacy: Building Blocks of Research Overview).  As there as so many definitions of what IL actually it, it is extremely important that the school staff decide together on a common understanding of the term so that everybody is aware of the complexities (Herring, 2011).

In fact, out of the seven attributes embodied in the Statement on IL provided by the Australian Library and Information Association (“ALIA”), only one mentions “skills”.  It states that IL contributes to … “learning for life; the creation of new knowledge; acquisition of skills; personal, vocational, corporate and organisational empowerment, social inclusion, participative citizenship; and innovation and enterprise” (ALIA, Statement on Information Literacy).  IL embodies a combination of competences that cannot be achieved in isolation.

Therefore, IL is much more than a set of skills.  It is a combination of different skills, knowledge, practices, processes, concepts, strategies and applications vital for the 21st Century.  From a practical viewpoint of the role of the TL, TLs are well placed to contribute significantly to the development of these proficiencies from an “interdisciplinary perspective” as they teach across all stages (Mitchell, p.13).  Furthermore, Herring argues that IL is a practice where “students engage in a range of information-related learning activities, with a focus on gaining new knowledge, and that students are reflective practitioners” (2011) and this is critical for students in the 21st Century.  Again, TLs are in a valuable position to assist students in a variety of different ways due to their position in the school.  Herring argues that the challenge is to support students to become active IL experts rather than just “users of a narrow range of skills” (2011) and this is ultimately what TLs need to focus on.  That is, to support students in being able to transfer their IL competences to real life situations and incorporating IL cross-curriculum. 

From a TL’ perspective, the teaching and learning of IL needs to be reviewed throughout the whole school to ensure that it is reinforced across all subjects and levels (Herring, 2011, p. 7).  TLs must collaborate to support students in fostering IL practices across the curriculum.  A proactive approach by a TL would be extremely beneficial to students in meeting learning outcomes and becoming proficient in IL.

References

Australian Library and Information Association. Information literacy for all Australians.

Statement on information literacy for all Australians. http://www.alia.org.au /policies/information.literacy.html.

Eisenberg, M.B. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the information age.

DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), pp. 39-47.

Herring, J. (2011). Assumptions, Information Literacy and transfer in high schools. Teacher Librarian, 38(3).

Information Literacy: Building Blocks of Research: Overview. What is Information Literacy?http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/1over/infolit1.html.

Mitchell, P. (2011). Resourcing 21st Century online Australian curriculum: The role of school libraries.

Thomas, N.P., Crow, S.R. & Franklin, L.L. (2011). Information literacy and information skills instruction. Applying research to practice in the 21st century school library (3rd ed.).

(Word count without reference list = 506)

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