Information Literacy is the capacity to know when information is required, to be competent enough to find, assess and efficiently use the information for the difficulty or concern at hand. Other aspects could be judgment, questioning, free-thinking, understanding or integrate competencies that a citizen of a society should possess, so that the individual can intelligently participate in the society that one is living.
A set of skills are necessary to be information literate and an understanding of the following are needed:
- A need for information
- The resources those are available
- How to look for the information
- Evaluation of results
- How to work with or develop results
- Responsibility and ethics
- How to share your findings or communicate them to others
- How to manage your findings
A Need for Information
Knowing that information is required, understanding the need for the information, what kind of and how much information is required, also understanding the constraints on obtaining the information; understanding that the information could be available in many types of formats in different virtual and geographical locations.
Information could be available digitally, on paper, through a friend or through media like a movie. The information needed might not be at a hands distance or effortlessly accessible.
Understanding Availability of Resources
You should be competent to identify what resources can be availed for utilization, where can you find them, how can you get the information, the benefits of the resource and the right time when you could use them.
You need to be aware that there is a difference between the types of resources available: electronic, paper based or human and accordingly you should know how and when to use which resource.
For example: An article could be available in printed form or on the internet, a company’s website could be viewed differently by its employees and in a different way by the customers or visitors of the website.
In order to buy a book a child would have to go through many gateways to access information like their parents views about the book, filtering policy of the library or access to computers at home. The situation could be different for different children and the availability depends on the access to their resources. All the resources could be subject to political, industrial, cultural, national, newspapers, religious groups, news sites and lobby groups.
Understanding How to Look for Information
It is an ability to look for proper information and efficiently identify the related information. There are many strategies that need to be applied to get the best results. There could be too many results for a particular information that is being looked for and the user needs to identify when to stop looking for the information. Besides purposive searching, information could also be got by scanning, browsing and monitoring the success of information.
For Example: understanding and using Boolean logic, truncation and fielded data, use of back-of-book indexes, using abstract and indexing journals, scanning the news and RSS feed, using hypertext, bookmarks, URL’s etc.
Understanding the Need to Evaluate Results
You should be able to evaluate the information that is available; authentic, accurate, value, currency and bias. You should also evaluate the results by which you acquired the information to make sure that you were not misled. The resources should not just be the answer to your question but also trustworthy.
Examples: Inquire about the author, publisher or editor, examine the authenticity and the origin, examine the audience or purpose, the organization, consistency, the reputation of the owner, relevance to the question or problem, availability of notes, index, illustrations etc.
Understand How to Work with or Exploit Results
Once you have evaluated your information you need to analyze and work with the acquired information in order to provide exact and presentable results of your research or develop a new understanding about it.
Understand the Ethics and Responsibility of Use
Information could be important and it is necessary that you understand that it should be used responsibly, ethically and culturally sensitive way. The confidentiality of information should always be respected and if required the persons whose work you are using should always be credited. It is ethically right on your part to always produce an unbiased report.
Understand How to Share your Findings
The information should be shared or communicated in a way or format which is appropriate according to the information, the situation or the audience with whom the information needs to be shared.
- The advantages and disadvantages of the various communication channels should be understood. E.g. A web page, written report or presentation.
- Taking part in publication and collaborative writing including the use of collaborative software. E.g. Wikipedia, student group report etc.
- Knowing citation style
- Use of end notes and footnotes
- Use of style that can be easily understood if the reports are being found verbally
- Understanding the styles of writing. E.g. reports, presentation, essay, etc.
Understand How to Manage your Findings
Last and the most important of all skills storing and managing all your information by using the best methods those are available.
For Example: using files or cabinets to store the data, organizing email and their attachments, security and the back-up copies of information, use of folders on the computer to organize data, tracking all the changes happening in the documents, use of appropriate software and personal content management are some of the ways by which you can keep managing your information.