Information literacy, more than a set of skills

Blog Task #3

Topic: “Information literacy is more than a set of skills”. Present an argument for or against this statement, drawing upon the research and professional literature to support your views.

It is my belief that information literacy (IL) is definitely more than a set of skills. If it were only that, then it would not be too difficult to obtain competency in information literacy with the right method of teaching. In today’s realities, literacy not only concerns reading and writing, but also that one has skills as well as knowledge in and an appreciation of how text, visual and digital literacy interact (House, 2011, p. 44; Kirton & Barham, 2005; Ipri, 2010, p. 532). It is about understanding how various literacies can be used in the pursuit of lifelong learning and how to move from one medium to another as much as it is about learnable skills (Ipri, 2010, p. 533).

While by looking at various IL models, such as ISP and the Big6, it may seem information literacy is merely a set of learnable and transferable skills, this is not so. It encompasses these skills, but also is a way of thinking about information and learning (Kuhlthau, Heinstrom & Todd, 2008). As Doyle suggests, IL is the “ability to access, evaluate, and use information from a variety of resources, to recognise when information is needed, and to know how to learn” (Langford, 1998).

Information literacy can be said to be 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” (Herring, 2007, p. 33). IL not only incorporates the ability to express oneself through text and the spoken language, but also through digital images, sound, video and body language (Warlick, 2007, p. 21). Furthermore, IL is about recognising one needs information in the first place, and that one has the mindfulness that issues of bias and accuracy affect information (Chartered Institute, 2002, p. 40). IL, as a concept, changes as society’s needs, technologies, and cultures change, and is thus an ever-evolving concept with no set of wholly definable skills that can be learnt. This all entails that information literacy is more than a set of measurable skills.

This all has implications for the TL. In such an information environment, a TL’s role is to support students’ knowledge and abilities to read for both understanding and pleasure, to gather and use information for educational tasks as well as their own purposes, to develop existing schemas and construct new knowledge, to be able to use and produce information in a variety of formats, and evaluate information and their own work (Hamilton, 2011, p. 34). To meet technological, IL and student achievement demands of today, TLs need to collaborate with staff and students to perform these roles effectively, so as to increase student achievement and ability to become lifelong learners through effective IL skills and knowledge. This is all relevant to the idea that IL is “about people’s ability to operate effectively in an information society”, and that IL is not just a set of skills, but incorporates lifelong learning and the capacity and nous to effectively access and participate in the information society (Kirton & Barham, 2005). Therefore, information literacy is more than a set of skills.

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). (2002). Start with the child. Report of the CILIP Working Group on library provision for children and young people. London : CILIP, pp. 36-50.

Hamilton, B. (2011). The School Librarian as Teacher: What kind of teacher are you? Knowledge Quest, 39(5), pp. 34-40.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information. Wagga Wagga : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment. (2011). School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy: What does it mean to academic libraries?. College & Research Libraries News,71(10), 532-567.

Kirton, J. & Barham, L. (2005). Information Literacy in the Workplace. The Australian Library Journal. Retrieved from

Kuhlthau, C.C., Heinstrom, J. & Todd, R.J. (2008). The ‘information search process’ revisited: is the model still useful?. Information Research, 13(4). Retrieved from

Langford, L. (1998). Information Literacy: A Clarification. From Now On: The Educational Technology Journal, 4(1), 59-72. Retrieved from

Warlick, D. (2007). Literacy in the New Information Landscape. Library Media Connection, August/September, 20-21.

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