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What Is Information Literacy?

New technology has greatly expanded both the volume of information and the means by which it is accessed. With such an enormous quantity of data available, the ability to find, critically evaluate, and communicate information becomes absolutely necessary in order to select reliable sources. Students may erroneously believe that locating accurate relevant information is only a matter of typing a word or two in the Google search box. However, information literacy goes beyond knowing how to use the technology connecting one to information.

Faculty are all too aware of this tendency and its results. Finding high-quality information is now more difficult than ever, not easier or quicker. The main purpose behind a library instruction program is to create information literate students. The Association of College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education states that "information literacy is 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.”

Information literacy forms the basis for life-long learning, the ultimate goal of education, and is common to all disciplines, all learning environments, and to all levels of education. The information literate person is able to recognize when information is needed, to locate, manage, evaluate, and to use information ethically for research, decision-making, and continued professional development in an ethical manner.