Digital and information literacy
Amongst the numerous definitions of Information Literacy (IL) developed by various groups, we favour the most frequently cited definition, created by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).
CILIP defines Information Literacy as:
'...knowing when and why you need information, where to find it and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner. Information literacy has relevance for democracy and active citizenship and is something which happens or needs to happen outside of formal education and throughout an individual's lifetime as well as within educational institutions. (CILIP, 2017)
Digital Literacy (DL) takes this definition of IL and relates it to the digital age. Joint Information Systems Committee (Jisc) describes digital literacies as ‘those capabilities which support living, learning and working in a digital society’ (Jisc 2016) This approach identifies Information Literacy as a contributory element of Digital Literacy but, for the purposes of this statement, these terms are viewed hand-in-hand in an over-arching approach that seeks to incorporate awareness and evaluation of information in both digital and non-digital formats.
In higher education, information and digital literacies are positioned with academic literacy, developed through study and research in an academic subject area. Information literacy underpins transferable skills, such as employability skills, in a broader context. Library Services also supports CPD for researchers and University staff.
We also recognise and admire ANCIL (A New Curriculum for Information Literacy) which takes a holistic view of IL and its association with other literacies, and highlights the intersection between IL and academic literacies via tuition in study skills.
Library Services aims to support the University’s Academic Vision 2015-20 by equipping graduates with the necessary skills to locate, handle and reuse information in order to scaffold their subject learning (thus supporting retention and engagement), and to enhance their employability.
Library Services aims to contribute to the employability of each student by:
- collaborating with the Schools to integrate digital and information literacies into all taught programmes
- supporting both academic and PSD staff in enhancing their own information literacy skills
- enhancing student life chances by equipping graduates with real world employability skills
- enabling excellence in research and scholarship
- strengthening the message that IL relates to competencies that are well-recognised in the reality of the workplace
IL as an attribute of London Met graduates
- competently analyse a personal, academic or professional information need
- devise effective strategies and choose appropriate tools for locating the required information
- evaluate and assess fitness of information found to the task at hand
- synthesize and communicate information ethically and effectively
Library Services will support individuals in the development of the skills necessary to find, evaluate, use, manage and communicate effectively in order to enhance each student’s competency for study, research and employment.
A 2015 Universities UK report distinguishes between 'core skills' and 'employability skills':
'Although an imperfect definition, for clarity purposes, the term ‘core skills' here refers to literacy, numeracy and IT, while 'employability' refers to a longer list including .... analytical skills, problem solving, communication...'
Information Literacy encompasses many of the employability skills outlined in this report.
Through the delivery of appropriate IL support, our students will:
- recognise the need for quality in information and data from reputable sources
- be able to evaluate and compare information
- be able to implement effective search strategies
- understand and appreciate that information is created by others and correctly reference when this is the case in order to avoid plagiarism
- have the ability to communicate information and data effectively
- appreciate the need for appropriate behaviours in the digital environment
Our Academic Liaison Librarians will work to create digital and IL proficiencies by providing group and individual support, both face-to-face and online, within a subject context. We will seek to work with colleagues in the Schools and PSDs to ensure that students and staff alike are equipped with the necessary skills to enhance their future life experiences, whether through lifelong learning or in the workplace.
References and Further Reading
CILIP (2018) Information Literacy Skills. Available at: https://infolit.org.uk/ILdefinitionCILIP2018.pdf (Accessed: 3 August 2018)
JISC (2016) Developing Digital Literacies. Available at: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/developing-digital-literacies (Accessed: 2 June 2017)
London Metropolitan University (2015) Strategic Plan 2015-20. Available at: http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/about/our-university/strategic-plan-2015-20/ (Accessed: 2 June 2017)
Secker, J. and Coonan, E. (2011) A New Curriculum for Information Literacy. Executive Summary. Available at: http://ccfil.pbworks.com/f/Executive_summary.pdf (Accessed: 2 June 2017)
Universities UK (2015) Supply & Demand for Higher Level Skills. Available at: http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Pages/supply-and-demand-for-higher-level-skills.aspx (Accessed: 2 June 2017)