Using Information

[last update 29 September 2003]

Information literacy - the skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information - is an essential foundation for lifelong learning, for equitable intellectual participation in the "Information Age," and for civic engagement in a democratic society.  

KEY ACTION/PRIORITY AREAS: 21st Century Literacy, Library Services/Development/Technology, Equity of Access, Education and Continuous Learning
RELATED ISSUES: Digital Divide, Literacy and Reading, Library Outreach


ALAction 2005:  The American Library Association assists and promotes libraries in helping children and adults develop the skills they need - the ability to read and use computers - understanding that the ability to seek and effectively utilize information resources is essential in a global information society.  (Key Action Area statement)


  • Reading electronic text
  • The "technology literacy" requirement for 8th graders in No Child Left Behind
  • The "intellectual divide" - not just access to technology but the skills to extract and use needed information
  • Reconciling the various literacies - basic literacy, information literacy, civic literacy, computer literacy, numeracy, etc.


  • American Association of School Librarians
  • Association of College and Research Libraries
  • ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services
  • ALA Library Instruction Round Table
  • ALA Divisions


  • National Forum on Information Literacy


  • 1955 - The School Library Bill of Rights was approved: "...School libraries are concerned with generating understanding of American freedoms and with the preservation of these freedoms through the development of informed and responsible citizens..."
  • 1971 - An ACRL Bibliographic Instruction Task Force was formed.
  • 1977 - The initial organizing meeting was held for the Library Instruction Round Table.
  • 1977 - The ACRL Board approved establishment within ACRL of a Bibliographic Instruction Section (now the Instruction Section).
  • 1987 - ALA President Margaret Chisholm appointed the presidential Committee on Information Literacy.  The committee sought to "define information literacy within the higher literacies and its importance to student performance, lifelong learning, and active citizenship."
  • 1989 - The final report of the presidential Committee on Information Literacy defined "information literacy" as the ability to find, analyze and use information.
  • 1989 - A broad-based coalition, including ALA (AASL, ACRL and PLA) was formed - the National Forum on Information Literacy, chaired by Patricia Senn Breivik.
  • 1997 - ACRL created the Institute for Information Literacy, charged with preparing librarians to become effective teachers in information literacy programs, as well as supporting that work and forging coalitions within the education community.
  • 1998 - AASL published Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning.
  • 1998 - ALA/AASL published Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning, school library media program guidelines based on AASL's Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning.
  • 1999 - ACRL launched the annual 3-day Immersion Program to enhance teaching skills and develop campus-wide information literacy programs.
  • 2000 - ACRL received an IMLS National Leadership grant to develop tools and training to assist librarians in assessing student learning outcomes in information literacy courses.
  • 2000 - ACRL published Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education; the Standards were endorsed by AAHE.
  • 2003 - ACRL published Best Practices in Information Literacy.


Issue Summaries

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