Libraries and the Internet Toolkit
Information Literacy/Digital Citizenship
The ALA Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report states: “Information literate people know how to find, evaluate, and use information effectively to solve a particular problem or make a decision. . .” Information literacy skills allow individuals to use the power of the Internet to help answer their informational needs; the lack of such skills leaves library users without the ability to navigate the vast resources of the Internet in efficient and effective ways. Although we live in the “information age” and children seem “connected” from birth, research has shown that people need education in developing skills that will help them use the Internet effectively. Libraries can serve as primary training providers to help meet this need.
IN PUBLIC LIBRARIES
Even in areas in which children are well served by fully developed information literacy curricula in their schools, adults may have little or no training in seeking and evaluating information on the Internet, and parents may seek training in guiding their children in Internet use. Public libraries may find that a clearly organized program of workshops, interest groups, and training on specific programs and searching techniques would be well received and fulfill a need for library users otherwise not reached by formal education programs. In areas where schools provide little Internet training, public librarians may choose to offer information literacy programs to children and young adults, as well.
IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES
The Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL) published Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, which defines information literacy broadly, encompassing competencies that support successful use of the resources available on the Internet. While the five standards focus largely on the needs of students conducting academic research, they also outline the need for students to understand appropriate use of information and tools on the Internet. Ideally, these skills would build on information literacy training students had already received through their K-12 education and/or public libraries.
IN SCHOOL LIBRARIES
The Standards for the 21-Century Learner, issued by the American Association for School Librarians (AASL), ground information literacy skills in the digital world of 21st-century learning. The four AASL standards and K-12 indicators include the information skills that students need, whether they are using print- or Web-based resources, to inquire, gain knowledge, draw conclusions, create new knowledge, participate in the ethical and productive exchange of ideas, and pursue personal learning. They emphasize critical and creative thinking, as well as the use of multiple sources, diverse formats and information technology tools. Most importantly, these standards call for students to critically evaluate sources, seek alternative viewpoints, and apply their knowledge to new situations.
SITES FOR INFORMATION LITERACY LESSON PLANS:
American Association of School Libraries. Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Chicago: American Association of School Libraries, 2007.
Association of College and Research Libraries. Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2000.