Reconsidering information literacy.Abstract
The delineated de·lin·e·ate
tr.v. de·lin·e·at·ed, de·lin·e·at·ing, de·lin·e·ates
1. To draw or trace the outline of; sketch out.
2. To represent pictorially; depict.
3. information explosion inevitably prompted moves---via the information literacy Several conceptions and definitions of information literacy have become prevalent. For example, one conception defines information literacy in terms of a set of competencies that an informed citizen of an information society ought to possess to participate intelligently and concept---to help survive the ensuing en·sue
intr.v. en·sued, en·su·ing, en·sues
1. To follow as a consequence or result. See Synonyms at follow.
2. To take place subsequently. problematic information deluge Deluge (dĕl`yj), in the Bible, the overwhelming flood that covered the earth and destroyed every living thing except the family of Noah and the creatures in his ark. through effective retrieval, evaluation, and efficient use. However, there are insistent calls for conceptual reconsideration because of the emerged negative connotation con·no·ta·tion
1. The act or process of connoting.
a. An idea or meaning suggested by or associated with a word or thing: of "literacy" in this teaching-learning concept.
The much-heralded information explosion provided the opportunity for society to consider ways of instituting beneficial survival techniques for effective access, evaluation, and use of the ensuing information deluge. One of the seminal occurrences in this control-for-access move was the astute observation by Paul Zurkowski whose call for the conscious grooming of "information literates" (Behrens 1994, 310) duly heralded the information literacy (IL) concept (see Lee n.d.). A most likely profession--library and information science--unsurprisingly adopted this concept. From this perspective numerous writers have covered both prevailing and emerging issues (e.g., Breivik 1998; Breivik & Gee 1989; Bruce & Lampson 2002). In sum, this concept is aptly encapsulated in Behren's (1994, 310) conceptual and historical overview in which she highlights the "efficient and effective information location and utilization" essence of IL. The functional literacy aspect of IL has also been discussed by many a writer (e.g., Kuhlthau 1987). Unsurprisingly, a logical extension of the lifelong learning Lifelong learning is the concept that "It's never too soon or too late for learning", a philosophy that has taken root in a whole host of different organisations. Lifelong learning is attitudinal; that one can and should be open to new ideas, decisions, skills or behaviors. attribute of IL is the movement for lifelong access.  However, the pertinent literature attests to the divided opinions on this concept.
Inevitably, an information society has been created in which ready access to information has become crucial (see entries in Harrod's Librarians' Glossary, 1995; Lievrouw's entry in Encyclopedia of Communication and Information, 2002). A helpfully pertinent entry in the Dictionary of Library and Information Science (2004) provides both an illuminating definition and a conceptual framework For the concept in aesthetics and art criticism, see .
A conceptual framework is used in research to outline possible courses of action or to present a preferred approach to a system analysis project. for another look at this dominant concept:
Skill in finding the information one needs, including an understanding of how libraries are organized, familiarity with the resources they provide ... and knowledge of commonly used research techniques. The concept also includes the skills required to critically evaluate information content and employ it effectively, as well as an understanding of the technological infrastructure on which information transmission is based, including its social, political, and cultural context and impact. Synonymous with information skills. Compare with computer literacy (italics in the original).
This concept is now international (Ford 1994) thereby demonstrating the inexorable global march from traditional literacy---the 3Rs---to the burgeoning movement of change-reflective multiliteracies or multiple literacies. Although discussing the global learning concept, Ploman (1986, xxv) duly highlighted the changing realities and the current inadequacy of traditional literacy and observes how that "is now complemented by the expressed need for new, modern forms of literacy."
Delivery Approaches, Assessment and Standards
How do we fill the gap in the knowledge base of those identified as in need of information literacy? There is abundant literature on how to address this through the teaching-learning enterprise. For example, Shinew and Waiter's (2003) edited compilation of pertinent contributions on IL instruction for educators and another notable edited compilation--by Jacobson and Gatti (2001)--all highlight the delivery of IL; but a delineated persistent problem is the teaching of the cut-and-paste "Net generation" (Geck 2006; Roth 1999). Problematic in that that instant gratification generation is showing lack of the requisite discriminating and critical evaluation of the disparate sources of information and the need to appreciate the ethical issues of copyright and citing.
To promote ongoing assessment and ensure acceptable standards, some writers and institutions have proffered guidelines (e.g., Association of College & Research Libraries 2000; Maughan 2001; Meade & Dugger 2005). Should the delivery method be a stand-alone approach or across-curriculum integration? This central pedagogical ped·a·gog·ic also ped·a·gog·i·cal
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of pedagogy.
2. Characterized by pedantic formality: a haughty, pedagogic manner. question is prevalent in the literature with Breivik and Gee's (1989) "integrated learning" approach clearly dominating. Others have endorsed this integration approach as one of the "best practices" (e.g., Labelle & Nicholson 2005; Marcum 2002). 
Technology and its Aftermath
It is well documented that the technology-driven information explosion inevitably led to the quest for Verb 1. quest for - go in search of or hunt for; "pursue a hobby"
quest after, go after, pursue
look for, search, seek - try to locate or discover, or try to establish the existence of; "The police are searching for clues"; "They are searching for the a "new literacy" (Breivik 1998, 1)--a need to address the emerging complex nature of information. The literature also attests to some inadvertent problems traceable to technology; for example, the emerged technostress Technostress is the negative psychological link between people and the introduction of new technologies. Whereas ergonomics is the study of how humans react and physically fit with machines in their environment, technostress (Brod 1984; Kupersmith 1992; Van Fleet & Wallace 2003; Wallace & Van Fleet 2001) and the newly delineated technocomplacency phenomenon (Doku 2006)--the former manifesting the stress and ensuing anxiety, and the latter technology-engendered smugness smug
adj. smug·ger, smug·gest
Exhibiting or feeling great or offensive satisfaction with oneself or with one's situation; self-righteously complacent: . The ensuing dominance of technology is also prevalent in the literature (e.g., Monke 2006; Swiss & Herman 2000; Taylor 2004; Wagner & Kozma 2003). Toffler's (1980, xxiii) metaphor of "colliding waves of change" creating a "new civilization" (p. xx) amply heralds this new era.
Inevitably, rapid technological advances have produced unforeseen circumstances, with regard to the change-and-anxiety phenomenon. Since Mellon's (1986) seminal library anxiety theory (see Brown, Weingart, Johnson, & Dance 2004) many writers have highlighted how the unprecedented pace of technological change is generating anxiety in the general populace (Atlas 2005; Gold 2005; Gross 2005; Jiao jiao also chiao
n. pl. jiao also chiao
See Table at currency.
[Chinese ji & Onwuegbuzie 2004; Labelle & Nicholson 2005; Shoham & Mirachi 2001; Tenopir 1990; Van Scoyoc 2003; Wagner 2006). Kaplan (2000, 208) aptly observes that the discourse is "saturated with familiar anxieties, and the vague forebodings of loss that so frequently accompany technological change." Therefore, for an effective IL process this emerged "negative affective" state (Jiao & Onwuegbuzie 2004, 138) demands serious consideration in the bid to alleviate anxiety.
Pejorative pejorative Medtalk Bad…real bad Misgivings and Rethinking Agitation
The prevailing intellectual dominance of IL does not necessarily imply ringing endorsement. This apparent anomaly has much to do with the l-word in information literacy. Who is information literate and, conversely, who is information illiterate ILLITERATE. This term is applied to one unacquainted with letters.
2. When an ignorant man, unable to read, signs a deed or agreement, or makes his mark instead of a signature, and he alleges, and can provide that it was falsely read to him, he is not bound by ?
Golden's encyclopedia entry (International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences The International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences was first published in 1968. Edited by David L. Sills and Robert K. Merton. See also
The exact nature of the criterion varies, so that illiteracy must be defined in each case before the term can be used in a meaningful . Literacy thus refers to the degree of dissemination among a society's population of the dual skills of reading and writing" (italics in the original).
Unsurprisingly, this circumscribed circumscribed /cir·cum·scribed/ (serk´um-skribd) bounded or limited; confined to a limited space.
Bounded by a line; limited or confined. definition of traditional literacy is also highlighted in Olson's literacy discussion of the concept of "literate competence" in the International Encyclopedia of Education (1994) where he discusses the persistent unease with this definition: 'People who could not read or write came to be regarded as rude, ignorant, and "illiterate."' In essence, 'the appellation ap·pel·la·tion
1. A name, title, or designation.
2. A protected name under which a wine may be sold, indicating that the grapes used are of a specific kind from a specific district.
3. The act of naming. "illiterate" has pejorative connotations implying serious human failing.' However, as is evident in the literature, context-dependent literacy has changed with the times--manifested in an expanding reconceptualization. Zwaan and Dijkstra's literacy contribution in the Encyclopedia of Education (2003) aptly reiterate this trend of "the role of diverse media and new technologies in broadening conceptions of literacy: multiliteracies, information literacies" (italics in the original). It is this highlighted pejorative connotation, with regard to the implied contrasting illiteracy traceable to the circumscribed definition of traditional literacy, which is causing predictable ripples in some quarters. Inevitably, some have called for a rethinking and, trenchantly, for the outright jettisoning of IL. As indicated, this emerged negative factor is a persistent subject of intense debate.
Langford (2000, 18) aptly sums up the prevailing dichotomous di·chot·o·mous
1. Divided or dividing into two parts or classifications.
2. Characterized by dichotomy.
di·chot mood of "grappl[ing] with semantics." In this regard, some have expressed misgivings with the IL concept and, thus, called for new definitions (e.g., Foster 1993; Gorman 1998; Marcum 2002). For example, Snavely and Cooper (1997) highlight the resulting debate regarding the "ambiguity" surrounding the IL "fad." Foster (1993, l) also discusses the prevailing "near-missionary zeal" portrayal by IL adherents in the literature. McCrank's (1991) scathing condemnation of IL as a "bogus bandwagon," "hoopla hoop·la
a. Boisterous, jovial commotion or excitement.
b. Extravagant publicity: The new sedan was introduced to the public with much hoopla.
2. ," and outright sloganeering slo·gan·eer
A person who invents or uses slogans.
intr.v. slo·gan·eered, slo·gan·eer·ing, slo·gan·eers
To invent or use slogans.
Noun 1. further highlights the critics' perspectives. While acknowledging the prevailing reality of multiliteracies, Marcum (2002) also calls for a rethinking of IL. In acknowledging the definitional controversy surrounding IL Owusu-Ansah (2003) nevertheless calls for accommodation. Is "fluency"--as in "information fluency" and "technological fluency"--a more acceptable word? Some critics of the negative connotation of "literacy" have advanced such a shift (e.g., Mani Mani (mä`nē): see Manichaeism.
or Manes or Manichaeus
(born April 14, 216, southern Babylonia—died 274?, Gundeshapur) Persian founder of Manichaeism. 2004; Marcum 2002; Rader 2002). Yes, the debate is joined but there is no resolution in sight.
The teaching-learning IL concept entails relatively new functional literacy competencies in the information society era; an age that heralded inevitable Tofflerian change-cum-anxiety. In a technology-driven world of rapid change traditional literacy is deemed inadequate. The need for effective retrieval, evaluation, and use of information is the core of IL. The lifelong learning aspect of IL is indisputable but this ideal, as highlighted, should be based on lifelong ready access to information. Here, the laudable laud·a·ble
Healthy; favorable. initiatives of the lifelong access movement should be broadened across the general population--from its aged focus--as a necessary support for lifelong learning.
However, the IL concept has not won a ringing endorsement. Some vociferous detractors have taken issue with the delineated negative connotations of "literacy" in IL. Since the literature attests to the shifting definition of literacy, from traditional to multiliteracies, these detractors have duly called for a radical reconceptualization. Some have advanced new definitions, thus reinforcing Foster's (1993, 344) summative Adj. 1. summative - of or relating to a summation or produced by summation
additive - characterized or produced by addition; "an additive process" contention that "Information literacy is indeed a phrase in quest of a meaning" and, generally, redefinition. Should it be "information fluency" or other reflective terms? Yes, it is established that IL entails effective retrieval, evaluation, and use of information. If that is the case, could we consider more acceptable terms such as information retrieval information retrieval
Recovery of information, especially in a database stored in a computer. Two main approaches are matching words in the query against the database index (keyword searching) and traversing the database using hypertext or hypermedia links. , evaluation and use (IREU) or selective information retrieval, evaluation and use (SIREU)? In calling for a radical rethinking we should not lose sight of the lingering problem with the literacy-illiteracy dichotomy and its implied negativity.
Association of College and Research Libraries. Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education higher education
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Doku, Ed.D., is Assistant Professor of Library Science