Skip to content

Information Literacy


Definition | Resources


What is Information Literacy?

Information literacy is the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, evaluate, and use information effectively.

It includes a number of proficiencies that educated people need to function effectively in the information age, for example, the abilities to think critically and to use information technology. Information literacy also involves developing skills and habits of mind that foster lifelong learning.

Jeremy Shapiro's brief article, Information Literacy as a Liberal Art, is worth reading for its exploration of what it means to be a "full-fledged, competent and literate member of the information society."

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has developed the following 5 standards for information literacy. Here is a printable list including performance indicators and outcomes for each. For a discussion of the standards and their use, please see ACRL's page.

Standard One: The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.

Standard Two: The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.

Standard Three: The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.

Standard Four: The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.

Standard Five: The information literate student understands the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.

Information Literacy Resources

Information and ITC Literacy in the CSU. The CSU's "teaching commons" site for information literacy has a wealth of theoretical and practical resources.

The California State University Information Competence Initiative gathers information about the Initiative, sponsored by the CSU Chancellor's Office, Resources for Teaching and Learning, Systemwide Resources, and Other Resources.

A Checklist of Information Competencies for College Students. The list is divided into lower- and upper-division competencies. "This checklist is a collaborative work by a team of California State University and California community college librarians... We hope it will ... serve as a resource for planning and assessing information literacy programs."

The National Forum on Information Literacy is a coalition of 75 educational, business, and government organizations working to promote awareness of information literacy's importance. The links to Info Literacy Definitions, Publications, and Related Sites-including general Sites; college and University Programs; Information Literacy Competencies; Models of Instruction; Tutorials, and more-are of most interest.

Here are links of importance to Humboldt State University's Information Literacy Program:

HSU Library's Information Literacy & Research Instruction

Stoob Report and Attachment, submitted 1995 - This report contains the campus' original definition and guidelines for an information literacy program.