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academic libraries, Digital Literacy, digital trends, future of libraries, Information Literacy, Social Media

Information and Digital Literacy – what does it mean to you?

by Leigh Bunton

In a recent MmITS committee meeting, we were discussing possible themes to underpin our group activities throughout the year. Information Literacy was mentioned and we agreed it was a likely contender for future consideration, but I confess I didn’t give the concept much thought beyond the meeting. I was then given the chance to be involved in a research interview looking at what both Information and Digital Literacy means for the ‘new generation’ of professionals who are now expected to keep up with rapid developments in information technology and how it impacts on every aspect of information provision.

I’ve been interested in updating my technology, cloud computing and social media skills for some time now, so these research questions motivated me to discover how my developing digital knowledge is connected to the Information Literacy aims of my own academic library. What is certain is that, with the advent of a student body more savvy than ever before in the use and potential of mobile devices, they have a justifiable expectation that university information and library services will be able to provide information in a range of formats and also offer the skills to help them navigate these tools and resources effectively.

Within my sector, Information Literacy skills have been formalised in SCONUL’s ‘Seven Pillars of Information Literacy’, which categorises core information skills for higher education under the headings of Identity, Scope, Plan, Gather, Evaluate, Manage and Present. Although originally published in 1999, it was updated in 2011 to take account of ‘the range of different terminologies and concepts which we now understand as Information Literacy’, one such concept being Digital Literacy. Within my own academic library, a ‘Mobile Strategy’ has recently been developed that places digital information literacy at the core of current and future services provided by library staff, so it’s perhaps not before time that I have decided to gain these new skills for myself.

But what is the best way to gain these skills? In the absence of work-based initiatives, I’ve been following the excellent ‘23 Things’ courses for Professional Development and Web 2.0, but they are not specific to my information service. Every sector has different guidelines for what Information Literacy means within that particular environment, whether for higher education (as above), health information or research – each has its own unique requirements. So the question is – what does Information and Digital Literacy mean to you and your sector? How have you gained these skills or do you feel they are lacking? What training has worked for you or what do you feel is missing from your professional development in terms of Information and Digital Literacy? How do you see the requirements for these skills evolving? It would be great to hear other people’s experiences in this area.

If you are also part of the ‘new generation’ born after 1976, currently working in library or information management related environment, and you would like to take part in the research project I mentioned previously, please contact Dr Konstantina Martzoukou, Lecturer and Course Leader (MSc Information & Library Studies), The Robert Gordon University: k.martzoukou@rgu.ac.uk. The aim of this research is to understand how best to prepare future information professionals for library work and to support their continuing professional development in view of the increasing complexity of our information environments. Part of this research will also focus on the development of an online network of practice that will foster the exchange of information and communication among young professionals, so your view matters!

More posts about Information Literacy.

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