Information Literacy policy statement

Definition

"Information literacy is an understanding and a set of abilities enabling individuals to recognise when information is needed and have the capacity to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information."1

An information literate person is able to:

  • recognise a need for information
  • determine the extent of information needed
  • access the needed information efficiently
  • evaluate the information and its sources
  • incorporate selected information into their knowledge base
  • use information effectively to accomplish a purpose
  • understand economic, legal, social and cultural issues in the use of information
  • access and use information ethically and legally
  • classify, store, manipulate and redraft information collected or generated
  • recognise information literacy as a prerequisite for lifelong learning

Context

Information literacy skills and knowledge are essential in a global information environment characterised by constant change and innovation, a multiplicity of formats and media and an explosion in the amount of information of variable quality.

There is increasing global recognition of the importance information literacy skills, both personally and professionally, in this environment.2 In Australia, criteria for expressing standards for information literacy have been established by the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL). The Library of the University of Sydney has adopted these standards as guidelines to provide a framework in which activities can be planned, presented and promoted. The Library acknowledges and affirms its role in advocating, developing and supporting information literacy skills throughout the whole University community.

Information literacy is a generic attribute as it underpins lifelong learning.3

 

Partnerships

Incorporating information literacy across all curricula and programs requires the collaborative efforts of all staff, including academics, librarians and administrators.4

Thus the Library will be a dynamic partner and

  • actively seek opportunities to collaborate with academic staff to introduce, develop and evaluate information literacy within the curriculum and a range of associated programs.
  • work throughout the University community and with external partners such as the Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) to maintain and develop the Library's information literacy program and to share expertise.
  • provide a range of information literacy services throughout the programs, both mainstream and special, which are offered by the University.

Design and delivery

The design and delivery of information literacy programs will be:

  • developed in association with academic staff.
  • for the whole University community, both staff and students.
  • learner-centred and developmental.
  • primarily discipline, subject based.
  • it should be embedded, assessed and ongoing throughout the curriculum and associated programs.
  • based on explicit aims and learning outcomes.

The Library will use the Academic Board's "Guidelines for Good Practice in Teaching and Learning" as a basis for its information literacy programs.5

Evaluation of information literacy programs will be undertaken at various levels.

The Library will continue to develop complementary generic programs where appropriate, for example introductory and orientation programs.

The Library will monitor and evaluate external programs for potential use in its information literacy programs.

Role of Library

  • The development of information literacy skills and knowledge throughout the University community is an essential element of the Library's mission.
  • The responsibility for supporting the development of information literacy knowledge and skills is a partnership between the Library and academic and other University staff.
  • The Library has particular expertise to support staff and students in the development of their own information literacy.
  • Information literacy is an essential priority for the Library, and Library staff will be supported with appropriate:
    • Staff development and training
    • Resources - e.g. teaching spaces, technology.
    • Teaching and learning planning processes.

Notes

1. Information Literacy Standards. Canberra: Council of Australian University Librarians, 2001, p1.

2. Candy, P & Bruce, C (ed) Information literacy around the world: advances in programs and research.
Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, 2000.

3. University of Sydney - Generic Attributes of Graduates of the University of Sydney (PDF)

4. Information Literacy Standards. Canberra: Council of Australian University Librarians, 2001, p3.

5. University of Sydney - Academic Board. Guidelines for good practice in teaching and learning.
[Sydney]: University of Sydney, 2001.