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Media Literacy

media literacy and fluency; information literacy and fluency; fake news

Definitions & Standards

"Information Literacy in a Nutshell" created by David L. Rice Library on YouTube. Accessed 2016.


Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." 1 Information literacy also is increasingly important in the contemporary environment of rapid technological change and proliferating information resources. Because of the escalating complexity of this environment, individuals are faced with diverse, abundant information choices--in their academic studies, in the workplace, and in their personal lives. Information is available through libraries, community resources, special interest organizations, media, and the Internet--and increasingly, information comes to individuals in unfiltered formats, raising questions about its authenticity, validity, and reliability. In addition, information is available through multiple media, including graphical, aural, and textual, and these pose new challenges for individuals in evaluating and understanding it. The uncertain quality and expanding quantity of information pose large challenges for society. The sheer abundance of information will not in itself create a more informed citizenry without a complementary cluster of abilities necessary to use information effectively.

Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. American Library Association. 2006. (Accessed June 4, 2013). Library instruction sessions, LibGuides and the Research 101 course are based on these standards. Information literacy skills are essential in today's world. Student development of information literacy is a process that spans the entire college experience.

Information literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner.

Information literacy is the ability to recognize the extent and nature of an information need, then to locate, evaluate, and effectively use the needed information. (Plattsburgh State Information and Computer Literacy Task Force, 2001)

Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. An information literate individual is able to:

  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose

Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally  (from Unitec Institute of Technology in New Zealand)

  • Information literacy is…..the set of skills enabling students to recognize when they need information, how to competently locate it from appropriate sources and evaluate its use and potential. Being able to critically evaluate and effectively use information does not just create successful students, it makes them independent lifelong learners, helping them succeed in the workplace and beyond.

Through IL instruction, students learn to:​

  • Recognize the need for information and determines the nature and extent of the information needed.
  • Find needed information effectively and efficiently.
  • Critically evaluate information and the information seeking process.
  • Manage information collected or generated.
  • Apply prior and new information to construct new concepts or create new understandings.
  • Use information with understanding and acknowledge cultural, ethical, economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information.

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