Abstract

Information literacy has been proclaimed as a foundational literacy of the twenty-first century by many researchers, library practitioners, and international agencies. However, there is still disagreement about how information literacy is conceptualized and what key elements constitute the practice. This disagreement has led to the practice/skills debate that has emerged from workplace research into information literacy. It has also led to claims that research into information literacy lacks theoretical framing from which models can be grounded. While the library and higher education sector concentrate on information skills that are claimed to be generic and transferable, there is little evidence from workplace research to suggest that this is indeed the case. In fact, the opposite appears to be true: that information literacy is enacted as a situated, collective, and embodied practice that engages people with information and knowledge about domains of action that are authorized by the discourses of the setting. Consequently the information skills and competencies that are developed reflect the discursive practices of the setting. Without information literacy, other work-related practices and performances couldn't be accomplished; however, the continued focus on skills limits our ability to understand information literacy as a socially enacted practice, one that is constructed through a range of social activities. The issue therefore is how to represent the social activities that underpin information literacy. This article conceptualizes information literacy from a workplace perspective and presents ongoing work toward a theoretical framework. It advances the view that information literacy appears to be trapped between "a rock and a hard place." The rock is the current conception of information literacy, which is unsatisfactory, because it is confined by the discursive practices of the education sector and does not account for the complex social processes that inform learning to work. The hard place is the translation of information literacy practice with an understanding of how this practice happens, that is, from the education sector into workplace performance. Drawing from empirical studies, this article will explore the current key issues related to workplace information literacy.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0682
Print ISSN
0024-2594
Pages
pp. 277-296
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Open Access
No
Archive Status
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