In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Introduction
  • John Crawford (bio)

The term "information literacy" was coined in 1974 by Paul Zurkowski (1974), and its origins were not specifically located in higher education. Zurkowski used the phrase to describe the "techniques and skills" known by the information literate "for utilizing the wide range of information tools as well as primary sources in molding information solutions to their problems." In this issue, several of the authors examine and critique various policy documents from different standpoints. A key early and enduring document is the Association of College and Research Libraries Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report (Association of College and Research Libraries [ACRL], 1989). The committee outlined six principal recommendations: to "reconsider the ways we have organized information institutionally, structured information access, and defined information's role in our lives at home in the community, and in the work place"; to promote "public awareness of the problems created by information illiteracy"; to develop a national research agenda related to information and its use; to ensure the existence of "a climate conducive to students' becoming information literate"; to include information literacy concerns in teacher education; and to promote public awareness of the relationship between information literacy and the more general goals of "literacy, productivity, and democracy."

This wide-ranging statement shows that a clear role was identified for information literacy in the workplace, lifelong learning, and as a civil and civic right. Nevertheless information literacy has come to be primarily identified with education and especially, higher education. As Annemaree Lloyd points out in her article, the locus of information literacy is narrow and reporting focuses on the application of information literacy programs in academic or school libraries. The key role of academic libraries is not hard to understand. Higher education librarians inhabit a world where research is the norm and funding sources to support information literacy [End Page 257] research are often available. Higher education librarians can cooperate with teaching colleagues interested in independent learning and both groups can work together to develop appropriate pedagogies in which information literacy has a key role. The information seeking practices of staff and students are perceived to be particularly interesting and worthy of research but as Annemaree points out, "Everyday activities offer opportunities for people to become stirred into the information landscape." This issue seeks to refocus information literacy in different directions by reviewing information literacy research outside higher education with a particular interest in policy making.

Although all the authors have their own agendas, recurring themes emerge. As several authors point out, information literacy as a concept loses its authority when it moves outside the information world, which raises the issue of targeting stakeholder groups who are likely to be sympathetic to the concept. As I discovered when directing the Scottish Information Literacy Project, information literacy is widely practiced outside the conventional library and information environment but little recognized as such. Several of the authors critique well-known policy documents, such as the Prague Declaration (2003) and the Alexandria Proclamation (Garner, 2006), although not necessarily from the same standpoint and what information literacy actually is attracts lengthy discussion. The problem of relying on general educational policy documents attracts a lot of attention, mainly from American authors. Although contributors were sought from as wide a spectrum as possible, the lack of an extended discussion on the role of public libraries in promoting information literacy to the wider community is notable. Public libraries can have a key role in promoting information literacy as an employability, personal health management, and life skill (Crawford & Irving, in press).

Contents of the Issue

Information literacy has not been chosen as a subject for an issue of Library Trends since the 1991 issue, "Toward Information Literacy—Innovative Perspectives for the 1990s" (Huston, 1991). This issue was heavily focused on the higher education sector and in particular what was then known as bibliographic instruction. Since then, research, development, and practitioner activity has moved on and activity, research, and development work around information literacy, is taking place in career choice and management, employability training, skills development, workplace decision making, adult literacies training and community learning and development, scholastic education, lifelong learning, and health and media literacies. Information literacy has matured...


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pp. 257-261
Launched on MUSE
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