November 9, 2005
What's our responsibility for the "L" in IL?
StatsCan has released the results of the 2003 International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey and found that 42% of Canadian adults 16-65 scored lower than "the desired threshold for coping with the increasing skill demands of a knowledge society." In my province of New Brunswick, 56% of adults scored at this low level. The test looks at four areas: prose literacy (understanding and using information from texts), document literacy (locating and using information in various formats), numeracy, and problem solving. (The StatsCan document has examples of the kinds of questions asked in each area.)
So this got me thinking -- what is the responsibility of the IL instructional community to deal with these issues? I'll admit that for me, literacy without the "information" in front of it didn't really seem to be my affair; in a university setting, it was something I took for granted. Well, university educated adults do appear in that 42% of low scorers (according to a CBC online news story, 12% of university graduates scored below that "desired threshold" but I can't find that info in the StatsCan release -- maybe it will be in the full report coming out at the end of the month). So can I really pretend that literacy isn't my concern? How can someone who can't read and understand a text be able to think about evaluating bias or intended audience? Can you be "information literate" (hate that term!) without being literate?
June 20, 2005
Information literacy and the role of national library and information associations
Title: Information literacy and the role of national library and information associations
Author(s): Nicholas Joint; Jake Wallis
Journal: Library Review
Year: 2005 Volume: 54 Number: 4 Page: 213 -- 217
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Abstract: Purpose - To investigate the role of national library associations both in promoting information literacy and in advancing the interests of the practitioner library and information worker. Design/methodology/approach - An opinion piece based on information literacy practice world-wide and recent debate on the role of national association and professional organisations in the UK. Findings - The dynamic role of associations for the library and information profession in a variety of countries world-wide gives an indication of how the profession should use its own national association. Research limitations/implications - This is purely an expression of opinion about the value of the relationship between national associations for the library and information profession and the promotion of information literacy. Practical implications - Gives some insight into how a national professional association is uniquely positioned to support professional status and encourage job opportunities by forward-looking policy formulation and cross-sectoral leadership, in particular in the area of information literacy. Originality/value - An attempt to validate at practitioner level the impact and importance of a national association by reference to real practice-based examples and demonstrably successful international models.
Most of the article compares the approach in the U.S. with the experience in the UK.
A few quotes from the article:
"the simple fact remains that in national educational policy-making, if an educational activity is not institutionalized, it probably doesn't matter very much"
"national organizational structures do create an enabling environment in which more gets done, and they also create a framework for theories and policies that help the profession progress its aims. The lessons from other countries may well be that the national professional association is an uniquely powerful agent that can create synergies between all the separate elements involved in the national information literacy project."
The article mentions the LILAC conference, and also the importance of not only thinking of IL from the higher education viewpoint, but also school and community level (but leaves out specific mention of IL in the workplace).
The authors mention the ILI-L list, which they conclude (because it includes job postings) has "improved the professional status and remuneration levels of library and information workers in consequence". I may be misrepresenting the intent of what the authors are saying somewhat, but I stopped reading ILI-L a few years ago because I was drowning in postings!