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What is Information Literacy?

The ACRL Information Literacy Framework states: "Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning." 

Information literacy is today’s “4th R” of basic literacy, complementing the “readin’, ’ritin’, and ’rithmetic” of the early days of American education with “retrieval”—it is a survival skill for the Age of Information. The ability to access, manage, and utilize information to make decisions and solve problems is a necessary competence for effective participation in the 21st century. 

Some measure of learner self-reliance is a fundamental assumption of distributed learning. In a world of infinite information, self-reliance in accessing and managing appropriate information is a daunting challenge. Competence in navigating the complex universe of information for both learning and work requires information literacy.

Marcum, J. (2004). Information literacy. In Encyclopedia of distributed learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Retrieved from

Information Literacy

Information Literacy

Click and watch this 2 minute Keynote Address on the topic of Information Literacy.


National Information Literacy Month


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                                           October 1, 2009



President Barak H. Obama – National Information Literacy Awareness Month, October 2009

“Every day, we are inundated with vast amounts of information.  A 24-hour news cycle and thousands of global television and radio networks, coupled with an immense array of online resources, have challenged our long-held perceptions of information management. Rather than merely possessing data, we must also learn the skills necessary to acquire, collate, and evaluate information for any situation. This new type of literacy also requires competency with communication technologies, including computers and mobile devices that can help in our day-to-day decision making. National Information Literacy Awareness Month highlights the need for all Americans to be adept in the skills necessary to effectively navigate the Information Age.”

President Barack Obama, 2009

On October 1, 2009, President Barack Obama’s issued a proclamation establishing October as National Information Literacy Awareness Month.  The evolution of this proclamation was a result of a joint petition submitted directly to the White House by Senator John F. Kerry and Senator Edward M. Kennedy on behalf of the National Forum on Information Literacy. Both senators agreed that preparing Americans to seek highly skilled jobs and compete successfully in a global marketplace was a top priority within our current economic recovery efforts.

One of the most effective ways to hasten our economic recovery and ensure our nation’s long-term stability is to make the development of human capital the cornerstone of U.S. economic policy.   In the 21st  century, information literacy lies at the heart of such development.

The need for an information literate citizenry was first articulated in the 1989 American Library Association’s (ALA) Presidential Committee on Information Literacy Report.  The report recognized that the advent of the Information Age created a seismic shift in not only how we should teach and learn, but also how we should live and work in the 21st  century.   With the arrival of the Internet and the World Wide Web came a whole new set of basic skills. The 3Rs alone – reading, writing, and arithmetic – no longer represented the basic literacy skills needed by all Americans to achieve educational and workplace success in this new millennium.

History of Information Literary Standards

Considering Information Literacy

Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.

As the American Library Association Presidential Committee on Information Literacy(January 10, 1989, Washington, D.C.) says “Ultimately, information literate people are those who have learned how to learn. They know how to learn because they know how knowledge is organized, how to find information, and how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them. They are people prepared for lifelong learning, because they can always find the information needed for any task or decision at hand.” 

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, access and use information ethically and legally