Information literacy

We live in an information society where the creation, distribution, use, integration and manipulation of information is a significant economic, political, and cultural activity and where it has become increasingly clear that we cannot learn everything we need to know in our field of study in a few years of university.  Information literacy equips us with the skills needed to become independent lifelong learners.

According to the Alexandria Proclamation:

“Information Literacy lies at the core of lifelong learning.  It empowers people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals. It is a basic human right in a digital world and promotes social inclusion of all nations.”

As depicted in this video by Angela Green, true information literacy involves both thinking and doing, and encapsulates the knowledge and skills of identifying when and what information we need, where to locate it, how to manage it, how to authenticate and critically evaluate it and how to use and attribute it appropriately.


Information literacy is important because it allows us to cope with what David Shenk refers to as the “data smog” (or the idea that too much information can create a barrier in our lives) by giving us the skills to know when we need information and where to locate it effectively and efficiently.

There are a number of information literacy models, some of which are claimed to be inflexible, out-of-date and even hard to apply in practice.  The SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy: Core Model, revised in 2012 from the original 1999 model, recognises that the information world itself is constantly changing and developing and provides for flexibility in its definition of the core skills and competencies (ability) and attitudes and behaviours (understanding) at the heart of information literacy development in higher education.

– SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy

The circular nature of this model demonstrates that becoming information literate is not a linear process and proposes that a person can be developing within several pillars simultaneously and independently as they progress through their learning life.

The SCONUL Core Model details a set of generic skills and understandings in seven “pillars”, with each pillar additionally described by a series of statements relating to a set of skills or competencies, attitudes and behaviours.

Are you an information literate person?

Information literate people:

  • Are able to identify a personal need for information
  • Can assess current knowledge and identify gaps
  • Can construct strategies for locating information and data
  • Can locate and access the information and data they need
  • Can review the research process and compare and evaluate information and data
  • Can organise information professionally and ethically
  • Can apply the knowledge gained

I’ve had a lot of fun creating this  interactive module which takes you through the criteria listed above.


Click on the image



Association of College and Research Libraries:
Wikipedia – Information Society:
Wikipedia – Data Smog:
The SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy: Core Model

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