One of the truths about modern society is that “information is everywhere.” Information is a pervasive and essential part of our society and our lives. Humans are, at their essence, processors and users of information. This is not a recent development. Humans have always been dependent upon information to help them make decisions and guide their actions. Increase in the sheer volume of information and the complexity of information systems have come about largely because of advances in information technology.
Information has been considered as an essential commodity and becomes a basic resource for individual development. Thus information lays the foundation of competitive advantage. According to Shera, information is that, “Which is transmitted by the act or process of communication, it may be a message, a signal, a stimulus, it assumes a response in the receiving organism and therefore, possess response potential, its motivation is inherently utilitarian, it is instrumental and it usually is communicated in an organized or formalized pattern, mainly because such formalization increases potential utility.”
In olden days students and academicians were depending on printed source, but now they are using print as well as electronic information resources. Use of the Internet has changed the way we access and use information, which was unimaginable a decade ago. Proficiency with digital technology and online communications are crucial skills based methodologists for conducting evidence-based research in all realms, including the fields of medicine, public health and higher education. As everyday life becomes increasingly digitized, Internet users faced new challenges as they endeavor to solve information problems. Mainly the information explosion has created anxiety among information users on how to reduce the information overload and use information in a more efficient way to complete the task in minimal period of time. The spectacular and extraordinary rapid development of scientific discoveries and knowledge in modern times has inevitably caused an unprecedented accumulation and congestion of information, that for two centuries or more the volumes of scientific knowledge and consequently the volume of scientific information has increased in geometric progression. The volume of literature is doubled in every five and ten years, this causes information explosion in knowledge society. The channels of information resources are becoming more and more in printed as well as in electronic form. The advancement of information and communication technology has not only created an information overload but has also provided the means to reduce the information overload and use information in a more productive way.
One of the means of reducing the information overload or educating to use information in a more productive way is to teach or train information users on how to access, evaluate and use information, which is known as “Information Literacy”. Since 1970’s information literacy skills with subsequent developments in information technology has become essential part of educational learning. The American Library Association Presidential Committee on Information Literacy Report (1989) has stated “Information Literacy is a survival skill in the Information Age”. This statement has emphasized the importance of information literacy skills in information abundant world.
Information Literacy, since Paul Zurkowski, president of the Information Industry Association, first used the term in 1974, has taken place both within and outside the field of library science, not only in the United States but also throughout the world. Librarians have been especially sensitive to the so-called information explosion and its resultant repercussions. The concept of information literacy, which advocates the preparation of the people to be successful users of information, addresses the concerns librarians have with the evolving nature of information sources and the overwhelming amount of information available. Those outside the field of library science have also acknowledged the effects of the exponential growth of information.
The idea of Information Literacy, emerging with the advent of information technologies in early 1970’s, has grown, taken shape and strengthened to become recognized as the critical literacy for the 21′ century. Sometimes interpreted as one of a number of literacy’s, Information Literacy is also described as the overarching literacy essential for twenty first century living. Today Information Literacy is inextricably associated with information practices and critical thinking in the information and communication technology, (Bruce, 2002).
Information Literacy which describes the knowledge and skills needed in all areas such as in studies, in the workplace, and in the everyday life of people in the information rich society of today. An extensive amount of literature has been published on information literacy during the last three decades and the concept is defined differently by different authors; also related terms such as information competency, computer literacy, library literacy, mediacy, media literacy, network or Internet literacy and digital information literacy have been created to emphasize different aspects of the phenomenon.
According to Paul Zurkowski Information Literacy is “People trained in the application of information resources to their work can be called information literates. They have learned techniques and skills for utilizing the wide range of information tools as well as primary sources in moulding information – solution to their problems.”
According to Lenox & Walker “Information Literacy is the realization that several conditions must be simultaneously present. First, Someone must desire to know, use analytic skills to formulate questions, identify research methodologies, and utilize critical skills to evaluate experimental and experiential results. Second. The person must possess the skills to search for answers to those questions in increasingly diverse and complex ways. Third, once a person has identified what is sought, be able to access it.”
Thus Information Literacy is a set of essential skills, which extends learning beyond established classroom settings. Information Literacy deals with when and why we need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, managing, use and communicate it in an ethical manner.” Information Literacy has become a key component of, and contributor to, lifelong learning.
In the developing world, the government is giving more importance for their citizens to become more information literate, as there are many information literacy programs launched for its people to improve their level of information literacy. So that their nation can become world power in the global world. In 1992 Doyle published the results of Delphi Study, according to Doyle the Information Literate person is the one who:
- Recognizes that accurate and complete information is the basis for intelligent decision making.
- Recognizes the need for information.
- Formulate question based on the information needs.
- Identifies potential sources of information.
- Develops successful search strategies.
- Accesses sources of information including computer: based electronic resources.
- Evaluate information collected by various resources.
- Organizes information for practical applications.
- Integrate new information in to an existing body of knowledge.
- Use information in critical thinking and problem solving.
Original Reference Article:
- Prasad, M. S. (2016). Information search and information literacy skills of faculty of polytechnic colleges in Karnataka in utilizing information resources an analytical study. India: University of Mysore.