Academic Research is one of the fundamental components of human well-being and national productivity. Though research is not to be blamed for a country’s problem, it is a critical part of the solution. High-quality academic research results can provide ways to develop a solution to any of the issues.
Today, information has become a major economic commodity and citizens need to be educated for productive information use from pre-school through post-secondary education. Librarians play an important role in the education of people for effective and efficient information use by teaching them information skills at all levels of education to enable them to be informed citizen of the country. In the information-rich world, where the scope of available information appears limitless, there is a growing need for researchers, faculty members and students to become critical users of information. It not only includes knowing how to locate Internet resources but focuses upon developing the skills necessary in seeking information from a variety of resources. What information is found is not important, but to use that information to complete the assigned task or research is of great importance.
The educational institutions have an opportunity, and a challenge, to prepare faculty to meet the demands of the Information Age. The faculty members need to identify what graduates should know and be able to do. Recipients of a quality education share certain attributes like critical thinking, problem-solving, a global vision and a multicultural perspective, preparedness for work, and good citizenship.
Need for Information Literacy Skills:
The fundamental goal of Information Literacy (IL) is to develop critical users of information. IL is considered as a powerful weapon for life-long 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. The central mission of educational institutions should be to develop life-long skills and provide the continued growth in the later career of the students.
The terms skills, knowledge, competencies and such other terms are used synonymously in this study. These terms differ only slightly in meaning from one another. Specifically, ‘Skills’ refers to do something well, arising from talent, training or practice. The ‘Knowledge’ refers to acquaintance with facts, truths, profession or with a particular subject or branch of learning. ‘Competence’ refers to the quality or state of having sufficient skills, knowledge, and requirements to do a certain job.
Information includes any data, evidence, inference, concept, or impression that is conveyable or obtainable by a variety of means or media, such as by print, digital sources, personal experience, experimentation, art, mathematics, history, literature, science, popular culture, and so on.
Literacy includes an individual’s abilities to actively and ethically access, recall, decipher, understand, synthesize, analyze, apply, critique, create, and communicate with materials and skills which are presented to and learned by that individual within her or his personal, professional, academic, or social contexts.
IL also aims to teach learners how to find information and prepare them for life-long learning because they can always find the information needed for any task or decision at hand. IL has a great significance for economic growth, educational achievement, and social, cultural and personal well-being. It emphasizes the skills, attitudes and values required to locate, access, evaluate, manage, synthesize and use information effectively. IL links strongly the digital divide by closing the gaps. It also promotes education initiatives at all levels, the development of skills in the workplace and community, including regional economic development, e-commerce, and e-government.
According to CUB, Skills required to be information literate require an understanding of
- A need for information
- The resources available
- How to find information
- The need to evaluate results
- How to work with or exploit results
- Ethics and responsibility of use
- How to communicate or share your findings
- How to manage your findings
IL is exhibited by someone who can ‘demonstrate an awareness of how they gather, use, manage, synthesize and create information and data in an ethical manner and will have the information skills to do so effectively’ (SCONUL, 2011). That is experienced by someone who can effectively and purposefully perform these tasks in their day-to-day activity.
The academicians are expected to base their practice on research evidence, and it follows that IL must be a key component of evidence-based practice. Without the ability to identify, locate and interpret research evidence, academicians will be unable to research their subjects.
Academic Libraries in the Changing Environment:
Higher education and research, which advances knowledge, thrives on the exchange and accumulation of information and ready access to new ideas and theories. The role of academic library in this regard is unique. It collects, consolidates, organizes, repackages and disseminates information – the recorded or communicated knowledge to the academic community and supports the generation of new knowledge. The continuous growth and competence of teachers and the quality of learning environment depend on how effective the academic library is in identifying and connecting information on latest developments in various branches of subject concerned with academic research and scientific community of the campus.
Today, digital technologies are bringing about revolutionary changes in the way the information is stored, retrieved and disseminated. These have a profound impact on the ways academic libraries function and open up electronic access to information for millions of users. Academic scenario, over the years, has undergone tremendous changes, assuming new dimensions influenced by the technology-driven applications, instead of a building that holds books, and the library is now evolving into an electronic portal and subject gateways to a growing global collection in digital content. The emerging demand for electronic information resources may warrant the restructuring of the academic libraries to digital academic libraries. The doors of these libraries are open 24X7. The library’s holdings come to the user as and when needed.
Distance learning is also one of the fastest growing trends in higher education today. Its growth has been enhanced by the increasing availability of electronic information resources accessible to distance learners at remote places. Academic librarians are playing a key role in supporting distance learners. The development of advanced networks such as the internet will require academic librarians to become technology experts, as materials are further developed, achieved, annotated and managed.
Academic libraries in India have been affected by an uncertain financial environment in which, resource buying has been restricted, causing them to look at ways of extending their purchasing capabilities to compensate for reduced budgets. As a result, subscriptions to most of the important journals are being canceled. To overcome this problem, libraries are switching over to the consortium. Library consortium is the emerging toolkit for libraries to survive in the present circumstances. Co-operative purchase option through consortia provides wider access to information resources over the internet. So, when the library users are not aware much of electronic resources and their usage. The IL programme should pave the way for enabling them to fully utilize electronic resources.
Original Reference Article:
- Vellaichamy, A. (2013). Information literacy skills in the use of electronic resources among the faculty members of mother Teresa Womens University and its affiliated colleges_ An analytical study.