information literacy

Librarians: Information literacy is a must-have skill

A new survey reveals how librarians hope to expand their roles in developing patrons' information literacy skills

Nearly half of librarians in a recent survey said their libraries do not advocate for information literacy as much as they should.

The ProQuest survey of 217 librarians from higher education, K-12 schools and public libraries reveals that while 83 percent said information literacy has a large impact on college graduation rates, and though 97 percent of those surveyed said information literacy leads to success in the workforce, just 44 percent believe their libraries adequately support the skill.

Only 21 percent of surveyed librarians said they believe their library patrons recognize information literacy’s effect on lifelong success, while 34 percent said their patrons do not recognize it and 33 percent were unsure.

“I see students with low information literacy struggling to understand and complete assignments,” said one librarian. “Students who possess [information literacy] skills approach these assignments with more confidence and creativity and achieve more success.”

Budget and manpower seemed to be the greatest obstacles to devoting more time to information literacy skill development.

“Overall, lack of budget and limited staffing were reported as some of the greatest obstacles for doing as much as they would like to drive development of this important skill set,” said Kevin Stehr, ProQuest vice president of North American sales.

Libraries help users develop information literacy skills through one-on-one consultations, research classes that focus on research skills in general, instruction guides, books and ebooks about the research process, and video tutorials.

But despite those resources, librarians reported frustration with the extent to which their libraries support patrons’ information literacy skills. Seventy-six percent said they do not offer specific information literacy-promoting platforms to their users, and 42 percent of surveyed librarians said they have no assessment system in place to gauge patrons’ information literacy levels. Twenty-nine percent of librarians said their library offers an informal assessment, and 16 percent said they offer a formal assessment.

Some of the surveyed librarians said partnering with faculty could help address information literacy needs and assessments.

“We are badly in need of an integrated presence in the curriculum,” said one respondent.

“Partnering with faculty–and showing faculty the need for [information literacy]–is the number one thing we need to change. If faculty are on board, they will bring their students — we have evidence of this,” another respondent said.

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Laura Ascione