Information Literacy

You are looking at a book on the topic of information literacy. Many people think of literacy to be about the ability to read, however today there are many types of literacies. You might have heard people talk about Health Literacy, Mathematical Literacy, or Media Literacy. This book is about Information Literacy. This is the ability to find and use information.

There is so much information available today. We see an exponential increase of information thanks to the ease of adding information to the internet and publishing both print and electronic materials via the web. With so much information it becomes easy to find something, but increasingly more difficult to find exactly the right piece of information.

Information Literacy is about identifying your research need, finding the best information possible for your need, and using the information ethically and correctly.

Put simply, the Association of College and Research Libraries identifies Information Literacy as

“…the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information.”

A person who is information literate can tell if a particular question needs high quality information, or if it is something that can be solved quickly with less authoritative information. For example, wondering who starred in a movie doesn’t need perfect information. It might just require you find something fast. However, working on a paper for a professor requires much more reliable information and it might take more effort to find it.

This book is designed to help you in your quest to become information literate. The first three chapters are focused on learning how to approach a research project. In Chapter 1, The Research Process, you will learn about the steps in approaching a research project, managing your time, understanding your assignment, and tips for knowing what to do. Chapter 2, Understanding Your Research Needs, will address how to approach your research based on scope of your project. You’ll learn about the different types of resources, the information timeline, and how information is organized in the library. Chapter 3 will focus on Developing a Research Strategy. In this chapter you’ll learn about defining your topic, search terms, controlled vocabulary, and various ways of searching including boolean, truncation, and advanced searching.

The following five chapters will address resources: reference materials, books, articles, the web, and primary sources. These chapters will explain the importance of each type of resource, how to find them, how each can be evaluated for relevance or scholarliness, and how to use the various types of sources in your work.

Finally, the last two chapters will address using the information you find. The first, Using Resources, will focus on using the information you find and integrating it into your research. The final chapter in the book will address citation and copyright. It will address why you cite and how, copyright, and plagiarism. This chapter will help you make sure not to violate any rules when working on your assignment.

We hope that you enjoy this book–in whatever format you read it in–and that you find it useful in your research and your path to information literacy.