What is Information Literacy?

Information literacy refers to a set of characteristics that transform an ordinary student into a "wise information consumer" and "lifelong learner."  Information literacy isn't just something you "do" in college, rather "information literate" is something you become, via your coursework and personal experiences and interactions with information.

Some of the aspects of information literacy include using information technologies, such as personal computers, e-mail, software programs, and the Internet. Other aspects of information literacy involve the evaluation of the information you obtain using the Internet and online electronic resources. Still other components of information literacy regard the ethical use of information and information technologies. A couple of the primary goals of information literacy are to get people thinking critically about the information they encounter, and building in people the ability to use that information to create new knowledge.

Philadelphia University has outlined an institutional definition of information literacy, as it applies to our students. Other universities and colleges have their own definitions. Most of the definitions are similar. Here is our definition:

Information Literacy is:

bulletThe ability to articulate one's information need
bulletThe ability to identify, locate and access appropriate sources of information to meet the information need  
bulletThe ability to effectively use information resources, regardless of format  

The ability to critically and ethically apply the information


The ability to determine if the need has been adequately met  

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Last Updated 2/11

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