Chapter 1: Understanding Information Literacy

1.1 Defining Information Literacy

You interact with information daily. For class, you read textbooks, perform research, and interact with digital media. Outside of class, you consume and create content for social media, seek answers to questions, and read about issues that impact you directly. Information literacy is an important set of life skills that foster success in the personal, academic, and professional areas of your life.

What is information literacy?

Information literacy requires skills but also an understanding of how information is created and organized. Your attitude is also important. Information-literate individuals have the desire to find quality information and embrace traits like curiosity and persistence. The American Library Association defines information literacy as a set of integrated abilities that empower individuals with the following skills and knowledge:

  • An ability to be reflective while seeking information.
  • An understanding of how information is produced and valued.
  • An understanding of how to use information to create new knowledge.
  • An ability to participate ethically in communities of learning.

The Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education

The Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (ACRL, 2016) breaks information literacy skills and knowledge into six concepts. Woven together, the six concepts provide students with a robust set of information literacy abilities for success in college and beyond. Use the graphic below to read about each of the six information literacy concepts. Turn the cards over for a set of questions that will help you apply these concepts.


Why does information literacy matter?

In today’s complex information environment, the average user has access to over one billion websites and over one hundred million videos on YouTube. Millions of books, magazines, and articles are published every year.  Finding the right information for the right purpose takes some skill and attention.

Information literacy is a life skill that will help you apply critical thinking and reflection to locate, evaluate, and use quality information. An information-literate individual embraces the research process (even when it’s messy), synthesizes information from multiple sources, and makes conscientious choices when sharing information. Start building your information literacy skills now and you will find yourself applying the ideas at school and work while empowering yourself to become an active citizen.


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LIN 175: Information Literacy Copyright © 2022 by Steely Library Education & Outreach Services, Northern Kentucky University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.