• Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of information out there?
• When you’re trying to write an assignment, do you wonder if you’ll ever be able to find the right research?
• David Shenk coined a term to refer to this feeling: it’s called data smog
• Data smog happens when too much information is received too quickly, coming from all directions
o This happens a lot in today’s age of constantly connected technology
• Data smog is also the feeling that you need all the information on a topic to make fast decisions, but will never be able to look through it all
• Information literacy is the solution to data smog or information overload
• Someone who is information literate understands:
o First, when you need information to complete a certain task
o Second, where to find that information, such as in books, articles, or on websites
o Third, how to analyze and evaluate the information and its sources for credibility and reliability
o And finally, how to use the information for a specific purpose, like a class assignment or personal decision
• Information literacy is a set of skills that is truly important for every area of your life
• For example, you need to be able to do research and evaluate sources in order to
o Buy a house
o Pick a college or major
o Make an investment
o Hire staff members at your workplace
o And even vote for your representatives in government
• All of these and other major tasks require information literacy, making this set of skills essential for you all the days of your life
• Information literacy is also essential in your classwork
• In order to research and write papers that make a clear argument about a specific topic, you need to be able to find, evaluate, and use information effectively
• Understanding how to use sources ethically and legally will also help you avoid plagiarism in your assignments
• The Association of College and Research Libraries outlines 6 steps of the Information Literacy Cycle
• You can ask yourself questions to successfully complete each stage of the cycle.
• First, you must determine the information needed.
o Ask questions like: What are the requirements for my assignment? What types of sources am I required to use? What is the argument I want to make in my paper?
• Second, you must access the information.
o Ask questions like: Can I find the information I need in a book or journal? Do I need to visit a library to find a hard copy, or can I access it electronically using a database?
• Third, you must evaluate the information and its sources.
o Ask questions like: Who is the author of my source? What makes them an authority on my topic? How recently was my source published?
• Fourth, you must incorporate the information into your own knowledge.
o Ask questions like: How does the information relate to my other class readings? What is my opinion on the author’s argument? How does the information relate to a Christian worldview?
• Fifth, you must use the information effectively for a specific purpose.
o Ask questions like: How can I use the information to meet the assignment guidelines? How does it contribute to my thesis statement or argument?
• And finally, you must access and use the information ethically and legally.
o Ask questions like: Have I cited the information that I quoted or paraphrased? Does the source have any copyright restrictions?
• Finally, remember that information literacy is actually a group of many different literacies
• To be information literate, you must:
o Be media literate, or understand how to use computers to access information
o Be research literate, or understand how to access information through the library catalog and databases
o Be critically literate, or understand how to objectively evaluate the content of sources
o And be ethically literate, or understand how to use information without violating issues of copyright and individuals’ privacy
• Information literacy is a complex set of skills that changes with technology.
o Don’t feel bad if you have trouble with all of these skills – becoming information literate is a lifelong process.