Sunday, September 30, 2012

October is Information Literacy Awareness Month

This October marks the third anniversary of President Barack Obama's Proclamation of National Information Literacy Awareness Month.  In a well-crafted press release, President Obama explains that the imperative to be information literate is one that is tied to our responsibilities as citizens in a participatory democracy.  He writes,
Though we may know how to find the information we need, we must also know how to evaluate it. Over the past decade, we have seen a crisis of authenticity emerge. We now live in a world where anyone can publish an opinion or perspective, whether true or not, and have that opinion amplified within the information marketplace. At the same time, Americans have unprecedented access to the diverse and independent sources of information, as well as institutions such as libraries and universities, that can help separate truth from fiction and signal from noise.
Obama's Proclamation has resonated in the library world, and in the community at the University of Montevallo.  We are entering the second major year of our Quality Enhancement Plan, a multi-year focus on information literacy in all phases of the curriculum.  As Montevallo's Information Literacy Librarian, I've begun to think about exactly what it means to be information literate students and citizens in the digital age.

Today, information literacy is about much more than finding and evaluating sources.  It's about combining these critical faculties with our ability to manage our time and focus our attention.  We are limited by the extent to which we can distil massive amounts of information and parlay what we learn about into direct action.  Barack Obama's remarks at the 2010 commencement of Hampton University present the challenges today's learners face very clearly.  Information is now a distraction that imposes on the foundation of American democracy.

This month, I along with several of the Carmichael Librarians will be blogging about Information Literacy. We'll have a couple of campus-wide information literacy events to help us remember this month.  In the meanwhile, let us know what you do to think about information literacy this month.  We're always looking for ways to open conversations.

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