Three Perspectives on Information Literacy in Academia: Talking to Librarians, Faculty, and Students

Anna Yevelson-Shorsher, Jenny Bronstein

Abstract

This study presents three perspectives on the subject of information literacy skills in academia by examining the perceptions of students, teaching faculty, and librarians. Information literacy (sometime referred to as critical thinking or research skills) has become a crucial set of skills in academic work since developments in informational and technological environments have given students access to vast amounts of information that is often unsupported, unfiltered, and unreliable. Data collected from 32 semi-structured interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. Findings show that students felt that they lacked adequate information literacy skills, did not receive sufficient help from the faculty, and were unaware of the resources and services the library offered. Professors, however, considered such skills important and expected students to obtain them during their studies. The library staff were aware of students’ difficulties in acquiring these skills and have made efforts to develop programs to remedy the situation. However, these programs were not always successful due to a lack of awareness by students, and the incompatibility of such programs with their needs and the expectations of their instructors. By contrasting the views, needs and expectations of the three populations studied, findings from the study show that greater collaboration and communication between faculty, librarians, and students is needed to improve students’ information literacy skills. The study also provides the LIS field with an outline of an 'ideal' information literacy training for students as it is reflected in the combined views of the participated populations.

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