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Revisioning Information Literacy for Lifelong Meaning by Dane Ward.

Dear LILAC Colleagues,

I am including some notes, reactions and discussion questions on a thought provoking article by Dane Ward: Revisioning Information Literacy for Lifelong Meaning; Journal of Academic Librarianship, vol. 32, 4. June 2006, which was shared by Robert Farrell.

My goal is to initiate a discussion where we attempt to conceptualize Information Literacy from our own experience, as either a set of academic skills essential to academic success and lifelong learning or as a concept that is narrowly defined, and should be expanded to include a broader spectrum of goals and ideals.

This is in line with Dane Ward’s article Revisioning Information Literacy for Lifelong Meaning. In here the author proposes that Information Literacy is more than teaching a set of skills to find, evaluate and use information, but a “broader array of competencies” which extend beyond learning a set of proficiencies or developing an ability to use information critically. Dane Ward believes that IL should extend beyond just teaching a set of basic skills to include other “information processes.”  This can serve to deeply connect students with the information they are interacting with, as well as highlight the importance of our discipline beyond what we have defined.

All academic disciplines at institutions of higher learning believe at their core that they are important, and perhaps essential to the development of college students as lifelong learners. Colleagues in disciplines such as art, mathematics, history or music can provide a multitude of reasons as to why their disciplines are indispensable components of student’s education and why consequently they should be a vital part of a student’s learning. Nevertheless, these disciplines among many others, for the most part are not proficiencies.

Here are some questions:

Is Information Literacy a proficiency that goes beyond a set of scaffolded skills that are transferable among disciplines? Should IL be defined as something more than learning a set of skills? What is this “something more”?

Many other questions come to mind. Is a narrow definition of IL limiting our importance and impact in educating students? Are current definitions of IL too limiting or confining? Are our current teaching practices responsible for narrowing how students interact, interpret or appreciate information? What does it mean to have the “capacity” to experience and value information?