INFORMATION LITERACY: THE BENEFITS OF PARTNERSHIP. This is an essay by Barbara F. Schloman. It appeared in March 2001 in Nursing World.
From the site:
The word "literate" dates to the mid-fifteenth century and was used for a person who was familiar with literature or generally well-educated (Oxford English Dictionary, 1989). During the last century, it commonly referred to being able to read and write. Over the past decade, we have seen the use of the term expanded and used with many specific types of knowledge. This proliferation of "literacies" has included: computer, cultural, design, emotional, film, financial, geographical, health, information, mathematical, media, scientific.
All of these new literacies have their place, but for our time and our age, it is information literacy that can have the greatest overall impact on our lives. Information literacy is defined as being "able to recognize when information is needed and having the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information" (American Library Association, 1989, p.1). The information literate person is an effective information consumer for both personal and professional needs and is empowered for lifelong learning. "It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning" (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2000).
We are surrounded by communication and information technologies that allow access to vast reservoirs of information. Those riches make a difference to us only if we know how to capitalize on them. Nurses, along with other healthcare professionals, live the reality of a short half-life of their professional and technical knowledge. The content mastered by graduation is soon outdated. Knowing how to seek, evaluate, and apply information is critical to insure ongoing professional competence.