Do you ever use Google? How about library databases? If so, you know that you can sit down, type something in and get results. That shows you are computer literate. Because information literacy is often confused with computer literacy, most people think they should already know or do already know how to do research effectively and efficiently. Just knowing how to perform a search on a computer does not make person information literate. Although it isn’t brain surgery, as one of my first mentors assured me, it is a set of skills that need to be learned. It is not built into our DNA.
Some students use the first few articles or books they find on a topic and write a paper from that. That is not really doing research nor does it shout, “I am information literate.” A true research project is having a question or a theory and looking for an answer, proof and/or supporting evidence. Information literacy is not only doing research, but also understanding information, how it is created and organized, how to use it and the realization that research takes time. More often than not, multiple searches will be required to find what you need.
This small book is intended to get you started on the way to becoming information literate and knowing how to do library research. These skills will: transfer from institution to institution no matter if it be a college, university, or public library; allow you to learn what you want when you want by putting you in control of database searching; show you how to find answers to questions you may not know you have; support not only your academic endeavors, but help you keep abreast of the information in whatever field you choose; and may aid you in all life’s questions. Use the index at the end to clarify new terminology.
Education takes us out of our comfort zone. Information literacy empowers us to continue our education far beyond our schooling. Inherent in learning is the need to challenge our assumptions. Sometimes we do not even know we have assumptions until we learn something new that shakes our mind into a new understanding. This is why learning is so amazing and so fun.