Post-Class Post Information Literacy: Mission Accomplished?

Firstly, I thought all of the screenscasts we watched in class were fantastic and I had tons of screencast envy after having watched them. I certainly had not considered how much having a good stage voice and sense of timing could be useful for a librarian!

During our discussion of Information Literacy, I was struck how much Information Literacy sounds like the War on Terror. Exact when is a War on Terror or Information Literacy over? I remember a government docs librarians telling me about an interesting government doc that used to exist that kept count of the number killed each year on the war on terror. It turned out that this number was impossibly hard to deduce. Often what looked like an act of terrorism one week was actually the work of jealous boyfriend or insane person and therefore had to be struck from the list. Recently the federal government gave up and stopped issuing this report, because it was simply had no real foundation for what it was doing.

I say this because information literacy, in some ways, is a war against an unknowable enemy. Information, that slippery serpent, is always changing, always growing. The information literacy skills that were taught in the 1970s certainly are only be passingly useful today. Things have changed so much. But then again, the constant state of flux which information creates in our lives is one of the reasons librarians created the term “Information Literacy” in the first place. To face an enemy who was by definition not immediately ascertained or known.

It is wonderful to hear about all the interesting ways that information literacy is changing to meet an ever growing, ever changing information world. Librarians are reaching ever further, changing definitions and tweaking competencies to reflect the world around them. I would never say that the Information Literacy movement was a single battle like “teach students how to use Proquest” or “make public library patrons wiser consumers”.

Like the War on Terror,  I don’t think there’s a single “Mission Accomplished” moment for us as librarians. But I still feel like what we are trying to do is noble none the less. If there is one person in a room who knows how to interpret a graph and sense a biased source, let that it be because a librarian showed them better.


About Ilana the Librarian

I am an aspiring librarian at the University of Michigan.
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One Response to Post-Class Post Information Literacy: Mission Accomplished?

  1. One of my favorite things about being a (future) librarian is the fact that almost everything we do is one-on-one. There are so many small “mission accomplished” moments we can have that it feels like we’re on the right track, even if the battle still rages on. And lucky us, since our “war” is all abstract, we don’t have to worry about body counts (unless we end up like Giles from Buffy or something).

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