The paper ‘Information Literacy in Secondary School’ is a worthy example of coursework on education. Learners today are being faced with the challenge of finding the right information owing to the fact lots of information is available over the internet in electronic format. For them to benefit from this information, there is a need for relevant stakeholders to equip them with information literacy skills. The library plays a critical role in providing learners with information literacy skills. In the same way, technology has played an important role in improving information access, it should also be used in improving information literacy.
This paper presents the findings of librarians’ role in improving information literacy and how technology can be used to enhance information literacy. Arguments have been backed up by various scholarly works which are the main sources of information for this paper. A great emphasis has been given to the performance of students at this information age where learners can access information easily unlike in the past. Many research studies have been conducted in a bid to address the question of different failure rates of learners especially in the first and second years of their education.
Many factors have been observed and among these factors is information literacy. There has been a great emphasis on information literacy in the recent past and most of these research studies have indicated a direct relationship between information literacy and excelling (Lau, 2008, p. 33). In addition to this, much focus in research has been given to the continuity between secondary schools and tertiary institutions and it is for this reason that higher education institutions are reaching out to high schools through collaborations on information literacy projects. Definition Information literacy is an individual’s ability to recognize when information is required, locate, assess and use them whenever required (Lau, 2008, p. 17; CILIP, 2013).
Many scholars have defined the concept but they all center around the American Library Association’s definition.
School Librarian Role in Improving Information Literacy
Information access has undergone tremendous improvement since time immemorial. This has been due to major improvements in the information and communication technology sector. In spite of the fact that much information is available today, learners still have difficulty choosing the right information.
Information literacy skills help the learners to recognize what information is required and when they are required. Research studies have shown that information literacy has numerous positive effects such as improvement of reading skills among the students. Other benefits of information literacy include helping learners internalize information better and making learning fun. In fact, Keengwe& Onchwari highlight the fact that studies have shown that learners who are provided with information literacy skills while in high school have high chances of succeeding in their higher education. Information literacy is, therefore, a crucial concept for this case.
While many have argued that information literacy is important in improving learning, a major question that is yet to be addressed is the question of who is responsible for imparting information literacy skills. Currently, this role has been directed to Librarians. Much has been done with regards to libraries’ role in information literacy. The image of a library has completely changed and in fact, it has had some effects on the roles of librarians (Joshi & Nikose, 2010; Dotan & Aharony, 2008).
The shift from text-based learning to resource-based learning has impacted heavily on library use (Joshi & Nikose, 2010). Resource-based learning emphasizes intensified library users to access different types of resources both printed and electronic format. Unlike in the past, librarians have taken the key role of guiding and directing the learners to access and use information effectively. They help in teaching information skills to the library users. Librarians play an important role in helping the learners access the right information both electronic and print format. According to Dotan & Aharony (2008), librarians help in bringing in the ‘informative view’ to the entire learning process by taking into consideration the curriculum and the technologies available.
Evidence has shown that new learners who go to the library for the first time often get confused about how to access the required information (Joshi & Nikose, 2010). Similarly, Campbell (2010) says that “libraries are crazy, amazing places, but few people understand how to use them” (p. 31). Librarians should, therefore, provide these skills necessary for accessing and using the available information effectively. Notably, in some instances, teachers themselves lack these skills of getting the right information and as a result, they cannot be able to guide their learners (Joshi & Nikose, 2010).
Librarians, on the other hand, are always updated on new information and ways of accessing them. Campbell (2010) notes that each year, librarians provide information on new databases, research method strategies, and tools for accessing this information to learners. Despite the existence of a great disconnect between teaching and library skills, librarians have shown higher capabilities and willingness to provide information skills.
Libraries, therefore, provide strong backup to learning and librarians play a key role in co-teaching. Experts have recommended the integration of librarians into the instruction process by engaging them in the preparation of teaching plans and resources as a way of promoting learning among the students (Omar, 2012). Using technology in information literacy The development of information and communication technology has enabled learners to access more information than before. However, the availability and easy access to information does not guarantee the right use of information. Information literacy and technology are required for the proper use of these resources (Joshi & Nikose, 2010).
As a matter of fact, technology is an important tool necessary for communication and compiling this information. Currently, institutions are moving towards electronic learning that requires learners to access a range of information available on the internet. Information literacy proves important for this case to enable the learners to access the right information even with the absence of the teacher. Information literacy and ICT are two inseparable concepts and this has resulted in many individuals terming both as a single concept.
This has been evidenced by studies conducted were twenty-five of the respondents agreed with the concept of information literacy and ICT skills as one concept (Probert, 2009, p. 28). Quite interesting is the fact that ICT has helped in improving literacy. Various governments are initiating new ICT projects to assist citizens to access more information. As earlier stated, ICT tools especially computers have lots of information that can be accessed. With the help of these computers available in modern-day libraries, librarians provide technical assistance to users.
A number of research studies have been conducted to establish the relationship between ICT and information literacy. For example, a research study conducted in Iran to establish this relationship involved students from intelligent schools and ordinary schools. Intelligent schools are those schools where learners use ICT tools in learning and they are provided methods of research lessons (Isfandyari-Moghaddam & Kashi-Nahanji, 2011, p. 618). On the other hand, ordinary schools are those schools lacking ICT tools and the learners are not provided with methods of research lessons (Isfandyari-Moghaddam & Kashi-Nahanji, 2011, p. 618).
According to this study, 2.2 percent of learners from ordinary schools had high information literacy compared to 28 percent of those from intelligent schools having high information literacy (Isfandyari-Moghaddam & Kashi-Nahanji, 2011, p. 628). The high information literacy among those learners from intelligent schools is due to the fact that they have been equipped with ICT skills and on top of this, they were provided with research method skills to guide them on choosing what is relevant to them. The results of this study were in line with other previous studies that had been conducted before.
ICT is, therefore, a critical tool in enhancing information literacy.
In conclusion, libraries are important in the development of information literacy. There is a need for education specialists to re-examine the preparedness of libraries in taking this role of providing information literacy. In this case, there are numerous factors that require a re-evaluation to ensure that librarians may take this responsibility with minimal barriers. Important factors that determine the effectiveness of a library include; library personnel, hours of operation and the available resources.
The availability of enough resources can be enhanced with ICT tools such as computers with internet access. Embracing ICT in libraries will ensure that learners access a vast amount of resources available online with minimum cost. However, it is worth noting that the availability of ICT tools and qualified librarians will not guarantee a high level of information literacy. Of great importance is for all education stakeholders to collaborate and work towards removing the barriers of information literacy.
- Campbell, M. (2010 February 1). Information. Knowledge, Wisdom. Collaborations between Librarians and Faculty in a Digital Age. The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, 30- 33.
- Chartered Institute of Information and Library Professionals (CILIP). (2013). Information literacy. Retrieved 6 December 2013 from
- Dotan, G. & Aharony, N. (2008). Information Literacy Roles of Library Media Specialists in High Schools: Israeli Perspectives. Journal of Information Literacy, 2(1).
- Isfandyari-Moghaddam, A. & Kashi-Nahanji, V. (2011). Does Information Technology Affect the Level of Information Literacy? A Comparative Case Study of High School Students. Aslib Proceedings: New Information Perspectives, 63(6): 618-631.
- Joshi, P. & Nikose, S. (2010). How to achieve Best Services to Students Through Information Literacy for Academic Libraries.
- Keengwe, J. & Onchwari, G. (2013). Literacy Enrichment and Technology Integration in Pre-Service Teacher Education. Hershey: IGI Global.
- Lau, J (2008). Information Literacy: International Perspectives. Hawthorne: Walter de Gruyter.
- Omar, A. M. (2012). The Role of the University Library in Supporting Information Literacy. Retrieved 7 December 2013 from
- Probert, E. (2009). Information Literacy Skills: Teacher Understandings and Practice. Computers and Education, 53: 24-33.
- Sobel, K. (2012). Information Basics for College Students. California: ABC-CLIO.