Information literacy: more than a set of skills.

One of the main roles of the teacher librarian involves teaching and supporting student’s information literacy skills through the use of information literacy models. Information literacy is a complex process involving locating, using and communicating information effectively. It is not merely a set of skills, but a metacognitive process that enables the learner to become literate and succeed in all areas of life.

Abilock (2004, p.1) defines information literacy as a ‘transformational process in which the learner needs to find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes’. This definition indicates that there is a set of information literacy skills that need to be applied to any given situation for a successful outcome. For the process to be successful, however, the participant must realize how and when to use the skills in educational and life situations.

Weiner (2010) suggests that information literacy encompasses emerging literacies including technology literacy, media literacy and health literacy. The very idea that information literacy covers all disciplines, is metacognitive and shapes ones way of thinking indicates that it is much more than a set of skills. These skills, however, are critical to the success of solving problems, and as teacher librarians we must ensure that students have access and support in using information literacy models and their associated skills in ‘combination’ with  meaningful situations. This will ensure that we develop a continuous learning mindset among our students.

There are many models of information literacy that teacher librarians can use to teach information literacy skills to students.  Kuhlthau’s (2004) information search process model, Eisenberg (2008) Big 6 model and the New South Wales Department of Education and Training model (2007) are just three examples Eisenberg (2008, p. 40) highlights the key factor in all the models is the ‘‘process’ – understanding that information skills are not isolated incidents, but rather are connected activities that encompass a way of thinking about and using information’. This ‘process’ needs to be acquired with through  the use of information literacy models throughout ones education.

The teacher librarian is in a unique position to provide information literacy to both students and teachers. They understand the information literacy process and the skills needed to be successful. Eisenberg (2008) & Langford (1998) indicate that information literacy skills need to be taught within the curriculum and not in isolation. Therefore teacher librarians need to ensure they develop collaborative practices with classroom teachers in devising and teaching units of work that are inclusive of information literacy processes. This will allow students opportunities to practice and refine their information literacy skills.

Literature surrounding information literacy indicates it is a prerequisite for lifelong learning (Bundy 2004, Langford 1998 & Herring 2006). It is also apparent that information literate citizens are able to better deal with the vast amount of information available in the 21st century and to make decisions based on the synthesizing of this information in there day to day life. Therefore, developing information literacy among our students requires more than a set of skills, it involves knowing how to learn (Langford, 1998, p.6). The set of skills provided by many information literacy models provides a framework to develop the information literacy ‘process’ and lifelong learning of the individual and thus allowing them to better succeed in life.


Abilock, D. (2004). Information literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes. In Noodletools. Retrieved from

Bundy, A. (ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice. 2nd ed. Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL).

Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the Information Age. Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.

Kuhlthau, C.C. (2004). Learning as a process, in Seeking meaning: A process approach to library and information services, Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, pp.13-27

Langford, L. (1998). Information literacy: a clarification. In From Now On The Educational Technology Journal.

New South Wales Department of Education and Training (2007) School libraries and information literacy. Retrieved from

Weiner, S. (2010) Information Literacy: A Neglected Core Competency. In EDUCAUSE REVIEW online. Retrieved from


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