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Info Litracy & Im

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  • 1. ARTICLE IN PRESS International Journal of Information Management 26 (2006) 263–266 www.elsevier.com/locate/ijinfomgt Viewpoint Information literacy and information management: A 21st century paradigm partnership Forest Woody Horton Jr. 500-23rd Street NW, Apt. B901, Washington, DC 20037, USA In the last five or six years a ‘‘new’’ information resources paradigm has been emerging on the world stage with increasing attention. It is called ‘‘information literacy’’ and I believe the concept can be fairly credited to the library and educational communities, rather than the ICT communities. Certainly, Google has precipitated ´ widespread interest in this new paradigm’s potential. As the saying that has by now become a cliche’ goes: ‘‘what good does it do you to retrieve 1 million hits from an online Internet search?’’ In a very real sense, you are worse off than you were before, because now you realize that there is an enormous amount of information ‘‘out there’’ but you have not learned how to search efficiently enough so that you retrieve only the information you need, and not one citation more. But this is far more than a search and retrieval challenge. It is, in my view, at bottom an information management challenge. Google searches are posing stark realities for everyone that are very closely related to the core notions behind the information management idea. For example: 1. People are finally beginning to realize that information is a resource that just does not ‘‘pop into mind’’ when you need it; just as in the case of other resources—human, physical, financial, and natural resources— one must plan for its utilization; in short, it takes knowledge and skills to find and use the information one needs for problem-solving and decision-making. 2. Dealing with information imposes both risks and burdens as well as returns values and benefits, and like all resources, one must make an investment in planning and utilizing the information resource if knowledge is to be utilized efficiently and effectively. 3. Everyone is becoming his/her own information manager now because there is a realization that a great deal of the information one needs (but not all) can be searched for and retrieved using online search engines, without using intermediaries; while the bricks and mortar library is still a much-needed knowledge institution, it is being supplemented with virtual libraries. 4. Information and knowledge have proliferated ‘‘with a vengeance’’ and this phenomenon has brought with it the concomitant requirement that we learn how to sort and sift through piles and piles of unneeded information that is irrelevant to our needs, often misinformation and disinformation rather than information, presented to us in mediums and formats that we cannot use or are unfamiliar with. ´ 5. To use another cliche—where is the information lost in data, and where is the knowledge lost in information, and where is the wisdom lost in knowledge? E-mail address: f.w.hortonjr@att.net. 0268-4012/$ - see front matter r 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2006.03.009
  • 2. ARTICLE IN PRESS F.W. Horton Jr. / International Journal of Information Management 26 (2006) 263–266 264 Beginning soon after the calendar pages turned to 2001, many international institutions turned their attention to dealing with this challenge. But one in particular has taken the lead in this respect—UNESCO. UNESCO, as the reader will know, is the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organization. It is the primary international institution responsible for dealing with strengthening the way in which countries and institutions are able to deal with both information and communications technology (ICT) challenges, as well as information challenges, including the idea of the Information Society. In 2002, UNESCO sent a representative from its Information and Communications Sector staff to Washington, DC to attend a brainstorming meeting convened by the US National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) attended by perhaps 20 international experts who were pioneers in developing and advancing the Information Literacy idea in several countries including the US. Concurrently the Information Literacy concept had been pioneered in many different countries and the idea behind the brainstorming meeting was to try to consolidate where things stood and how the basic concept could be advanced and promoted further internationally. From that 2002 brainstorming meeting, concrete plans emerged to hold an international conference of information literacy experts in Prague, the Czech Republic. Such a meeting took place in September 2003 and brought together some 40 experts from all of the major geographic regions of the world, including Africa, Latin America, Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. The gathering produced a ‘‘Prague Declaration: Towards an Information Literacy Society’’ which set forth the following principles: ‘‘We the participants at the Information Literacy Meeting of Experts, organized by the US National Commission on Library and Information Science and the National Forum on Information Literacy, with the support of UNESCO, representing 23 countries from all of the seven major continents, held in Prague, the Czech Republic, September 20–23, 2003, propose the following basic Information Literacy principles:  The creation of an Information Society is key to social, cultural and economic development of nations and communities, institutions and individuals in the 21st century and beyond.  Information Literacy encompasses knowledge of one’s information concerns and needs, and the ability to identify, locate, evaluate, organize and effectively create, use and communicate information to address issues or problems at hand; it is a prerequisite for participating effectively in the Information Society, and is part of the basic human right of life long learning.  Information Literacy, in conjunction with access to essential information and effective use of information and communication technologies, plays a leading role in reducing the inequities within and among countries and peoples, and in promoting tolerance and mutual understanding through information use in multicultural and multilingual contexts.  Governments should develop strong interdisciplinary programs to promote Information Literacy nationwide as a necessary step in closing the digital divide through the creation of an information literate citizenry, an effective civil society and a competitive workforce.  Information Literacy is a concern to all sectors of society and should be tailored by each to its specific needs and context.  Information Literacy should be an integral part of Education for All, which can contribute critically to the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, and respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the above context, we propose for the urgent consideration of governments, civil society and the international community the following policy recommendations:  The September 2003 Prague Conference Report should be studied and its recommendations, strategic plans and research initiatives implemented expeditiously as appropriate (the report will be disseminated in December 2003).  The progress in, and opportunities for implementation of the above should be assessed by an International Congress on Information Literacy, which could be organized in the first half of 2005.  The possibility of inclusion of Information Literacy within the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003–2012) should be considered by the international community.’’
  • 3. ARTICLE IN PRESS F.W. Horton Jr. / International Journal of Information Management 26 (2006) 263–266 265 Following the Prague meeting, UNESCO then examined the Information Literacy idea carefully and decided to embrace it as a major priority within the context of its Information-for-All Programme. They also linked Information Literacy closely to another major programme—the Education-for-all Programme. Finally, they made it an integral part of the United Nations Literacy Decade, which runs from 2003 to 2012. UNESCO held several ‘‘thematic debate’’ meetings in Paris to brainstorm more precisely how the Information Literacy paradigm should be ‘‘fit’’ within the aforementioned operating programmes. Around the world, a few preliminary regional meetings were held to pinpoint what various key stakeholder groups such as librarians and educators should be doing. Then in 2005 it was decided that a second international meeting of experts should be held. This time, in attention to UNESCO itself, the two other major organizers for the second meeting of experts were the International Federation for Library Organizations and Institutions (IFLA) and the National Forum on Information Literacy. NCLIS also participated as an organizer, as did several other individuals and groups, most notably the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt. Some readers may have read that the ancient library in Alexandria had been totally build anew on the site of the ancient library, the latter having been virtually totally destroyed in earthquakes and fires centuries ago. And so the second international meeting was finally scheduled for early November 2005, and it was decided to hold it at the grand new, ultra-modern library building in Alexandria. Once again, experts convened from all of the major geographic regions of the world, and met for three days. The week following the meeting some of the participants went on to attend the second of the two-stage World Summit on the Information Society meeting held in Tunis, Tunisia. Like the Prague participants, the Alexandria participants also produced a declaratory document setting forth overarching principles, called ‘‘Beacons of the Information Society: Alexandria Proclamation’’: ‘‘Celebrating this week’s confirmation of the site of the Pharos of Alexandria, one of the ancient wonders of the world, the participants in the High Level Colloquium on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning held at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina on 6–9 November 2005 proclaim that information literacy and lifelong learning are the beacons of the Information Society, illuminating the courses to development, prosperity and freedom. Information Literacy lies at the core of lifelong learning. It empowers people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals. It is a basic human right in a digital world and promotes social inclusion of all nations. Lifelong learning enables individuals, communities and nations to attain their goals and to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the evolving global environment for shared benefit. It assists them and their institutions to meet technological, economic and social challenges, to redress disadvantage and to advance the well being of all. Information literacy  comprises the competencies to recognize information needs and to locate, evaluate, apply and create information within cultural and social contexts;  is crucial to the competitive advantage of individuals, enterprises (especially small and medium enterprises), regions and nations;  provides the key to effective access, use and creation of content to support economic development, education, health and human services, and all other aspects of contemporary societies, and thereby provides the vital foundation for fulfilling the goals of the Millennium Declaration and the World Summit on the Information Society; and  extends beyond current technologies to encompass learning, critical thinking and interpretative skills across professional boundaries and empowers individuals and communities. Within the context of the developing Information Society, we urge governments and intergovernmental organizations to pursue policies and programs to promote information literacy and lifelong learning. In particular, we ask them to support  regional and thematic meetings which will facilitate the adoption of information literacy and lifelong learning strategies within specific regions and socioeconomic sectors;
  • 4. ARTICLE IN PRESS F.W. Horton Jr. / International Journal of Information Management 26 (2006) 263–266 266  professional development of personnel in education, library, information, archive, and health and human services in the principles and practices of information literacy and lifelong learning;  inclusion of information literacy into initial and continuing education for key economic sectors and government policy making and administration, and into the practice of advisors to the business, industry and agriculture sectors;  programs to increase the employability and entrepreneurial capabilities of women and the disadvantaged, including immigrants, the underemployed and the unemployed; and  recognition of lifelong learning and information literacy as key elements for the development of generic capabilities which must be required for the accreditation of all education and training programs. We affirm that vigorous investment in information literacy and lifelong learning strategies creates public value and is essential to the development of the Information Society.’’ Summary As these words are written, all of the major regions of the world are now planning follow-on regional and thematic meetings (e.g. health information literacy and information literacy for business and economic development) to take place in the 2006–2007 timeframe. UNESCO, IFLA, NCLIS, NFIL, and other websites will track these meetings in the event readers wish to learn more about their program content, their venue, their dates, and so on. The field of information management can and should work in close partnership with information literacy because they are highly complementary ideas and can each help the other.