Policy making in information literacy: what does it mean? Dr John CrawfordIndependent Information Professional firstname.lastname@example.org
A lesson from history?• little agreement about what information actually is - people’s views influenced by education, experience, personal agendas and issues of technology• role of government poorly defined, government engagement with information issues is intermittent & frequently vestigial• relationship between governments & information organisations is often weak, frequently nonexistent. Information organisations themselves do not co-operate harmoniously• information retrieval or information searching ,however defined, has travelled from being a specialist issue/skill, based round science & technology to being a skill for everyone & covering all subjects• information literacy in a historical context is invisible
Historic debates about what IL is ‘...effective policy formulation and implementation rely on an unambiguousdefinition of the problem, while information literacy remains difficult to characterize.’ (Haras and Brasley 2011)
The Information SocietyTerm defines a society in which the creation, distributionand treatment of information have become the mostsignificant economic and cultural activities.An information society also covers many related sectorswhich include industrial and economic policy, technologypolicy, telecommunications policy and a huge sector:social issues and policies that comprise e-government,education, e-health, media policy and cultural issueswithin which much of the material of information literacylies.
Factors impacting on the information environment• Mass access to information through the Internet• The need for lifelong learning• The increasing proportion of available information with an uncontrolled life cycle• The proliferation of information services and tools• The prevalence of intellectual over manual activities (Basili 2011)
Connected stages in IL policy development• A nation perceives the need for competitive reasons to be a player in the global knowledge economy• A need for upskilling of the population• The emergence of a learning agenda associated with skills development• The growth of digital media and communications leads to widespread information overload leading to a need for effective information and knowledge management for both individuals and organisations (Town 2003)
Information literacy activism/development• National concern• Process analysis• Product development (learning and teaching materials)• Not a logical sequence and product development receives most attention and more in HE than other sectors (Town 2003)
A list of questions• What is an information literacy policy and what are they for• What is the role of information literacy policy within the wider world of information policy making. How can information literacy be defined to distinguish it from ICT infrastructural issues• Who should make information literacy policy• How can the information professional exert influence outside the information sector• What sort of agendas should information literacy policy making identify/collaborate with, for example, educational and social policy, lifelong learning, skills development, health awareness and deprivation• Is information literacy recognised in policy agendas worldwide• Can information literacy exploit digital inclusion agendas• What kind of state is receptive to information literacy policies• Have information literacy policies been systematically tested and evaluated
Criteria for IL policy documents• Information literacy policy documents should be about information literacy and not something else• They should have some form of government endorsement and support• They should be genuinely cross sectoral covering all education levels from early years to PhD level, the workplace, health, lifelong learning, employability and skills development and citizenship and civil rights• They should be at least informed and preferably led by the professional bodies of the countries concerned• They should be collaborative with input from all organisations in the countries concerned such as skills development bodies, employers’ organizations, trades unions, teaching and learning organizations and relevant NGOs
Whitworth’s analysis• Identified 11 policy documents.• Analysed 6 using Bruce’s six frames• Only two with state recognition – Finland, Hong Kong• Finnish document mainly ‘academic’; Hong Kong does not recognise citizenship• Australasian, American and Hong Kong most broadly based• Personal relevance, social impact and collaboration important• Small countries sympathetic to IL? (Whitworth 2011)
European IL policies• Initially 461 initiatives!• Identifies 54 policy initiatives• But most do not focus specifically on IL• Most policy measures initiated by Ministries of Education but appear in ICT policy measures• ‘...information literacy has not yet properly entered the policy agenda in most European countries’• Spread of credit bearing courses being delivered by university departments and libraries (many initiatives actually courses) (Basili 2011)
Countries leading in policy initiativesCountry Number of policy initiativesLithuania 11Finland 8Germany 7Denmark 5Spain 5Austria 4Italy 4Latvia 4Estonia 3Poland 3Total 54
The long haul‘The top priority of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science should be directed towards establishing a national program to achieve universal information literacy by 1984’ (Zurkowski 1974)
What can we do?• Develop policy documents, Yes but?• Have R&D programmes to take policy forward• Identify groups and organisations with whom your interests overlap• Link to long standing goals and reforms• Connect with the information society• Rethink what policy documents should be• Evaluate impact
Information skills for a 21st century Scotland An online information literacy community of practice And he’s back!
Aims and characteristics• Community of Practice Creating an information literate Scotland’ This community aims to connect up practitioners in a range of sectors who are all working towards the common goal of creating an information literate Scotland. Share your expertise, ask questions and get involved!• with archive links to: Scottish Information Literacy Framework; Scottish Information Literacy Project website; Scottish Information Literacy Project blog• website is currently under construction. The site is being developed by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) in conjunction with the former Scottish Information Literacy Project team and partners