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A critical approach to information literacy


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Presented at the 2013 Umbrella conference in Manchester.

Published in: Education

A critical approach to information literacy

  1. 1. Lauren Smith PhD Research Student University Of Strathclyde
  2. 2. Critical Pedagogy Information Literacy • Origins • Theoretical grounding • Skills-based frameworks Critical Information Literacy • Introduction • In practice Conclusions
  3. 3. Critical pedagogy “help[s] students to develop a consciousness of freedom, recognise authoritarian tendencies, empower the imagination, connect knowledge and truth to power, and learn how to read both the word and the world as part of a broader struggle for agency, justice and democracy.” - Henry Giroux (2012, p.116)
  4. 4. Problems
  5. 5. Alberta Model Seven Pillars Big6 Guided Inquiry And more…
  6. 6. “an effort to deny the ancillary status of librarianship by inventing a social malady with which librarians as ‘information professionals’ are uniquely qualified to deal.” - Foster (1993, p.346)
  7. 7. “Information literacy is not as empowering as the library profession would like to think.” - Doherty and Ketchner (2005) “[f]ar from contributing to equitable education outcomes, this [information literacy] framework for school library research masks an exclusionary ideology.” - Kapitzke (2003)
  8. 8. “hindering the transformation of…students and inhibiting their impact on the world” - Pankl and Coleman (2009, p.8) “a limited perception of [information literacy] as a neutral process which is entirely unaffected by any kind of social, political or historical background” - Špiranec and Zorica (2010, p.142-143)
  9. 9. Charge: Update the Information literacy competency standards for higher education so that they reflect the current thinking on such things as the creation and dissemination of knowledge, the changing global higher education and learning environment, the shift from information literacy to information fluency, and the expanding definition of information literacy to include multiple literacies, e.g., transliteracy, media literacy, digital literacy, etc. - ACRL (2013)
  10. 10. Would aim to “reverse trends of exclusion from political participation and enable people to participate in the decisions and events that affect their lives.” - Whitworth (2009, p.118)
  11. 11.  Sharing and dialogue between students  Fostering intellectual curiosity  Research relevant to students’ lives (Pankl and Coleman 2009, p.9)  Challenging authority determined by authorities (Cope 2009, p.25)  Raising awareness of manipulation by outside forces  Contact zone pedagogy (Torrell 2009, pp.89-103)
  12. 12.  Supporting critical abilities  Increasing political agency  Strengthening democracy
  13. 13.  This work is being done – we don’t always know it or have the same name for it  Engagement with the ethical and moral responsibilities of the LIS profession is crucial – to LIS and to society
  14. 14. - Elmborg (2006, p.193)
  15. 15. @walkyouhome
  16. 16. Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) (2013) ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education Task Force [Online] Available from: [Accessed 17 June 2013]. ACRL (2000) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. American Library Association, Chicago, IL. [Online] Available from: <> [Accessed 13 May 2013]. Cope, J. (2009) Information Literacy and Social Power. Critical Library Instruction:Theories and Methods, eds. M.T. Accardi, E. Drabinski and A. Kumbier, pp.13-28. Library Juice Press, Duluth, MN. Cornelius, I. (2002) Theorizing information science in: B. Cronin (Ed.) Annual Review of Information Science and Technology (ARIST),Vol. 36, Information Today,pp. 393–425. Day, R. E. (2010) “The Self-Imposed Limits of Library and Information Science:Remarks On the Discipline, On the Profession, On the University, and On the State of “Information”in the U.S. at Large Today”. InterActions:UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies, 6(2). Doherty, J.J. and Ketchner, K. (2005) Empowering the Intentional Learner: A Critical Theory for Information Literacy Instruction. Library Philosophy and Practice, 8(1), pp. 1–10. Elmborg, J. (2006) Critical Information Literacy:Implications for Instructional Practice. The Journal of Academic Librarianship,32(2), pp. 192-199.
  17. 17. Eryaman, M.Y. (2010) The Public Library as a Space for Democratic Empowerment: Henry Giroux, Radical Democracy, and Border Pedagogy.Critical Theory for Library and Information Science, eds. G.K. Leckie et al., pp. 131-142. Libraries Unlimited, Oxford. Foster, S. (1993) Information Literacy: Some Misgivings. American Libraries, 24(4), pp.344–346. Gage, R. A. (2004) “Henry Giroux’s “Abandoned Generation” & Critical Librarianship”, Progressive Librarian,23(Spring 2004), pp. 64-74. Giroux, H. (2012) Education and the Crisis of PublicValues. Peter Laing, NewYork. Giroux, H. (2011) On Critical Pedagogy. Continuum, NewYork. Giroux, H. (2010) Lessons to be learned from Paulo Freire as education is being taken over by the mega rich. Truthout [Online] Available from: < freire-education-is-being-taken-over-mega-rich65363> [Accessed 13 May 2013]. IFLA (2006) Beacons of the Information Society:The Alexandria Proclamation on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning [Online] Available from: < information-society-the-alexandria-proclamation-on-information-literacy> [Accessed 13 May 2013]. Jacobs,H.L.L.M. and Berg, S. 2011. Reconnecting Information Literacy Policy with the Core Values of Librarianship. Library Trends 60(2), pp. 383-394. Kapitzke, C. (2003) (In)formation literacy: A positivist epistemology and a politics of (out)formation. Educational Theory 53(1), pp.37-53. Keer, G. (2009) Critical Pedagogy and Information Literacy in Community Colleges. Critical Library Instruction:Theories and Methods, eds. M.T. Accardi, E. Drabinski and A. Kumbier, pp.149-160. Library Juice Press, Duluth, MN. Kopp, B.M. and Olson-Kopp, K. (2009) Depositories of Knowledge: Library Instruction and the Development of Critical Consciousness. Critical Library Instruction:Theories and Methods, eds. M.T. Accardi, E. Drabinski and A. Kumbier, pp.55-68. Library Juice Press, Duluth, MN.
  18. 18. O’Connor, L. (2009) Information literacy as professional legitimation:The quest for professional jurisdiction. Library Review 58(4), pp. 272-289. Pankl, E. and Coleman, J. (2009) “There’s nothing on my topic!” Using the theories of OscarWilde and Henry Giroux to develop critical pedagogy for library instruction. Critical Library Instruction:Theories and Methods, eds. M.T. Accardi, E. Drabinski and A. Kumbier, pp.3-12. Library Juice Press, Duluth, MN. Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) (2011) The SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy: Core Model for Higher Education [Online] Available from: <> [Accessed 13 May 2013]. Špiranec, S., & Zorica, M. B. (2010) Information Literacy 2.0: hype or discourse refinement? Journal of Documentation,66(1), pp.140-153. Torrell, M.R. (2009) Negotiating Virtual Contact Zones: Revolutions in the role of the research workshop. Critical Library Instruction:Theories and Methods, eds. M.T. Accardi, E. Drabinski and A. Kumbier, pp.89- 104. Library Juice Press, Duluth, MN. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2012) Media and Information Literacy for Knowledge Societies [Online] Available from: < articles/in-focus-articles/2012/media-and-information-literacy-for-knowledge-societies/> [Accessed 13 June 2013]. Whitworth (2013) The politically and socially empowering dimensions of information literacy. Chat Literacy Blog [Online] Available from: <> [Accessed 13 May 2013]. Whitworth (2011) Information literacy and noöpolitics.Information Literacy:Infiltrating the agenda, challenging minds, eds. G.Walton and A. Pope, pp.187-218. Chandos Publishing, London.
  19. 19. Umbrella cc <3 unlimited on flickr Umbrella cc tworm on flickr Umbrella cc Luca Bruno Photographer on flickr Umbrella cc Ellie O. Photography on flickr Hands cc RasMarley on flickr Real Democracy Now Brighton cc DominicAlves on flickr This is what democracy looks like cc Charlie Owen on flickr Clouds cc Kamil Porembiński on flickr Clouds cc PhotoAtelier on flickr Clouds cc KarenDalziel on flickr Pillars cc Shaun Newman on flickr Newspaper cc just.Luc on flickr Newspapers cc Mustafa Khayat on flickr Bias binding cc Annemod on flickr Sprouts cc suicine on flickr