Information literacy predates digital literacy and has its origins in the work of Zurkowski (1974) who referred to the ‘information literate person’ rather than the specific concept of information literacy. Zurkowski’spaper was written for the US National Commission on Libraries and Information Science and reflects two significant aspects of information literacy; firstly it was developed primarily in the sphere of library services, and secondly the US (and Australia) have traditionally been ahead of the UK in achieving widespread recognition for librarians as educators and raising the profile of information literacy (Secker 2004).
The structure of school library services in the UK has restricted the development of information literacy (Streatfield, Markless et al. 2011). As Streatfield et al point out, despite the rhetoric of successive governments concerning the importance of school libraries, UK schools are not required to have libraries and there are no standards for library service delivery. This has meant that it is up to individual schools and librarians to develop schemes. The traditional subject based curriculum compounds the marginalization of library services because there is no subject to ally it to. This has created obstacles to the absorption of library based information literacy into the mainstream curriculum.
Despite the structural limitations of the library service, the older provenance of information literacy means that models have been developed over time relevant to digital literacy. In particular information literacy is not associated with any specific technology resulting in a stress on the individual and social context. The term information literacy is used very broadly, covering concepts such as digital literacy, information handling, information skills, data curation and data management (Bent and Stubbings 2011). Its advocates describe it as a dispositional habit:
Information literacy is a way of thinking rather than a set of skills. . . [I]nformation literacy can become a dispositional habit . . . a ‘habit of mind’ that seeks ongoing improvement and self-discipline in inquiry, research and integration of knowledge from varied sources.
(Center for Intellectual Property in the Digital Environment 2005: viii-ix)
The emphasis on critical thinking connects to Freire’s agenda of critical literacy referred to above.
References: see 3.1.4 References / Links to Further Resources