Information Literacy Today


Having recognized the need for information: Information Literacy is the ability to obtain, judge the quality of and use the information obtained.In today's knowledge driven society one needs to be literate in several different ways. Not only knowing how to read, which unlocks the door to knowledge, but also one needs to be literate in accessing and retrieving information from a much wider variety of sources than in years gone by. The old card catalog is dead, so to speak. Everything has been digitized, for the most part, in the major libraries, the college and university library systems. This combined with sources on the Internet, the World Wide Web and the modern software versions of encyclopedias and books, has demanded that one either learn or relearn the methods to attain the information that is needed. Information literacy includes knowing how to utilize the tools, that are available to us today, to get the information that we need.

The Internet could be called the "Gateway to the Future". Today the potential of the vast resources of the Internet and all that it is comprised of, is like the era of the invention of the automobile, the telephone or the launching of the space program. The avenues are many and the opportunities abound in the new realms of the yet untapped potential of the Internet and it's multitude of uses. There have been so many added resources for information that we have to develop the skills necessary to mine the gold and leave the unprofitable waste where it is. The mind has yet to unlock all the potential that is there and harness it for the "Greater Good" of all mankind.

Unlike the "good old days" when reading, writing and arithmetic were the mainstay of learning, we must now add, at least basic computer knowledge. Information literacy must include knowing how to use the library tools such as, Electronic Information Network(EIN), EBESCO host, Infotrac Search Bank, and others found in the Online Reference Center in the Point Park College Library Center. The main Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Three Rivers Free-Net with the Current Magazine and Newspaper and other Mediasection are all welcome helpers at our disposal as well. Other resources include information from other Library Centers, State and Federal Government information sites and the different educational sites that are available to us. The knowledge of and use of Internet tools such as the many search engines and directories is a must in "the information age" in which we live. These, used to their fullest capabilities, become very useful to aide in narrowing down our searches for specific classifications and types of information.

Part of the utilizing of these tools is the basic knowledge of the computer it's operation and some of the software that is available for our convenience. Application software such as Word Perfect Office, MS Word, Excel, Access, Netscape, Internet Explorer, different e-mail programs, and website builders/editors can all be valuable tools in our hands as we increase our knowledge of their use.

The Internet has a tremendous amount of information available but not all of it is reliable. Knowing a criteria for evaluating the Internet offerings is a critical part of information literacy in our ever-changing technological society.Numerous books and web sites are available for us to see how some have done this. One good web site resource page, giving us some criteria for judging the information offered for our use is, Ten C's for Evaluating Internet Sources. All of these things, working together, can make our access to and retrieval of good reliable information for our personal, business and research use faster, easier and more reliable.

In printed matter, such as books, periodicals, magazine articles and such like, one can readily identify the author, subject matter, reference materials and sources, and the publishers. On the Internet it is more difficult to gather all the information that you need. At times the critical helpers that aide us in identifying viable material just aren't there. Here is a helper site for one to identify properly the place where information is obtained.

The age we live in is one of media hype, sound bytes and powerful influence. The dissemination of information that used to take days, weeks and even months can now, literally in seconds be sent around the world in text, picture, video and TV formats. One can e-mail a friend in Germany in seconds instead of waiting for the regular mail to reach them 5 to 7 days later. We are living literally on "The Breaking Wave" of technology today.

The better equipped we are to both find and judge the available information with the guideline of a good solid criteria the better able we are to handle it correctly. Information Literacy is a must for everyone.

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Copyright Charles Kitner 1999 - 2007