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Information Literacy for Health Sciences Students: Information Literacy - What is it?

This library guide grew from the question "what should each UCSF health sciences student know about information finding and organization by the time they graduate?"


I can't imagine anything much more boring than starting this page with definitions. However I think we need to agree about what we are talking about.

The American Library Association, Medical Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), and may other American library groups essentially all use the same definition of Information Literacy (IL). This ALA statement dates from 1989.

In short and taken from the above page → Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information."

Sadly, the ACRL has rescinded  these more intelligible guidelines in 2016, and replaced them with this: "[M]etaliteracy … offers a renewed vision of information literacy as an overarching  set of abilities in which students are consumers and creators of information who can participate successfully in collaborative spaces. Metaliteracy demands behavioral, affective, cognitive, and metacognitive engagement with the information ecosystem."

All seem to agree the IL landscape has become much more complicated with the advances in digital technology and the explosion of the volume of information. We are all now able to create content and distribute content. We all need to improve our ability to find, evaluate, and manage information.

The graph shows the rapid increase in the number of articles added to PubMed per year.