"The Library promotes student success through the development of critical thinking and independent research skills, and advances teaching and learning by supporting instruction and professional development."
Okanagan College transforms lives and communities. The vision of Okanagan College “as a catalyst for change” (Okanagan College, 2013) is crucial in this rapidly changing digital age where information is growing exponentially. Emerging technologies and the changing landscape of information are affecting how individuals and communities are navigating, managing and using information. Individuals in all fields are required to be information literate. The Okanagan College Library Department, in collaboration with the teaching departments and student support areas, is engaged in creating information literate learners. This is achieved through the instruction of information literacy that supports and enables the learning outcomes of Okanagan College’s courses and programs (Okanagan College. Library Department, 2013).
Information Literacy and Instruction
Development responsibility: Library Department
Approval responsibility: Library Management Committee
Version history: Draft Dec. 6, 2013; Library Department approval Dec. 6, 2013
Information literacy has been defined by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), as 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." (Association of College and Research Libraries [ACRL], 2000). The ACRL suggests that information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning and is “common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning” (ACRL, 2000).
UNESCO’s definition of information literacy in the Alexandria Proclamation of 2005 “takes a broader view that goes beyond learning, stating that: ‘Information literacy empowers people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals. It is a basic human right in a digital world and promotes social inclusion in all nations’” (Secker & Coonan, 2011).
In 2000 the ACRL adopted the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education which has become a key framework for teaching information literacy skills by academic librarians in North America. The standards join other information literacy models around the world to assist educators in the delivery of information literacy skills to learners. This group of standards has become one of “the most essential document[s], related to the emergence of information literacy as a recognized learning outcome at many institutions of higher education” (Bell, 2013).
The ACRL Standards are “the defacto definition of information literacy” (Bell, 2013) and are comprised of the following five core competencies where the information literate student:
1) Determines the nature and extent of the information needed.
2) Accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.
3) Evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge
base and value system.
4) Individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.
5) Understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses
and uses information ethically and legally. (ACRL, 2000).
For the past three decades Okanagan College librarians, in collaboration with teaching faculty departments, have been teaching information literacy to students across the institution in multiple programs and disciplines. This practice has resulted in an active program committed to providing information literacy instruction in support of developing information literate and lifelong learners. “With its focus on critical thinking and reasoning, information literacy is vital to students’ ability to learn while enrolled at Okanagan College and throughout their working life” (Okanagan College. Library Department, 2013).
The Library’s Mission states that “The Library promotes student success through the development of critical thinking and independent research skills, and advances teaching and learning by supporting instruction and professional development." The goal is to reach all students at all levels across the curriculum with information literacy and critical thinking skills. “Finally, information literacy should be transformational for the learner, changing their attitude, behaviour, outlook and even their world view” (Secker, 2011).
Association of College and Research Libraries. (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency
Bell, S. J. (2013, June 4). Rethinking ACRL’s information literacy standards: The process begins. ACRL Insider. Retrieved from http://www.acrl.ala.org/acrlinsider/archives/7329
Okanagan College. (2013). Mission. vision, values, guiding principles. Strategic Plan, 2010-2015. Kelowna, BC: Okanagan College. Retrieved from http://www.okanagan.bc.ca/Assets/Departments+(Administration) /Public+Affairs/Transform+Strategic+Plan+to+2015/stratplanpdf.pdf
Okanagan College. Library Department. Education plan, 2013 –2014. (2013, December 4). Kelowna, BC: Okanagan College.
Partners in learning: Okanagan College library strategic plan, 2012 – 2016. (2012). Kelowna, BC: Okanagan College Library. Retrieved from http://www.okanagan.bc.ca/Assets /Departments+(Administration) /Library/PDFs/libstratplan.pdf?method=1
Secker, J. & Coonan, E. (2011, July). A new curriculum for information literacy: Transitional. transferable . transformational. Cambridge: Arcadia Project. Retrieved from http://ccfil.pbworks.com/f /Executive_summary.pdf
Development of Information Literacy/Critical Thinking/Independent Research Skills The Library promotes student success through the development of critical thinking and independent research skills. The primary means by which the Library accomplishes this goal are librarian-led in-class research instruction sessions, individual research and reference assistance (in person, by email, and chat-based), and the creation of research guides.
● The Library worked with the English Department on a pilot project to formally incorporate information literacy skills into all first year English curricula. As part of the English Department’s commitment to the development of critical writing and reading skills, specific wording addressing information literacy has been included in all first year English syllabi. During the Fall 2009 semester, librarians attended 38 1st year English classes across four campuses and reached a total of 762 students in those classes. Pending review by the English department, this initiative could provide a model for the formal integration of information literacy skills wording into other research-based courses and programs at Okanagan College.
● A working group was established to develop a plan for the ongoing integration of information literacy into the learning outcomes of courses and programs.
● The number of in-class research instruction sessions led by librarians increased from 210 in 2007-08 to 263 in 2008-09, an increase of 25%. Over the same period, the number of students who received in-class research instruction from librarians increased by 15%, from 4,522 to 5,195. Preliminary statistics for Fall 2009 indicate a steady increase in the number of students who receive research instruction, from 2,492 in Fall 2007, to 3,189 in Fall 2008, to 3,555 in Fall 2009. The increase in delivery of these information literacy classes was assisted by the addition of a continuing position to the complement of librarians. In order to maintain this service at these levels, adequate funding for term librarians is required.
Taken from the Okanagan College Library Services Unit Plan 2010-11, page 3
Development of Information Literacy/Critical Thinking/Independent Research Skills
The Library promotes student success through the development of critical thinking and independent research skills. The primary means by which the Library accomplishes this goal are librarian-led in-class research instruction sessions, individual research and reference assistance (in person, by email, and chat-based), and the creation of research guides.
The theme of the Institute for Learning & Teaching's Winter 2014 issue of its newsletter Enhancing the Practice of Learning and Teaching is "Partners in Learning: Building an Information Literate Institution" inspired by the Augustana IL Workshop 2011.
Please take a look as well at previous issues of Enhancing the Practice of Learning and Teaching at the ILT's website.
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