Development of the Concept of Information Literacy

The term information literacy first appeared in American librarianship in 1974. Paul Zurkowski, the founder of the term, recognised the need for techniques and skills to better use the increasing wealth of information for problem-solving and decision-making.

In the early 1990s the term information literacy was first cited in German-language trade publications, and was later translated as “Informationskompetenz”. It was recognised that information literacy involver more that the most common library entries and user training. An information literate person recognises when and why they need information, where the desired information in available and constantly evaluates whether they can actually use the information found. They are able to process the information in the creation of a new product. Therefore, information literacy involves more than just occasional training. Information literacy is a process that seeks to stimulate a critical approach to information and significantly contributes to lifelong learning in our information culture.

In connection with the term information literacy, related literacy terms such as library, media and social science also appear. These are aspects of information literacy.

Information Literacy in Switzerland

In the information society, information literacy is regarded as one of the most important skills for success in study and work. To achieve consistency in the impartation and promotion of information literacy at Swiss universities, the project “Information Literacy at Swiss Universities” developed the Swiss Standards of Information Literacy. These six standards were supplemented by related learning objectives (course objectives). These show that, according to recent studies, information literacy should not be limited to the use of library tools but should include contemporary issues such as “Next use of Information” and “Responsibility for Information”. The direct development of these learning objectives is the corresponding competency grid, which formulates competencies in three stages for each standard. These can be used as learning objectives or content descriptions for courses in the area of information literacy. The Competency Grid Guide explains what knowledge is expected at the three levels.

With clear citation of the authors the standards and associated competency grid may be freely used, commercial use is prohibited. See Creative Commons License

Other information

Flieger, Elisabeth & Siegfried, Doreen (2011). World Wide Wissenschaft: Informationsmanagement von Wirtschaftswissenschaftler/inne/n. Kiel: Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft.

Ingold, Marianne (2011). Information als Gegenstand von Informationskompetenz: eine Begriffsanalyse. Berlin: Institut für Bibliothekswissenschaft der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Gapski, Harald & Tekster, Thomas (2009). Informationskompetenz in Deutschland: Expertise. Düsseldorf: Landesamt für Medien Nordrhein-Westfalen.

Bättig, Esther (2005). Information Literacy an Hochschulen: Entwicklungen in den USA, in Deutschland und der Schweiz. Chur: Arbeitsbereich Informationswissenschaft.

Ingold, Marianne (2005). Das bibliothekarische Konzept der Informationskompetenz: ein Überblick. Berlin: Institut für Bibliothekswissenschaft der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.