In March of 2023 there was an outcry from tech leaders to place a hold on Artificial Intelligence (AI). The message came through loud and clear because of a race to release AI on social media platforms and other companies, to get it into the hands of the public. That race has people concerned and urging for regulations.
I’m not going to get into the details about the tremendous exponential growth of Artificial Intelligence or discuss too much about the implications of AI for school learning in general. But, I would like to stop at this moment in time, and ponder what AI could mean for learning in the library.
Is It Again, Time to Pivot?
If we pivot now, we lose.
Librarianship is a profession that pivots and grows with the times. “Innovate or Die” has been many librarians’ motto, out of necessity to remain relevant as information rapidly moved to the digital landscape.
However important it is to pivot sometime, this time, it is different.
No matter what happens with AI, information literacy is still the single most important thing we can teach students in the library. Now, more than ever before, all of our students must readily know how to locate important information, evaluate that information, and use it well.
Take it from one AASL leader, “There is a great and ever growing need for media/digital literacy to be embedded in everything we do. Guided Inquiry Design allows us the space and parameters to do that and in a context where learners will actually remember what we are teaching.” -Amanda Kordeliski (AASL Director at Large)
Right now, it is critical to maintain a sharp focus on what’s important. For the students in front of us today and tomorrow, it’s time to buckle down and harness the librarians’ expertise, information literacy.
Information literacy is no longer just a good idea. It’s a necessity.
Back in the 1980’s when the term was coined, information literacy seemed like a good idea (Kuhlthau Maniotes & Caspari, 2015). It was forward thinking. It seemed important for the future. Later, it became recognized as a useful academic skillset for preparing students for college and for life. Still seen as outside the core curriculum, it was mostly considered at that time to be a sort of learning “bonus”.
For those lucky enough to have a librarian, students would benefit from learning information literacy. As time progressed and information began coming at us at a breakneck speed, and now with AI at our heels, information literacy is no longer just a good idea. It’s no longer just an option for some students in college prep courses. It’s a necessity for everyone.
For more about information literacy concepts – Take this online course with library legend Dr. Carol Kuhlthau, Distinguished Professor Emerita, Rutgers University in the GID Academy.
Information literacy is absolutely essential. Every single student who walks through our doors must learn how to locate, evaluate, and use information. Think about how much better our next generation would be prepared for what’s to come, if every single student was adept at applying information literacy concepts for analyzing print, and digital texts for a variety of information tasks.
Yes, reading and interpreting texts* are fundamental skills. That remains to be true. But, evaluating texts with a critical stance is now equally as essential as learning how to read. In some ways, information literacy is an upgraded version of reading to learn. (*When I say “texts” here, I include an expanded scope of text including articles, books, video, images, podcasts, etc…)
Introducing Information Literacy Concepts
We need students who can think critically about information. If we can replicate what informed people do when they come upon information, and provide the context to practice those things, we would be preparing all students well.
How do informed people make decisions about information? They use concepts to drive their decision making about what to read, and how to share or use the information they find.
Concepts are bigger picture ideas that apply to all information tasks. In the book Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century, Dr. Carol Kuhlthau laid out important concepts for information literacy in the K-12 library.
Concepts are powerful because once understood, they allow the person to transfer the thinking to different situations. A library program centered on information literacy concepts, instead of just skills, will build healthy information habits equipping the next generation. Repeated use of concepts within a variety of information tasks over the years of schooling creates a cumulative effect.
So, What is an information literacy concept?
One larger concept we can all get behind is.
- The library is a place to get help in locating the information I need.
That’s our core purpose and messaging for our libraries in schools. We are already teaching this concept. But we can be more intentional about teaching this and others that apply more widely to information in use.
To do so, we can drill down into each area of information literacy to find more specific concepts that apply to a wide range of information tasks. Each area of locating, evaluating and using information encompasses specific concepts that can be taught and practiced based on the information task at hand. In the course mentioned above, each area of information literacy is addressed and concepts presented that will shift your information literacy practice to meet the needs of this ever changing landscape.
Author: Leslie Maniotes
PhD Instructional Specialist/Professional Development Lead BLV Consulting, LLC