Information literacy can be defined as the ability to use information effectively. Students need to define information requirements, locate, select, organise, create, share and evaluate the information (Australian School Library Association and Australian Library and Information Association [ASLA & ALIA], 2001, p. 77). The Teacher Librarian (TL), with dual qualifications as teacher and librarian, can be an active player in the curriculum design and information literacy and inquiry learning.
Information literacy skills should focus on evaluating sources, citing evidence, building a strong argument and drawing conclusions. Time needs to be allocated for all students to engage in research and library instruction (Creighton, 2013). Carlson & Brosnaham (2009) suggest that teachers and teacher librarians use an inquiry-based “I-search” method to make research interesting and productive. Other research models are Big6 and Super3 (Truth, Lies, Hype, or Fact?. 2007). Information literacy lessons will take several sessions and must be embedded into classroom activities (Strittmatter, 2012)
The TL in collaboration with the subject teacher can design meaningful research assignments, develop Search Strategies which will identify the range of the search, and find and use appropriate sources. They can develop strategies for showing students how to construct a query for databases, Internet or the library catalogue. Asselin & Lee (2002) state that this collaboration occurs much less frequently than is desirable.
Location and selection of information should represent different viewpoints, and ensure reliable authorship. Morrissette (2007) states that in a survey conducted in her library a “revealing finding is that only 48 percent of the students were able to identify the most reliable Web site”. Other students thought that Wikipedia was a reliable source of information, until she demonstrated how easy it is to add worthless information to that site. Thinking critically and careful evaluation about websites must be taught. Many schools have a Website Evaluation Check Sheet to guide students. How many students understand how to use them? The TL must be able to teach and demonstrate this knowledge. Skimming or using only parts of a record or article to decide whether this is a suitable piece of work to use is another skill to be demonstrated (ASLA & ALIA, 2001, p. 16).
The teacher will often be the person to set and assess assignments, but results of the information literacy process can be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the TL’s involvement with the explicit teaching of information literacy (ASLA & ALIA, 2001, p. 22).
A study at Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland, revealed that students with better information literacy skills had higher academic achievement (Bailey & Paul, 2012). It was noted that the test was given to teaching staff to give them a better understanding of information literacy skills, enabling TLs to identify ways of fostering a collaborative process for teaching these skills.
Professional learning in Information Literacy is essential for all teachers. This is an opportunity for TLs to provide information about all current resources accessible from the library (Boyd, 2006).
Teachers and students need to know how to research, how to find resources and use them authentically (Asselin & Lee, 2002). Kibby, in Asselin & Lee (2002), suggests that as the workplace is competitive, the key to success will be “gaining, transforming and generating knowledge… most especially, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of multiple pieces and forms of information”. The role of the Teacher Librarian is pivotal to the success of the information literacy skill program.
Asselin, M.M., & Lee, E.A. (2002). “I wish someone had taught me”: Information Literacy in a Teacher Education Program. Teacher Librarian, 30(2), 10.
Australian School Library Association and Australian Library and Information Association. (2001). Learning for the future : developing information services in schools (2nd ed.). Carlton, Vic. : Curriculum Corporation.
Bailey, G. C., & Paul, M. A. (2012). Report from the Field: Outcome Evaluation of the Library Media Program on Information Literacy Skills in Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland. Teacher Librarian, 39(5), 46-49.
Boyd, S (2006). The connected library : a handbook for engaging users. Hawthorn, VIC : Utopia Press.
Carlson, C., & Brosnahan, E. 2009. Guiding Students into Information Literacy: Strategies for Teachers and Teacher-Librarians. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow.
Creighton, P. (2013). Tools of the Trade. Library Media Connection, 31(4), 45.
Morrissette, R. (2007). What Do They Know?. Knowledge Quest, 35(5), 14-17.
Strittmatter, C. (2012). Developing and assess a library instruction module for a core business class. Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship,17, 95-105.
Truth, Lies, Hype, or Fact?. (2007). Library Media Connection, 26(2), 5.