Information Literacy in the Digital Age: An Evidence‐based Approach

Arthur Winzenried (Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 28 June 2011




Winzenried, A. (2011), "Information Literacy in the Digital Age: An Evidence‐based Approach", Library Review, Vol. 60 No. 6, pp. 537-538.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This new work on a topic that is of great interest to many, offers some very practical and accessible views. The old world of print materials is being seriously challenged by the growth of digital material (Johnson, 2010). In this new digital, even “post‐literate” age where does information literacy belong? And what exactly has it become?

This new book sets out to provide some very practical answers to these questions. There is no room for doubt as far as the authors of this work are concerned, that these and related questions are vital. They see information literacy as being of the “utmost importance” (p. 7) in the modern digital world, globalization demands it. Not being sufficiently information literate can cost the individual significant social and economic opportunities.

On the basis of its critical importance, Welsh and Wright set out a number of aspects, or literacies, which they see as combining to form what is generally titles “information lliteracy”. These separate literacies, they contend, need to be understood and mastered before an individual can be truly and sufficiently, information literate. High on the agenda are cultural considerations. Because culture determines information organization, the intending literate needs to adequately understand the way their culture organizes its literature. Being able to “search the library” is one example of this.

Following on from cultural literacy is ethical literacy or “scholarly communication”. The use of understood and acceptable communications is a critical skill needed, it is argued, by all who plan to be information literate. Further “literacies” follow. These include cultural literacy, library literacy, ethical and network literacies and even financial literacy. In fact, one of the key aspects of Information Literacy in the Digital Age.

Multi‐literacies rather than a more genralised “information literacy” are the focus of this work. While other authors have dealt with the theory of these (Lloyd, 2010a), this work looks at the more hands‐on aspects with the majority of the work identifying ten key “literacies”. Significantly, a number of these tie in well with the roles and relationships discussed by Lombard (2010) in his work Pursuing Information Literacy.

While still based on perhaps more “mainstream” understandings of information literacy than does Lloyd (2010a), this work in hands on rather than theoretical but follows Lloyd into the relatively new territory of multiple literacies.

Sections include discussion of meanings and implications together with exercises and extended reading lists. Appendices set out some valuable tools for information literacy measurement including a 40‐item competency instrument (Appx 1) and several trail reports based on North American practice. Not only do these offer the possibility of practical application but they also offer some serious points for discussion. The fourth example in particular raises the interesting possibility of direct links between information literacy and critical thinking. Can these two be effectively quantified and compared?

Set out as it is with brief discussion, definitions, exercises and further readings, this work lends offers considerable potential for information educators who might be searching for a rather comprehensive text book that does not necessarily limit itself either to the more conventional skills approach or to the more ethereal practice conceptualization of information literacy in this modern digital age. In this format, the work has much to offer students in the higher education sector.


Johnson, D. (2010), “Miles library: annotated”, in Winzenried, A. (Ed.), Visionary Leaders for Information, CIS, Wagga Wagga, pp. 98114.

Lloyd, A. (2010), Information Literacy Landscapes: Information Literacy in Education, Workplace and Everyday Contexts, Chandos Technology Management, Cambridge, MA.

Lombard, E. (2010), Pursuing Information Literacy, Roles and Relationships, Chandos Technology Management, Cambridge, MA.

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