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

Susie Andretta (London Metropolitan University, London, UK)

Program: electronic library and information systems

ISSN: 0033-0337

Article publication date: 26 July 2011




Andretta, S. (2011), "Information Literacy in the Digital Age: An Evidence‐based Approach", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 45 No. 3, pp. 360-360.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

It is customary to start a book review by outlining the audience targeted, but here is where this book has the reviewer at a disadvantage, as it does not specify its audience in the introduction or in any of the other chapters. One can only speculate that, given the elementary level of its content, the dedication to the authors' students at the beginning of the book and the basic exercises displayed at the end of each chapter, this book is for first year undergraduate students who are not acquainted with the concept of information literacy. Chapter 12 gives a further clue in this respect as it offers advice on how to write a research paper and it is written very much with a first year student's perspective in mind.

The aim of this publication is to present basic explanations of various literacies (e.g. cultural, ethical, media, network to name a few), although it is unclear as to why some literacies were selected and some were not. For example, first year students may not be fully familiar with the intricacies of Web 2.0 or even Web 3.0, and may appreciate being told about these in the chapter on network literacy, albeit in a necessarily superficial way, as a detailed explanation of either of these concepts would require a book in itself. One can assume that students would want to use these resources in their academic work and therefore see the link between the effective information use promoted by information literacy and network literacy. What is rather puzzling, however, is the inclusion of financial literacy without any explanation as to why being financially literate would help students become information literate. Similarly, it is not clear why the chapter on government literacy would need to give an account of the Freemasons and the Magna Carta.

On a positive side, the book has an index and detailed references are also listed at the end of each chapter. In addition, the language used is readable and as each chapter offers a number of exercises and additional online sources this fits in with the original assumption that the book intends to be a basic introduction to the world of academia. However, if this is the case then the research papers included as appendices feel somehow out of place simply because they give detailed accounts of research on information literacy that would appeal to a professional audience. Overall, there are two major problems with this book. First, the lack of signposting undermines the relevance of a number of chapters so that one is left wondering why first year students would need to know about Babylonian or Egyptian libraries to be information literate. Secondly, by giving a basic coverage of such a wide range of literacies this book can only offer a very superficial account that raises more questions about information literacy that it answers.

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