Information is social: information literacy in context

Jennifer Hoyer (Edmonton Social Planning Council, Edmonton, Canada)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Publication date: 15 February 2011



This paper aims to discuss traditional conceptions of information literacy as created within an academic context to address information needs within this context. It seeks to present alternative realities of information use outside the academic sector, and to suggest that information literacy instruction within academia does not go far enough in preparing students for the information society beyond university. The aim is then to follow this by discussion of appropriate information literacy models to prepare young people for information use in a variety of workplace environments.


As an example of the application of appropriate information literacy models for successful workplace information use, the Edmonton Social Planning Council youth internship program is examined through a case study of two successful internship projects.


This youth internship program provides young people with skills that are highly relevant to their information environment outside the academic sector. It provides them with a framework for interacting with information that can be applied in any academic or non‐academic setting in which they find themselves.

Practical implications

The program described could serve as inspiration for other public, private or nonprofit organizations to collaborate on similar initiatives. It also serves to remind academic librarians of core information best practices that must be conveyed through library instruction if students are to become good information citizens.


While information literacy instruction receives much attention in the academic sphere, it is necessary to take a broader view of information use throughout the lifetime of information users and the instruction required to prepare students adequately. The paper focuses on these issues.



Hoyer, J. (2011), "Information is social: information literacy in context", Reference Services Review, Vol. 39 No. 1, pp. 10-23.

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