Information literacy and democracy

CHICAGO — We are all deluged with information. Much of it is useful, valuable, or enriching. But a lot of it is of dubious quality and provenance, if not downright dangerous. Misinformation forms part of the mix. The ability to get the most out of the information flow, finding, interpreting and using it, and particularly developing a critical mindset towards it, requires skills, know-how, judgement and confidence – such is the premise of information literacy. This is true for many aspects of human endeavor, including education, work, health and self-enrichment. It is notably true also for acquiring an understanding of the wider world, for reaching informed views, for recognizing bias and misinformation, and thereby for playing a part as active citizens, in democratic life and society. “Informed Societies: Why Information Literacy Matters for Citizenship, Participation and Democracy,” published by Facet Publishing and available through the ALA Store, is a ground-breaking and uniquely multi-disciplinary book that explores how information literacy can contribute to fostering the attitudes, habits, and practices that underpin an informed citizenry. Edited by Stéphane Goldstein, its 13 chapters each come from a particular perspective and are authored by international experts representing a range of fields, including information literacy itself but also political science, pedagogy, information science, and psychology. Among the topics covered are:

  • why information literacy and informed citizens matter for healthy, democratic societies;
  • information literacy’s relationship with political science;
  • information literacy’s relationship with human rights;
  • how information literacy can help foster citizenship, participation, empowerment and civic engagement in different contexts: school students, refugees, older people, and in wider society;
  • information literacy as a means to counter misinformation and fake news; and
  • the challenges of addressing information literacy as part of national public policy.

Goldstein is Executive Director of InformAll which, through research, analysis and facilitation, promotes the relevance, importance and benefits of information literacy in the library world and beyond. He is the author of reports, articles and other material on the relevance and applicability of IL to a range of settings, particularly in the context of the workplace. He is a strong advocate for IL, and as such, brokers relationships between information professionals and other stakeholders, and facilitates joint projects. He previously spent 10 years at the Research Information Network (RIN), where he led on information literacy activities; there, he was also responsible for project management and policy formulation in the broad area of information as a input and output of the research process. He previously worked in a range of science and research policy roles at the Medical Research Council and Research Councils UK.

Facet Publishing, the commercial publishing and bookselling arm of CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, is the leading publisher of books for library and information professionals worldwide. Many book retailers and distributors are experiencing service disruptions or delays, including Amazon. For speediest service, order direct from the ALA Store. ALA Store purchases fund advocacy, awareness and accreditation programs for library and information professionals worldwide. ALA Editions | ALA Neal-Schuman publishes resources used by library and information professionals, scholars, students, and educators to improve programs and services, build on best practices, enhance pedagogy, share research, develop leadership, and promote advocacy. ALA authors and developers are leaders in their fields, and their content is published in a variety of print and electronic formats. Contact ALA Editions | ALA Neal-Schuman at [email protected].

Originally published at https://www.ala.org/news/member-news/2020/06/information-literacy-and-democracy

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