The incredible quantity and diversity of unfiltered information facing individuals in their day-to-day lives presents enormous challenges for how we make daily decisions about our health, jobs, finances, politics, and education.
Misinformation is a most significant threat to our ability, as a society, to make knowledgeable decisions about our future. A recent study of university students in the United States revealed that 40% of students considered information found on the Web to be trustworthy and that students valued the currency of information over its accuracy when selecting a specific piece of information. Most significantly, although students indicated that they evaluated their information, they were quite willing to use information so long as it suited their needs, formulating their own subjective criteria, when necessary. (Wang and Artero, 2005, p. 79)
The best way to protect ourselves against misinformation is to learn how to: 1. Correctly identify our information needs 2. Develop effective search strategies for locating information sources 3. Critically evaluate information based on predetermined criteria 4. Use information ethically and legally 5. Incorporate new information into our existing knowledge base Essentially this is the process of becoming Information Literate. Just as literacy is the process of decoding and comprehending text, information literacy is the process of breaking down the information seeking process into stages that allow people to take a step back and truly analyze their approach to gathering information. The LIBIT department fully endorses the practice of developing information literacy skills. Many of our courses examine the information seeking behaviors of human beings and most of our courses cultivate a familiarity and respect for the process of seeking information. Cecelia Dirksen, a LIBIT student, has produced a very well articulated summary of the information literacy issue for academic libraries in her paper: Information Literacy: A Cooperative Learning Process.
For more information on Information Literacy visit the links below:
Wang, Yu-Mei and Artero, Marge. (2005). Caught in the Web: university student use of Web Resources. Educational Media International 42(1), 71-82. Retrieved January 14, 2007 from Ebsco Academic Search Premier.