Information literacies

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Information literacies are the multiple literacies individuals may need to function effectively in the global information society.[1] These are distinct from the broad term information literacy.


The definition of literacy is "the ability to read and write".[2] In practice many more skills are needed to locate, critically assess and make effective use of information.[3] By extension, literacy now also includes the ability to manage and interact with digital information and media, in personal, shared and public domains.[4][5][6][7]

Historically, "information literacy" has largely been seen from the relatively top-down, organisational viewpoint of library and information sciences.[1] However the same term is also used to describe a generic "information literacy" skill.[1]

New literacies and 21st century skills[edit]

Towards the end of the 20th century, literacy was redefined to include "new literacies" relating to the new skills needed in everyday experience.[7][3] "Multiliteracies" recognised the multiplicity of literacies, which were often used in combination.[8][7][3] "21st century skills" frameworks link new literacies to wider life skills such as creativity, critical thinking, accountability.[9][7]

What these approaches have in common is a focus on the multiple skills needed by individuals to navigate changing personal, professional and public "information landscapes".[7][1][10][3][11]

Contemporary views[edit]

As the conventional definition of literacy itself continues to evolve among practitioners,[12] so too has the definition of information literacies. Noteworthy definitions include:

  • CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Practitioners, defines information literacy as "the ability to think critically and make balanced judgements about any information we find and use".[6]
  • JISC, the Joint Information Systems Committee, refers to information literacy as one of six "digital capabilities", seen as an interconnected group of elements centered on "ICT literacy".[5]
  • Mozilla groups digital and other literacies as "21st century skills", a "broad set of knowledge, skills, habits and traits that are important to succeed in today's world".[13]
  • UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, asserts information literacy as a "universal human right".[4]

Key information literacies[edit]

The term information literacy covers many distinct fields, which are both distinct and interrelated. The following are key information literacies.

Critical literacy
Critical literacy is the ability to actively analyse texts and media to identify underlying messages, taking into account context, perspective and possible biases.[14]
Computer literacy
Computer literacy is the ability to use computers and other digital devices efficiently enough to carry out basic or more advanced tasks.[15]
Copyright literacy
Copyright literacy is the ability to manage creative output and make appropriate use of the work of others, informed by knowledge of copyright, ownership, usage and other rights.[16]
Data literacy
Data literacy is the ability to gather, interpret and analyse data, and communicate insights and information from this analysis. Increasingly important in everyday life, over 80% of employers cite data literacy as a key skill for employees.[17]
Digital literacy
Digital literacy is the ability to use technology to manage and interact with digitized information, participate in online practice and originate digital work.[18]
Disaster literacy
Disaster literacy is an individual's ability to read, understand, and use information to make informed decisions and follow instructions in the context of mitigating, preparing, responding, and recovering from a disaster.[19]
Financial literacy
Financial literacy is the capacity of an individual to understand available banking products, services, laws and obligations, and make informed decisions on financial assets.
Health literacy
Health literacy is the ability of individuals to locate, understand, manage, and make appropriate use of information to help promote and maintain good health.[20][21]
Media literacy
Media literacy is the ability to locate, critically evaluate, communicate with and make effective use of different types of media.[22]
Transliteracy combines capabilities in information literacy, technology, creativity, communication and collaboration, critical thinking, practical skills and craft, to cross cultures, contexts, technologies and media.[23]
Visual literacy
Visual literacy is the ability to interpret and make meaning from visual information such as static or moving images, graphics, symbols, diagrams, maps.[24]
Web literacy
Web literacy is the ability to navigate the world wide web, interact effectively and thrive online, while managing online presence, privacy and risk.[25]


  1. ^ a b c d Lloyd, Annemaree (2017-06-05). "Information literacy and literacies of information: a mid-range theory and model". Journal of Information Literacy. 11 (1): 91–105. doi:10.11645/11.1.2185. ISSN 1750-5968.
  2. ^ "Cambridge Dictionary | English Dictionary, Translations & Thesaurus". Retrieved 2020-02-16.
  3. ^ a b c d Kinzer, Charles K.; Leu, Donald J. (2016), "new literacies, New Literacies", in Peters, Michael A. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory, Springer Singapore, pp. 1–7, doi:10.1007/978-981-287-532-7_111-1, ISBN 978-981-287-532-7
  4. ^ a b UNESCO (2017). "Media and Information Curriculum for Teachers" (PDF).
  5. ^ a b JISC (2018). "Building digital capabilities: The six elements defined" (PDF).
  6. ^ a b Secker, Jane (2018-06-04). "The revised CILIP definition of information literacy". Journal of Information Literacy. 12 (1): 156. doi:10.11645/12.1.2454. ISSN 1750-5968.
  7. ^ a b c d e van Laar, Ester; van Deursen, Alexander J. A. M.; van Dijk, Jan A. G. M.; de Haan, Jos (2017-07-01). "The relation between 21st-century skills and digital skills: A systematic literature review". Computers in Human Behavior. 72: 577–588. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2017.03.010. ISSN 0747-5632.
  8. ^ The New London Group (1996). "A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures". Harvard Educational Review. 66 (1): 60–93. doi:10.17763/haer.66.1.17370n67v22j160u. ISSN 0017-8055.
  9. ^ Clarke, Jody; Dede, Chris (2008-10-20), "Robust Designs for Scalability", Learning and Instructional Technologies for the 21st Century, Springer US, pp. 1–22, doi:10.1007/978-0-387-09667-4_3, ISBN 978-0-387-09666-7
  10. ^ Knobel, Michele; Lankshear, Colin (2014). "Studying New Literacies". Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 58 (2): 97–101. doi:10.1002/jaal.314.
  11. ^ Sang, Yuan (2017). "Expanded Territories of "Literacy": New Literacies and Multiliteracies". ResearchGate.
  12. ^[bare URL PDF]
  13. ^ "21st Century Skills - Mozilla Learning". Retrieved 2020-02-16.
  14. ^ Vasquez, Vivian Maria (2017-03-29). "Critical Literacy". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190264093.013.20. ISBN 978-0-19-026409-3. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  15. ^ "What does computer literacy mean?". Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  16. ^ "IFLA -- Accelerating Access: IFLA Releases Statement on Copyright Literacy". Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  17. ^ "A Data and Analytics Leader's Guide to Data Literacy". Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  18. ^ "Developing digital literacies". Jisc. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  19. ^ Brown, Lisa M.; Haun, Jolie N.; Peterson, Lindsay (June 2014). "A Proposed Disaster Literacy Model". Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. 8 (3): 267–275. doi:10.1017/dmp.2014.43. ISSN 1935-7893. PMID 24992944. S2CID 24971741.
  20. ^ "WHO | Track 2: Health literacy and health behaviour". WHO. Archived from the original on May 15, 2010. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  21. ^ Diamond, Lisa; Izquierdo, Karen; Canfield, Dana; Matsoukas, Konstantina; Gany, Francesca (2019). "A Systematic Review of the Impact of Patient–Physician Non-English Language Concordance on Quality of Care and Outcomes". Journal of General Internal Medicine. 34 (8): 1591–1606. doi:10.1007/s11606-019-04847-5. ISSN 0884-8734. PMC 6667611. PMID 31147980.
  22. ^ "What is media literacy, and why is it important?". Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  23. ^ Sukovic, Suzana (2017). Transliteracy in complex information environments. Cambridge, MA. ISBN 978-0-08-100901-7. OCLC 961456025.
  24. ^ Serafini, Frank (2017-02-27). "Visual Literacy". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190264093.013.19. ISBN 978-0-19-026409-3. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
  25. ^ "Web Literacy: Vital to Internet Health". Mozilla. Retrieved 2020-03-27.