Journal of Information Literacy

Just a brief post to mention I’ve got a paper in the Journal of Information Literacy, which was published yesterday. The paper was based on my LILAC Conference paper and is largely a literature review about critical information literacy, with some explanation of the methodology for my PhD research. The journal is online and open access, so you can read the paper here.

In the editorial, Jane Secker writes:

Smith’s paper, entitled ‘Towards a model of critical information literacy instruction for the development of political agency’ is thought provoking. Building on the fields of critical pedagogy and critical literacy, Smith argues that IL should adopt a critical approach in order to meaningfully engage with its democratic social goals. She further argues that critical IL could be of benefit to young people of secondary school age, in terms of increasing their political agency through increased critical abilities. The paper is based on an ongoing doctoral study, which promises to challenge our ideas of what and how we teach IL at school level.

It’s a bumper issue of JIL this time round, with some great papers from LILAC and a short piece on information literacy in public libraries and how although it’s not often recognised, public libraries make a contribution to information literacy education.

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‘Towards a model of critical information literacy instruction for the development of political agency’
Lauren Smith
2013, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 15-32
http://dx.doi.org/10.11645/7.2.1809

Abstract

Critical pedagogy is an educational movement which gives people the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and sense of responsibility necessary to engage in a culture of questioning. These abilities are of benefit to young people, increasing their political agency through heightened awareness of social injustice and the means by which to communicate and challenge this. A central feature of the critical pedagogical approach is critical literacy, which teaches analysis and critiquing skills. Critical literacy has been recommended by a number of authors as a valuable aspect to include in information literacy (IL) instruction. Critical IL could contribute to enabling the development of political agency and increasing meaningful and active involvement in democratic processes.

With the focus on the value of IL becoming increasingly important within library and information science (LIS), it is important to be aware of its roots, the problems yet to be overcome and to consider ways in which the concept can be developed. The paper argues that it is necessary for IL to adopt a critical approach in order to meaningfully engage with the democratic social goals of LIS and address some of the limitations of IL theories. The paper focuses on the ways in which the theory of critical IL may be of benefit to young people of secondary school age, in terms of increasing their political agency through increased critical abilities, channeling their perceived political cynicism and distrust into critical thinking and a sense of agency, increased political knowledge, efficacy and participation. It is suggested that libraries could contribute to critical IL instruction in partnership with young people and people in teaching and parenting roles, and that it is important for the LIS profession and discipline to embrace the inherently political nature of pedagogy and LIS practices to effectively apply critical theories.

Further research into the ways in which IL can contribute to democratic goals would be of benefit. A current PhD research project which explores a methodology for identifying the needs of young people in order to apply critical IL practices for political agency is introduced.

This paper is based on a presentation given at LILAC 2013.

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