Librarians help students develop information literacy: "a continuum of skills, behaviours, and approaches and values that is so deeply entwined with the uses of information as to be a fundamental element of learning, scholarship and research" (Coonan, 2011, pg. 5).
The American Library Association defines six underlying concepts of information literacy:
- Scholarship is a Conversation refers to the idea of sustained discourse within a community of scholars or thinkers, with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of competing perspectives and interpretations.
- Research as Inquiry refers to an understanding that research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex questions whose answers develop new questions or lines of inquiry in any field.
- Authority is Constructed and Contextual: Authority of information resources depends upon the resources’ origins, the information need, and the context in which the information will be used. This authority is viewed with an attitude of informed skepticism and an openness to new perspectives, additional voices, and changes in schools of thought.
- Format as a Process: Format is the way tangible knowledge is disseminated. The essential characteristic of format is the underlying process of information creation, production, and dissemination, rather than how the content is delivered or experienced.
- Searching as Exploration: Locating information requires a combination of inquiry, discovery, and serendipity. There is no one size fits all source to find the needed information. Information discovery is nonlinear and iterative, requiring the use of a broad range of information sources and flexibility to pursuit alternate avenues as new understanding is developed.
- Information has Value acknowledges that the creation of information and products derived from information requires a commitment of time, original thought, and resources that need to be respected by those seeking to use these products, or create their own based on the work of others. In addition, information may be valued more or less highly based on its creator, its audience/consumer, or its message.