IFLA Media and Information Literacy Recommendations

Great statement from IFLA about the importance of media and information literary followed by some recommendations.

IFLA Media and Information Literacy Recommendations:

In order to survive and develop, make decisions, and solve problems in every facet of life – personal, social, educational, and professional, individuals, communities, and nations need information about themselves as well as their physical and their social environments. This information is available via three processes: observation and experimentation, conversation (with other persons), and consultation (with memory institutions). The competence to do this effectively and efficiently is called Media and Information Literacy.

Media and Information Literacy consists of the knowledge, the attitudes, and the sum of the skills needed to know when and what information is needed; where and how to obtain that information; how to evaluate it critically and organise it once it is found; and how to use it in an ethical way. The concept extends beyond communication and information technologies to encompass learning, critical thinking, and interpretative skills across and beyond professional and educational boundaries. Media and Information Literacy includes all types of information resources: oral, print, and digital.

Media and Information Literacy is a basic human right in an increasingly digital, interdependent, and global world, and promotes greater social inclusion. It can bridge the gap between the information rich and the information poor. Media and Information Literacy empowers and endows individuals with knowledge of the functions of the media and information systems and the conditions under which these functions are performed. Media and Information Literacy is closely related to Lifelong Learning. Lifelong Learning enables individuals, communities, and nations to attain their goals and to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the evolving global environment for the shared benefit of all individuals, not just a few. It assists them and their institutions and organisations to meet their technological, economic, and social challenges, to redress disadvantages, and to advance every individual’s well-being.

Under the umbrella of the developing information/knowledge society at all levels – local, regional, national, and international, we urge governments and intergovernmental organizations as well as private institutions and organisations to pursue policies and programs that advocate for and promote Media and Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning for all. In so doing, they will provide the vital foundation for fulfilling the goals of the United Nations Millennium Declaration and the World Summit on the Information Society.

In particular, IFLA recommends that governments and organisations to do the following:

  • Commission research on the state of Media and Information Literacy and produce reports, using the Media and Information Literacy indicators as a base, so that experts, educators, and practitioners are able to design effective initiatives;
  • Support professional development for education, library, information, archive, and health and human services personnel in the principles and practices of Media and Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning;
  • Embed Media and Information Literacy education in all Lifelong Learning curricula;
  • Recognise Media and Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning as key elements for the development of generic capabilities which must be demonstrated for accreditation of all education and training programs;
  • Include Media and Information Literacy in the core and continuing education of information professionals, educators, economic and government policymakers and administrators, as well as in the practice of advisors to the business, industry and agriculture sectors;
  • Implement Media and Information Literacy programs to increase the employability and entrepreneurial capacities of women and disadvantaged groups, including migrants, the underemployed and the unemployed; and,
  • Support thematic meetings which will facilitate the acquisition of Media and Information and Lifelong Learning strategies within specific regions, sectors, and population groups.

Endorsed by the Governing Board of IFLA, at its meeting in Den Haag, The Netherlands, 7 December 2011

Study: How The American Public Benefits from Internet and Computer Access at Public Libraries

The report, Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries (pdf), is based on the first, large-scale study of who uses public computers and Internet access in public libraries, the ways library patrons use this free technology service, why they use it, and how it affects their lives. It was conducted by the University of Washington Information School and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The executive summary (pdf)  is only 12 pages long and worth a complete read.  Some key points I pulled out:

  • Over the past year, 45 percent of the 169 million visitors to public libraries connected to the Internet using a library computer or wireless network during their visit
  • As the nation struggled through a historic recession, nearly one-third of the U.S. population over the age of 14 used library Internet computers and those in poverty relied on these resources even more
  • The library’s role as a technology resource has exploded since 1996, when only 28 percent of libraries offered Internet access.
  • up to a third of all libraries say they lack even minimally adequate Internet connections to meet demand. More report that they cannot provide the access their patrons truly need
  • 44 percent of people in households living below the federal poverty line ($22,000 a year for a family of four) used public library computers and Internet access.
  • Among young adults (14–24 years of age) in households below the federal poverty line, 61 percent used public library computers and Internet for educational purposes.
  • Among seniors (65 and older) living in poverty, 54 percent used public library computers for health or wellness needs.

My personally favorite fact

nearly two-thirds of library computer users (63 percent) logged on to help others.

Recommendations from the report:

  • State and local government should include libraries in comprehensive broadband deployment and adoption strategies.
  • Business and government agencies should engage libraries in economic and workforce development strategies.
  • State and local education reform initiatives should partner with and invest in public libraries to broaden educational opportunities for K-12 students and adults.
  • Public and private health officials and organizations should support the public library as a partner in disseminating health and wellness information and as a resource for future health communications research.
  • Federal, state, and local government agencies should support libraries as points of access for eGovernment services. Government agencies are moving a
  • Support technology services that build communities.
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