In my last column, I discussed research on cognitive bias and the human mind, and speculated that what librarians call information literacy is a deeply unnatural state. The human mind hasn’t evolved to analyze carefully or think critically without a great deal of effort, and even then, the effort is often misplaced. That’s of course one reason we educate people, and higher education particularly values traits like intellectual curiosity and critical thought that often help us overcome our natural intellectual inclinations. But education is not necessarily a salvation.
Librarians tend to view information literacy in light of the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards. Information literacy is a set of competencies, a set of things we should be able to do. However, one of the many problems with becoming information literate in any robust sense is that it’s completely unnatural. The entire enterprise goes against the way the human mind tends to gather and use information. Human beings are animals perhaps capable of information literacy, but apparently designed to work in other ways.
Peer to Peer columnist Barbara Fister reflects on the need to reinvigorate instruction in light of how we now collect resources. This essay is part of an exclusive LJ series, Reinventing Libraries, that looks at how the digital shift is impacting libraries’ mission.
In a series of exclusive essays, thinkers from the library world address how the digital shift is impacting libraries’ mission. Peer to Peer columnist Barbara Fister reflects on the need to reinvigorate instruction in light of how we now collect resources. University of Washington iSchool’s Joseph Janes, in turn, calls for libraries to strike a balance between protecting privacy and innovating to add value—with patrons’ permission.