Purpose ' To establish that, in the opinion of the author, there is a need for an information literacy skill set for citizens of the modern information society, and that the role of library and information professionals may have to evolve, from intermediaries to facilitators and trainers. Design/methodology/approach ' An opinion piece based on the author's experiences in digital library research, as a citizen of an information society and as a worker in the knowledge economy. Findings ' That citizens of information societies have direct access to a bewildering range of digital information resources. Librarians and information professionals face less demand for their traditional role as intermediaries. Information literacy is defined and described as a vital skill set for citizens of information societies. It is suggested that librarians and information professionals are needed to pass on these skills to citizens at all levels of society for economic, social and personal empowerment. Research limitations/implications ' The paper reflects the perspective of the author ' it is not supported by quantitative data (notoriously difficult to collect on information literacy). Practical implications ' Provides suggestions on how the library and information profession can retain their relevance to society in the networked age. Originality/value ' This is the particular viewpoint of the author, with a diverse range of examples cited to back up the thrust of the paper. It describes how information literacy is required to interact effectively with the digital environment on an emotional as well as an intellectual level.