Trapped between a rock and a hard place: What counts as information literacy in the workplace and how is it conceptualized?

Annemaree Lloyd-Zantiotis

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    109 Citations (Scopus)
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    Information literacy has been proclaimed as a foundational literacy of the 21st century by many researchers, library practitioners and international agencies. However, there is still disagreement about how information literacy is conceptualized and what key elements constitute the practice. This disagreement has led to the practice/skills debate that has emerged from workplace research into information literacy. It has also led to claims that research into information literacy lacks theoretical framing from which models can be grounded (Todd 2010).While the library and higher education sector concentrate on information skills that are claimed to be generic and transferrable, there is little evidence from workplace research to suggest that this is indeed the case. In fact, the opposite appears to be true: that information literacy is enacted as a situated, collective and embodied practice that engages people with information and knowledge about domains of action that are authorized by the discourses of the setting. Consequently the information skills and competencies that are developed reflect the discursive practices of the setting. Without information literacy, other work-related practices and performances couldn't be accomplished, however the continued focus on skills limits our ability to understand information literacy as a socially enacted practice, one that constructed through a range of social activities. The issue therefore is how to represent the social activities that underpin information literacy.This paper conceptualizes information literacy from a workplace perspective and presents ongoing work towards a theoretical framework. It advances the view that information literacy appears to be trapped between a 'rock and a hard place'.The rock being the current conception of information literacy, which is unsatisfactory, because it is confined by the discursive practices of the education sector and does not account for the complex social processes that inform learning to work. The hard place, being the translation of information literacy practice with an understanding of how this practice happens, i.e. from the education sector into workplace performance. Drawing from empirical studies, this article will explore the current key issues related to workplace information literacy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)277-296
    Number of pages20
    JournalLibrary Trends
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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