Purpose ' The purpose of this article is to explore the contribution that an information literacy approach to the empirical study of workplace learning can make to how people understand and conceptualise workplace learning. Design/methodology/approach ' Three cohorts of fire-fighters working in two regional locations in NSW, Australia were interviewed using a semi-structured interview approach. Constructivist grounded theory methodology was employed to work with the data; post-structuralism. Findings ' Study findings indicate that an understanding of information literacy and information literacy practices contributes to workplace learning by highlighting the relationship between different modalities of information, and the relationship between workplace learning and professional identity. Information literacy is not solely confined to developing skills related to accessing information in textual or digital modalities, but requires access to social and physical sources of information. Originality/value ' The information literacy approach contributes to a developing understanding of the role of workplace learning by highlighting the process as a catalyst for learning. This process is underpinned by ways of knowing about the types of situated information sources that are valuable for learning about practice and profession.