Isothermal Community College logo Library Isothermal Community College Library
Last updated 3/2/16
Isothermal Community College
P.O. Box 804, Spindale NC 28160
(828) 395-1307  fax (828) 286-8208

Charles P. Wiggins, Director of Library Services

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      "Data Never Sleeps" 1-- link to a cool data graphic!

Information and Information Literacy

Information is knowledge acquired in any manner; facts; data; learning; lore... information applies to facts that are gathered in any way, by reading, observation, hearsay, etc., and does not necessarily connote validity.2

Information literacy, as defined by the American Library Association, is the ability to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information."3 Information literacy skills are not just for classroom use; they are life skills:

"...information literate people are those who have learned how to learn... they learn how knowledge is organized, how to find information, and how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them. They are people prepared for lifelong learning, because they can always find the information needed for any task or decision at hand."4

Information literacy skills include the following:

Determine the need: Do you need information, and if so, what information do you need? lincoln1

  • Pinpoint your question, or be sure you completely understand your assignment
  • Think about what you already know about this subject
Coke can
Identify information options, and choose your sources: What kinds of information are appropriate for your needs and how do you search for them?
Coke can    LCSH
  • Consider the Information Cycle Timeline5 or this Information Cycle Timeline from the B. D. Owens Library of NW Missouri State University to see sources of specific kinds of information. Do you need eyewitness accounts, early news, or later studies? Can the needed information be found by searching in the library catalog, in periodical databases, or other indexes? More detailed information on the information pubication cycle can be found on the website of the .
  • Think of keywords you can use to research this topic; using synonyms and related terms will help you find more information than is possible by using only one term.
    You can search in Library of Congress Subject Headings for authoritative subject headings for research using books.
Evaluate: Is your research method bringing you appropriate and helpful information? Is the information reliable?

Use information ethically:

  • Keep good records of the sources of information you use so that you can give credit to them.
  • Avoid plagiarism by giving credit properly to all sources you use.

Analyzing content is another information literacy skill that normally is addressed in English courses.

Information literacy skills are well illustrated in Seattle Central Community College's excellent web page resource, Research Process: Reflect Learn Connect.7


Illustration: "Information Literacy IFLA-UNESCO Logo." Logo. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO). InfoLit Global. Web. 3 September 2010.
1James, Josh. "Data Never Sleeps 4.0." Domosphere. 28 June 2016. Web. 17 August 2016.
2"Information." Def. 3 & Syn. Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language. College ed. 1968.
3, 4American Library Association. Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report. (Chicago: American Library Association, 1989.)
5Vassiliadis, Kim. "Published Information - The Information Timeline." Library Research Tutorial. Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 5 Aug. 2008. Web. 3 Sept. 2010.
6 Vassiliadis, Kim. "Evaluating Your Sources." Evaluating Information. Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. n.d. Web. Oct. 12, 2015.

Comments, questions, or corrections should be submitted to Charles P. Wiggins, Director of Library Services; Engle Troxler, or Becky Cleland, Librarians

Some links on this site go to external web sites not connected with Isothermal Community College. Their inclusion is not an endorsement by Isothermal and Isothermal is not responsible for accuracy of their content.