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Should We Give Up on Information Literacy?
May/June 2022 Issue

How to Succeed

Our messaging needs to change. We have, for so long, argued that faculty need to let us into their courses so that students can learn how to use our resources. We haven’t, with the same fervor, argued that instruction in research process skills is essential to student education.

It is time to enlist the support of those who can help us shift to a new paradigm. Our messaging needs to be along these lines:

• Inadequate student research skills are problematic to our students’ critical thinking.

• We can teach them the skills they need to become savvy and thoughtful problem solvers who use academic information and evidence in such a way that they are able to do their disciplines rather than just learn about subject matter.

• Rethinking education in the light of our move from information scarcity to information abundance is essential if we want to produce truly educated students.

There are many ways this can be done, including embedding and credit courses within disciplines. I suggested in an earlier column (January/February 2022), that faculty could be a key teaching resource with librarians serving as consultants. What is most important is that we not abandon our vision.

I have been doing infolit for decades. If I’d wanted to give up on it, I would have done so long ago. Maybe I’m foolishly tilting at windmills, or maybe I just don’t know when to quit.

Or maybe I understand that information literacy is the future of education in a world where we have all the information we need, while our ability to enlist that information in an evidence-based search for answers to big questions is deplorably weak. We can do better. We have to do better.

Let one of my students have the last word. She wrote me upon completion of her degree: “It all started with your research methods course. … Your assistance and faith in me helped get me to the finish line. Forever grateful.”

Enough said.

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William Badke is associate librarian at Trinity Western University and the author of Research Strategies: Finding Your Way Through the Information Fog, 7th Edition (, 2021)


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