Obama Proclaims Information Literacy Awareness Month
US President Barack Obama drew attention to the importance of libraries around the world earlier this month when he proclaimed October 2009 National Information Literacy Awareness Month. Information literacy includes the ability to find, evaluate, and use information effectively and ethically. Librarians and library staff play a central role in the development of these skills in their teaching and learning roles which extend beyond providing access to information resources such as books, databases, and journals.
In the official White House Press Release, Obama acknowledges the particular challenges of the Information Age and asserts that we must be able to approach information critically and be skillful with technology because "an informed and educated citizenry is essential to the functioning of our modern democratic society". He highlights the role of libraries and universities in helping people sort through information to "separate truth from fiction and signal from noise".
The American Library Association (ALA) responded enthusiastically to Obama's proclamation. ALA President Camila Alire stated, "In libraries across the country, librarians are helping the public achieve this goal” and encouraged citizens to take advantage of the range of services offered by their local libraries.
McMaster University Library fosters information literacy in a variety of ways. Through course-related and course integrated instruction and research help, librarians and library staff teach students how to conduct their research more effectively using the library’s catalogue, databases, geospatial data, maps and Google. They also help students develop the ability to critically evaluate the quality of that information and to observe academic integrity through correct citation. Liaison Librarians work with faculty in specific subject areas to support students in using the library and conducting research for assignments. In May 2010, McMaster Library will welcome delegates from across Canada and the United States to WILU, the leading Canadian conference on teaching and learning in libraries.