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Information science (social aspects), Library science
In recent years, the Republic of Ireland has witnessed a growth in information literacy (IL), with its importance recognised in independent and lifelong learning; there have also been some key developments which have helped to raise the profile of IL and facilitated a more coherent national approach to IL development (O’Brien & Russell, 2012). Despite this progress, there is a lack of an integrated approach for information literacy development and there still exists no unified national strategy for IL, either sectorally or cross-sectorally and IL “has not been recognised as such at the highest political level [in] Ireland” (Webber & McGuinness, 2007).
This paper outlines the development of information literacy in the Republic of Ireland since 2006. The author discusses the work of Library Association of Ireland’s (LAI) Working Group on Information Literacy (WGIL) 2006-2010 which was convened in 2006 to make recommendations to the LAI for the development of a cohesive national strategy for information literacy education and advocacy across all library and information science sectors in Ireland. WGIL provided a review of cross sector information literacy (IL) activity from 2006-2008 and made 10 key recommendations on the advancement of IL in Ireland available in a final report in 2008. The paper will focus on how the work of this group has played a significant role in advancing a policy driven approach for information literacy at national level. The recommendations of WGIL have been furthered by the successor to WGIL – the LAI’s Task Force on Information Literacy (TFIL) which came together in 2011 and is taking steps to implement the recommendations made by WGIL in their final report. TFIL is currently building on the work of WGIL - investigating information literacy best practice and IL activities in the various sectors in Ireland, focusing on practical ways in which IL education can be further developed and advancing the goal of a more integrated IL strategy for Ireland. TFIL has already implemented some of the short term recommendations of the WGIL report and advanced those which are more medium to long term. Much of the work of both WGIL and TFIL has involved ongoing advocacy initiatives, promotion and dissemination of information, which have proved vital to raising awareness of the strategic value of information literacy nationally. These strategies will be discussed in the paper, in addition to some of the difficulties and practicalities of the cross-sectoral approach. Suggestions for further research and development and a vision for information literacy in Ireland will also be outlined. The overall aim is to create a national framework for information literacy for Ireland that would ensure a more coherent approach and promote the development of IL in education, the workplace and wider society.
O’Brien, T. & Russell P. (2012). The Irish Working Group on Information Literacy: Edging towards a national policy. International Information and Library Review, Volume 44, Issue No. 1.
Webber, S. & McGuinness, C. (2007). “UK and Ireland.” In Lau, J. (Ed.) Information Literacy: An International State-of-the-Art Report, (pp.121-133). IFLA & UNESCO, 2007. Retrieved January 30th, 2013 from http://www.infolitglobal.info/docs/UNESCO_IL_state_of_the_art_report_-_Draft070803.doc?PHPSESSID=ad4b7d1a86fcd4b222c24ef12047b5b7
Russell P. and Cavanagh J. (2013) ‘The Irish Information Literacy Project: the Gradual Building of a National Policy for Information Literacy. Paper presented at first European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL), Istanbul, Turkey, October 23rd 2013.