Information Literacy in the Workplace

Forster, Marc ORCID: and Goldstein, Stephane (2018) Information Literacy in the Workplace. In: LILAC (Librarians' Annual Information Literacy Conference), 4-6 April 2018, Liverpool.

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The session will take a broad overview of Information Literacy in the workplace, especially its unique characteristics and the challenges it poses for researchers and information professionals.

IL evolved 'academically’. The locus of information retrieval was the 'library', and the dynamics of IL were thought to involve the use and application of the 'academic' literature with its value and significance based on academic citation. Research in the academic sense - solving abstract questions and problems– was also kept well in mind in the early attempts to map the scope and meaning of IL.

What are the parameters of IL outside the academic sphere? As the focus of interest in IL spreads from the university out into the world of work, can librarians and theoreticians be confident that they can continue to apply existing understandings and definitions? There has been a comparatively small but influential body of research into workplace IL. That research has shown how unexpected and dislocating workplace IL is in the context of the academic perspective. Examples include studies that have looked at the personal experiences of information literate employees: Lloyd (2005; 2009) (Firefighters; ambulance drivers); Forster (2015) (Nurses); Sayyad Abdi, Partridge, and Bruce (2016) (web designers), often with the awareness of that dislocation and the intention of improving resources and Information Literacy education for professionals and students of the professions.

What is workplace IL? Studies such as Lloyd (2005) and Forster (2015) suggest that information might be unrecognisable from an academic perspective, even non-documentary or non-verbal. Information use is not only task oriented but pervasive and universal. Information is used in many different contexts: not only to better complete a work task or project but to learn as an individual, to establish relationships with colleagues, customers and clients, to operate as part of a team, and as part of a leadership and teaching role. Crucially, the deployment and use of information underpins drives to meet organisational objectives and achieve competitive advantage.

The workplace thrives on, and is dependent on, knowledge. Information is sought to plug knowledge gaps in organisational, strategic, project developmental and day to day contexts. Workplace IL can depend on networking and informal communication, physical demonstration and conversation.
Workplace IL is fundamental to effectiveness in the constantly evolving workplace environment. As the nature of the workplace diversifies away from physical spaces to more virtual ones (Sayyad Abdi, Partridge, and Bruce, 2016) and from fixed procedure to knowledge-accumulating evolutionary development, the Information Literate worker is likely to be the most valuable and effective. How can IL in the workplace be developed? How can IL help address the challenges of the rapidly changing nature of work, characterised by atomisation, precarity and the evolution of the gig economy? What future research and what educational interventions based on that research, can be developed and applied?

Forster, M. (2015) An investigation into Information Literacy in nursing practice - how is it experienced, what are its parameters, and how can it be developed? Doctoral thesis, University of West London.
Lloyd, A. (2005) Information literacy: Different contexts, different concepts, different truths? Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 37(2), pp.82-88
Lloyd, A. (2009) Informing practice: information experiences of ambulance officers in training and on-road practice. Journal of Documentation, 65(3), pp.396-419.
Sayyad Abdi, E., Partridge, H. and Bruce, C. (2016) Web Designers and Developers Experiences of Information Literacy: a phenomenographic study, Library & Information Science Research, 38 (4), pp.353–9.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Subjects: Library and information sciences
Depositing User: Marc Forster
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2018 11:55
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:25


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