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Lecturer’s goal: bridge the info gap

Preventing libraries from becoming book museums is just one of the challenges that inspired Patricia Iannuzzi, author and library director, into the field of information literacy. Iannuzzi will speak to USF students, librarians and faculty today.

Iannuzzi, director for the Doe and Moffitt Libraries at the University of California- Berkeley and the author of Teaching Information Literacy Skills, will give a presentation on information literacy in the Grace Allen Room at 2:30 p.m. today.

Information literacy is defined by the American Library Association as the ability to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate and use effectively the required information. Drew Smith, instructor at the USF School of Library and Information Science, said students are not always challenged to seek alternative sources of information.

“It’s often not the fault of the faculty but there are some classes that don’t require the students to do any more than look in their course books,” Smith said.

Smith said acquiring information literacy skills is as important for students as it is for faculty and university administrators.

“It is critical that students learn that they have to seek out a wide variety of sources of information. There is too much dependency on the Internet for information. Students should place more trust in information found in libraries. Much of the information on the Internet has not been evaluated,” Smith said.

Information literacy is now taught as a class at Florida International University where the faculty has tabled a motion that information literacy should be mandatory for all undergraduates.

“Many schools are struggling with whether information literacy should be part of the curriculum,” Smith said. “It’s becoming more important for universities – many accreditation standards now state that students should be information literate.”

Speaking after winning the Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian Award, Iannuzzi said she is concerned that the rise of information technology and subsequent marginalization of academic libraries will have a detrimental effect on society.

“We cannot afford to have our next generation of leaders, lawmakers, health care professionals, teachers, business people – and even parents – succumb to what I recently heard described as ‘intellectual laziness’ – to develop a fast food mentality to information with utter disregard of the impact – making less than informed decisions based upon the expediency of sound bites and Google hits,” Iannuzzi said.