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Today I read Jeremy Shapiro and Shelley Hughes’ article on Information Literacy as a Liberal Art which can be found here: http://net.educause.edu/apps/er/review/reviewArticles/31231.html

I really enjoyed this article. It asks us as information professionals to look at Information Literacy not just from a technical standpoint. While it argues that there is a need for the technical knowledge of information technology, it also refers to these as just tools. It argues that our society needs to gain a “broad, integrated and critical perspective on the contemporary world of knowledge and information”. They maintain that his knowledge will not only allow users to understand the current technologies, but will help them to grow and understand new technologies as they emerge. Furthermore, it adds that it needs to be an education across the entire society, not for those who are entitled.

I work in a public library and due to the current economic situation there are people who come in all the time needing to use the computers to apply for unemployment or fill out job applications. One of the largest problems that these individuals face is the lack of technical knowledge, or what Shapiro and Hughes call “Tool Literacy”. They do not use computers, they do not have e-mail address, and yet, in order for them to receive the benefits they need in order to survive they must use the internet and create an email address. I sometimes get impatient with these people as I do not understand how they could not know how to create an email address or navigate a web site. I hide behind the excuse that it is not my job to be their teacher. However, after reading this article, I realize while it may not be my job to teach every person how to do this, it may be my responsibility as an information professional to at least try to teach and aide them in the use of some of these tools not just so they can fill out applications, but to create a more information literate society.

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