Opportunities and Challenges of Academic Librarians in Teaching Information Literacy in Institutions of Higher Learning in Zimbabwe

Opportunities and Challenges of Academic Librarians in Teaching Information Literacy in Institutions of Higher Learning in Zimbabwe

Josiline Phiri Chigwada (Bindura University of Science Education, Bindura, Zimbabwe)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/IJLIS.2019010103

Abstract

A study was undertaken to analyse the opportunities and challenges that are faced in institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe when offering information literacy. Institutions of higher learning were purposively selected. Open ended questions were sent to 20 librarians and 13 responded. It was discovered that all the institutions of higher learning which participated in the study teach IL to the students and the librarians are responsible. Librarians teach IL to ensure that the students know how to search, evaluate and use information ethically and legally. This was necessitated by the information explosion leading to the availability of various information sources. The role of the librarian is to design the curriculum, teach IL and monitor and evaluate the course as a way of improving it. It was discovered that librarians face some challenges because of the negative attitudes by students and academic staff. The author recommends that librarians should continuously upgrade themselves and library administrators should provide resources needed to offer IL.
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Introduction

Bhimani (2015) states that many students entering college do not know how to locate information due to the endless amount of information that is available mainly on the internet. There have been instances of low usage statistics of electronic resources in academic libraries although the number of enrolled students is increasing. This may have been caused by the rapidly changing information landscape and various ways of searching for information. Learners as a result, face challenges in locating and accessing relevant and appropriate information for academic purposes if they are not taught how to do it. Leong (2015) observed that skills and experience needed to navigate the virtual and physical space appear to be diminishing among novice and advanced researchers. The research was aimed at understanding how academic librarians are utilising the opportunities provided when offering information literacy and how they are dealing with the challenges that they are facing in Zimbabwe.

Why Teach Il?

Leong (2005) and Debowski (2001) state that IL involves not only the development of digital skills but also higher level of analytical and evaluative skills that are needed to engage effectively with the formulations of complex ideas. Lampert (2006) adds that learners are taught IL so that they are able to identify, locate, retrieve, evaluate, and ethically use and document information. Learners would then improve their research skills that are needed in knowing the different types of information sources and understanding the appropriate ways of critically evaluating and managing information. Bhimani (2015) supports the idea by pointing out that IL and digital literacy allow users to utilise technology and learners are able to survive at college, at the work place and throughout life.

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