Opportunities and Challenges of Academic Librarians in Offering Information Literacy Skills Training to Freshmen

Opportunities and Challenges of Academic Librarians in Offering Information Literacy Skills Training to Freshmen

Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8942-7.ch007
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The ‘catch them young' concept is a good foundation for developing lifelong learning skills that can be used beyond tertiary education. This is one of the ways of ‘making the book pay' in helping to create an informed society that would take part in the implementation of the Africa we want through the Africa Agenda 2063. A survey was undertaken on how libraries are supporting information literacy and research skills of students for a successful transition from primary and secondary to higher education. Twenty school libraries and 15 academic libraries were purposively selected to participate in the study. Telephone interviews were done with school, teachers, and academic librarians to understand the opportunities and challenges that they are encountering in imparting information literacy and research skills to students in preparing them for higher education in the digital era. The results revealed that there are information literacy programs in schools and universities and the modules are delivered by librarians.
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Information literacy training had been instrumental in instilling lifelong learning skills amongst people so as to become independent learners who are able to access, use, and evaluate all the information sources (Mackey & Ho, 2005; Pinto & Sales, 2007). People who are information literate are able to use the information ethically and ethically. This led to the development of the catch them young concept where people are taught to be information literate from a young age so that they can carry it and use it for their whole life. As a result, an informed society would help in the implementation of the sustainable development goals leading to the achievement of the world we want by 2030. Due to the ever changing technologies, learners are supposed to access authentic information and they should be able to search and use that information from a tender age.

Students are now expected to know how to use digital gadgets such as computers and smart phones to access information (Pinto,2008). The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the introduction of online teaching and learning to ensure that students are not left behind so as to complete the syllabuses on the stipulated times (Chigwada, 2021). Therefore, to be able to do research using the internet, students should be information literate and should also possess the research skills necessary to navigate the overloaded information environment. This shows why it is important to support students from early childhood development through to primary and secondary school so that they are able to make a smooth transition to higher education. It was noted that information literacy training is prevalent in academic institutions in Zimbabwe where librarians are training students on how to access and use various information resources (Kagwiro, 2017). It is against this background that a study was done to understand how the librarians are assisting learners in primary and secondary schools in preparing them for higher education. The study sought to achieve the following objectives:

  • 1.

    Analyse the state of information literacy skills training programs in primary and secondary schools in Zimbabwe.

  • 2.

    Determine the role of school librarians in offering information literacy skills training programs.

  • 3.

    Assess how academic librarians are assisting primary and secondary school libraries in delivering information literacy skills training programs.

  • 4.

    Ascertain the opportunities and challenges that are faced by the school libraries in Zimbabwe in offering information literacy skills training programs.


What Is Information Literacy?

There are many definitions that were provided by various authors concerning information literacy (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2000; American Library Association, 1989). The American Library Association (1989) defines information literacy as the ability to locate, access, search, evaluate and use information in various contexts legally and ethically. This was necessitated by the advent of information communication technologies leading to information overload. Therefore, learners should possess these information literacy skills to be able to navigate the digital world. There is need for identifying relevant and reliable information when doing research to ensure that learners are able to answer their research and information needs. This calls for the embedding of information literacy skills training from the early child development stage to ensure that the learners grasp the concept while young. This is important since information literacy is a lifelong learning skill that can be used beyond primary, secondary, or tertiary education since it instil independent learning skills among the learners (Hosein, 2006).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mentorship Program: A structured programme which requires strategic planning and organisation to connect people, increase knowledge and build skills for future goals and milestones.

Academic Librarian: A person responsible for managing, organising, evaluating, and disseminating information to students and lecturers at institutions of higher learning.

School Librarian: A person who is responsible for organising and managing collections of journals, books, magazines, newspapers, electronic documents, and other resources in a school library.

Critical Thinking Skills: These are competencies of actively and skilfully conceptualising, applying, analysing, synthesising and evaluating information gathered from or generated by observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication as a guide to belief and action.

Information Literacy: A set of abilities requiring individuals to recognise when information is needed and the access and use that information legally and ethically.

Teacher Librarian: They support and implement the vision of the school communities through advocating and building effective library and information services.

Problem-Solving Skills: Ability to define a problem, determine the cause of the problem, and identifying, prioritising, and selecting alternatives for a solution.

Early Childhood Development: A period from birth to eight years old where the development of the brain is at its peak.

Lifelong Learning Skills: The ability to learn throughout life with the aim of improving knowledge, skills, and competencies within a personal, civic, social and employment related perspectives.

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