November 4th, 2006 03:18 EST
Children never too young to start learning how to access, use information
Washington -- Given the glut of information available on the Internet today, much of it false or erroneous, information literacy is critical for all, according to Dennis C. Tucker, an information expert who participated in a State Department-hosted webchat November 2.
Information literacy is the ability to use information properly, said Tucker, a librarian. The information-literate person knows where to find what is needed, knows how to validate the information and its source, and knows how to use and cite the information correctly, he added.
As for the proper age to start learning these skills, “It’s almost never too young to start,” Tucker said.
He also believes in teaching from an early age respect for intellectual property. Children “need to be learning at an early age that just because the information is there doesn’t mean that it belongs to them and that they can use it however they please.”
And as children grow, “we need to re-teach these skills every year,” Tucker said, especially at the university level as the focus of education shifts more toward independent research.
Information literacy is not a skill people naturally possess, and so educators and librarians have a major role to play in its acquisition, asserted Tucker, whose professional experience includes service in school, public and academic libraries in positions ranging from serials librarian and reference librarian to director.
He expects information literacy eventually to become a requirement for graduation from secondary school in his home state of California and other states.
“In the past, people came into the library and used resources that had already been carefully selected by trained professional librarians and faculty members,” he said. “And the librarian was always there to help them. That's just not today's world. Today, people may hop onto a search engine at 2 a.m. with no help available and pull up who-knows-what posted by who-knows-whom.”
Tucker is a library consultant with his own company, Tucker and Associates, in Modesto, California.
A transcript of Tucker’s discussion and information on upcoming webchats are available on USINFO's Webchat Station.
For more information, see Education.