Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." 1 Information literacy also is increasingly important in the contemporary environment of rapid technological change and proliferating information resources. Because of the escalating complexity of this environment, individuals are faced with diverse, abundant information choices--in their academic studies, in the workplace, and in their personal lives. Information is available through libraries, community resources, special interest organizations, media, and the Internet--and increasingly, information comes to individuals in unfiltered formats, raising questions about its authenticity, validity, and reliability. In addition, information is available through multiple media, including graphical, aural, and textual, and these pose new challenges for individuals in evaluating and understanding it. The uncertain quality and expanding quantity of information pose large challenges for society. The sheer abundance of information will not in itself create a more informed citizenry without a complementary cluster of abilities necessary to use information effectively.
Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. An information literate individual is able to:
For academic success:
In service learning:
For Lifelong learning:
to the campus culture:
in the workplace:
Project Information Literacy (PIL) is a large-scale, national study about early adults and their research habits, conducted in partnership with the University of Washington's iSchool.
Recent reports and publications from Project Information Literacy (PIL). All materials produced by PIL are open access and may be re-used for non-commercial uses without PIL's permission. We ask that PIL and report be appropriately cited when re-used.
"Staying Smart: How Today's Graduates Continue to Learn Once They Complete College," Alison J. Head, Project Information Literacy Research Report, January 5, 2016. (Two different versions available: Full report with appendices, 112 pages, 6.9 MB or report without the appendices, 71 pages, 6.5 MB ).
"Phase Two: Trends from the Online Survey," Alison J. Head, Project Information Literacy Progress Report for the Lifelong Learning Study, October 5, 2015 (version 2, updated and finalized), 10 pages, 218KB PDF.
"Phase One: Trends from the Lifelong Learning Interviews with Recent Graduates," Alison J. Head, Project Information Literacy Progress Report for the Lifelong Learning Study, July 29, 2014, 6 pages, 130KB PDF.
"Learning the Ropes: How Freshmen Conduct Course Research Once They Enter College," Alison J. Head, Project Information Literacy Research Report, December 4, 2013. (Two different versions available: Text with appendices, 48 pages, 6.2 MB or text without appendices, 35 pages, 5.8MB).
"Learning Curve: How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once They Join the Workplace," Alison J. Head, Project Information Literacy Research Report, October 15, 2012. (Two different versions available: Text with appendix, 38 pages, 5.8 MB or text without the appendix, 29 pages, 5.7MB).
"Balancing Act: How College Students Manage Technology While in the Library during Crunch Time," Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg, Project Information Literacy Research Report, University of Washington's Information School, October 12, 2011 (Two different versions available: Text with appendices: 72 pages, PDF, 6.1MB version or Text without appendices: 54 pages, PDF, 6MB).
"Truth Be Told: How College Students Evaluate and Use Information in the Digital Age," Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg, Project Information Literacy Progress Report, University of Washington's Information School, November 1, 2010. (Two different versions available: Text with appendices: 72 pages, PDF, 5.8MB version or Text without appendices: 41 pages, PDF, 5.49MB).
"Assigning Inquiry: How Handouts for Research Assignments Guide Today's College Students," Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg, Project Information Literacy Progress Report, University of Washington's Information School, July 13, 2010 (41 pages, PDF, 2.14MB).
"Lessons Learned: How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age," Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg, Project Information Literacy First Year Report with Student Survey Findings, University of Washington's Information School, December 1, 2009 (42 pages, PDF, 3MB).
"Finding Context: What Today's College Student Say about Conducting Research in the Digital Age," Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg, Project Information Literacy Progress Report, University of Washington's Information School, February 4, 2009 (18 pages, PDF, 864 KB).
"Lifelong Learning in the Digital Age: A Content Analysis of Recent Research on Participation," Alison J. Head, Michele Van Hoeck, and Deborah S. Garson, First Monday, February 2, 2015, Volume 20, Number 2 (33 pages).
"What Information Competencies Matter in Today's Workplace?" Alison J. Head, Michele Van Hoeck, Jordan Eschler, and Sean Fullerton, Library and Information Research, May 2013, vol. 37, no. 114, 75 - 104 (29 pages).
"How College Students Use the Web to Conduct Everyday Life Research," Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg, First Monday, April 2011, vol. 16, no. 4 (23 pages).
"How Today's College Students Use Wikipedia for Course-Related Research," Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg, First Monday, March 2010, Volume 15, Number 3 (16 pages).
"Information Literacy from the Trenches: How Do Humanities and Social Science Majors Conduct Academic Research?" Preprint publication, Alison J. Head, College and Research Libraries, September 2008, vol. 69, no. 4 (39 pages).
"Beyond Google: How Do Students Conduct Academic Research?"Alison J. Head, First Monday, July 2007, vol. 12, no. 7 (11 pages).
"Project Information Literacy: What Can Be Learned about the Information-Seeking Behavior of Today's College Students?" Alison J. Head, Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Proceedings 2013, Chicago: ALA, 2013.
Project Information Literacy (PIL) has conducted six studies since 2008 to investigate what it is like to be a college student in the digital age. Survey and interview data has been collected from more than 11,000 US college students to investigate how they find, evaluate, and use information for their course work and for addressing issues that arise in their everyday lives.
This paper highlights findings from these studies. Findings from the six studies suggest these students use strategies driven by efficiency and predictability in order to manage and control the vast amount of information that is available to them. PIL's typology is reviewed about the four information contexts undergraduates seek during their research processes.
"At Sea in a Deluge of Data," Alison J. Head and John Wihbey, The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 10, 2014 (4 pages).
"Old-School Job Skills You Won't Find on Google," Alison J. Head, The Seattle Times, December 8, 2012 (2 pages).
"College Students Eager to Learn but Need Help Negotiating Information Overload," Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg, The Seattle Times, June 3, 2011 (2 pages).
"Add 'Research' to the Education's Traditional Three Rs," Michael B. Eisenberg and Alison J. Head, Seattle Times, Guest Column, May 2, 2009 (1 page).
"What's Next for Project Information Literacy: Interview with Alison Head," Steven Bell, From the Bell Tower, Library Journal, December 4, 2013.
"The New Knowledge Worker." A Radio Berkman podcast interview at Harvard's Berkman Center with David Weinberger about PIL's 2012 study and how recent college graduates solve information problems in the workplace, March 14, 2013 (18:51 minutes).
"Research Chat: Information Scientist Alison Head on Student Habits," John Wihbey, Journalist's Resource: A Research Portal and Curated Database, January 26, 2012 (164K).
"Searching for Context: Modeling the Information-Seeking Process of College Students in the Digital Age." A webcast with Alison Head, who is a Berkman Center & Library Innovation Lab Fellow and Lead Research for Project Information Literacy. A contextual model of how students search for course-related and everyday life information is presented, plus four take-aways from PIL's ongoing research are discussed, January 10, 2012 (1:15 mins.).
"Alison Head on What Students Do in Libraries." A Radio Berkman podcast interview at Harvard's Berkman Center with David Weinberger about PIL's 2011 study and how recent college graduates use libraries and technology in academic libraries during crunch time (two weeks before final exams). December 11, 2011 (26:28 minutes).
"Michael Eisenberg: How Students Manage Technology and Multitasking." A Webcast by Michael Eisenberg, who discusses Project Information Literacy findings and what we can learn from the ongoing study of college students, including discussion of PIL's study about how students manage technology during the final weeks of the term. Presented at the University of British Columbia's Irving K. Barber Centre and hosted by the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies and the School Library Day Colloquium on Nov. 2, 2011 (1 hour, 23 mins.).
"Information Literacy: The Most Basics of Basics." A webcast by Michael Eisenberg. A comprehensive overview of essential skills for the information age, current information literacy challenges, and opportunities for educators. Presented at the first Your School Library online conference, "Transforming School Libraries with Web 2.0," June 2009 (34 mins.).
"Information Literacy and Recent Graduates: New from PIL," Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Education, January 7, 2016.
"For Tech Careers, It's Not About What You Studied, It's About What You Learned," John Mello, Monster.com Tech Section, June 11, 2015.
"A New Report from Project Information Literacy," Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Education, February 25, 2015.
"What PIL Teaches Us about Lifelong Learning," Barbara Fister, Library Journal, August 7, 2014.
"Project Info Lit and the 'Ginormous' Problem," Karen Schneider, Free Range Librarian, December 16, 2013.
"Research Brief: Next Generation Information-Seeking Behaviors," Academy of Program/Project and Engineering Leadership (APPEL), NASA, July 3, 2013.
"Studying the Studies: The Big Four," Steven Bell, Library Journal, May 15, 2013.
"Can the Digital Generation Do Anything Right?" Jason Tomassini, Education Week, November 12, 2012.
"Search People, Not the Internet," Justin Reich, EdTech Researcher, Education Week, November 12, 2012.
"Thrown a Curve: Our Anti-Social Graduates at Work," Barbara Fister, Peer to Peer Review, Library Journal, October 18, 2012.
"Project Information Literacy: Inventing the Workplace," Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Education, October 15, 2012.
"Before Technology, the Power of Asking Questions," Justin Reich, EdTech Researcher, Education Week, October 11, 2012.
"Digital Scholarship Allows the Media to Magnify the Power and Reach of Academic Research," John Wihby, London School of Economics and Political Science blog post, April 5, 2012.
"Study of the Day: Yes, Students Know When to Put the Tech Away," Hans Villarica, The Atlantic, October 21, 2011.
"More College Kids Stumped on Research Papers," Rachel Solomon, NPR Seattle affiliate KPLU, March 23, 2011.
"Course Assignments Fail to Train Undergraduates for Research in the Digital Age," Education-Portal.com, August 6, 2010.
"Information literacy: A Call to Action," Sharon Weiner, College and Research Library News, July/August 2010.
"Research Assignment Handouts Give Students Meager Guidance," Kelly Truong, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 27, 2010.
"Assignments: Being Clear about What Matters," Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Ed, July 22, 2010.
"Students Use Wikipedia Early and Often, Study Shows," Mary Helen Miller, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 16, 2010.
"Professor Michael Eisenberg Talks Critical Thinking Today," HowDo.Us Interview with Mike Eisenberg, Co-Director and Co-PI of Project Information Literacy, Professor and Dean Emeritus, University of Washington Information School, March 2010.
"Information Literacy: A Neglected Core Competency," Sharon A. Weiner, Educause Quarterly, Vol. 33, Number 1, 2010. (The text of this article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 license.)