For social and economic developments in a country there has to be a good information system (IFLA 2003). For an empowered nation all the citizens should have an easy access to information most especially the developing nations. This will make the citizens make decisions easily hence develop the country. Libraries should be well equipped and structured with programs that will enhance information flow amongst the citizens (Chagari 2005). Libraries should therefore be used to transform nations by providing for their information needs.
Information literacy is the process by which information can be extracted from various sources, analyzed and used correctly for decision making. This is the main mission to be achieved in the information age (Australian Library and Information Association 2001). Current information literacy is a necessity in the societies. Opportunities are availed in the modern societies whether cultural or educational requires citizens to be information literate (Drotner 2005). Information literacy will be a motivation factor to many people to acquire knowledge in pursuing their studies through out their lives hence personal empowerment (Chagari 2005).
Fostering citizen Information Literacy According to Chagari (2005), public libraries have played a very important role in fostering information literacy amongst the citizens. Public libraries have actively engaged in giving information based services to citizens that have no access to the required information. All the disadvantaged groups or individuals have been identified and everyone including the sick, disabled, unemployed or low income earners has access to information without discrimination. Public libraries have helped in nurturing information literacy in many ways.
These included through instructing the users. Tutorials have been made to help train the library users on how to access the required information and use it. There are printed materials in many public libraries to guide the users on how to access the required information (Chagari 2005). These handouts enhance learning and usage of such facilities. Librarians can also provide reference materials to the library users. The librarians may identify certain area and show the learners how to carryout a research in that area thereby lessening their work. The areas chosen may be on specific research areas for example;
The users may be showed how to use references available in written materials, how to access online materials using online interactive models. For instance the virtual reference desks connected to internet. Interactive databases can be used to help in decision making. All these methods will enhance learning as a result of improved access to information (Chagari 2005). Public libraries have promoted collaborations amongst various library users and researchers. Through the public library usage, a teacher learner partnership is most likely to be formed.
Librarians have to interact with other researchers based on different fields to get the relevant information about the information they have. Through this collaboration information literacy is enhanced (Chagari 2005). Both governmental and non governmental organizations have partnered to help gather information about a particular problem or issue in the organization. This has also been observed through local associates and writers dealing with literature. Promotions and marketing have been done by the public libraries to create awareness amongst the citizens about information literacy.
This is to ensure that the citizens’ requirements are met. To ensure every citizen is aware of such services, public libraries have used electronic, printed and vocal communication means to create awareness. Internet, newspapers and televisions have been used to help disseminate such information. Information literacy awareness has been popularized in many countries hence an awareness to the citizens (Chagari 2005). There have been posters or bill boards to help distribute materials about information literacy, training programs, talks, exhibitions and meetings.
All these are aimed at creating awareness to the public to encourage citizens to take part in information literacy programs. There has online library sites created to allow for online access of the library information. It may at times require face to face meetings to negotiate on the legal requirements between the local and governmental organizations. Public libraries have made it possible to allow for the arrangement of materials depending on events hence to attract people (Libraries for lifelong Literacy 2004). Revenues have been collected from such services.
The revenue collected can be used in developing the systems to be more efficient to the users (Chagari 2005). Suggestions have been made to help support certain groups for instance the women groups to make them computer literate (Kargbo 2004). Public libraries have suggested for both public and private bodies to support adult trainings on areas such as sanitation, nutrition, health, consumer rights, management of food, water, income amongst others (Chagari 2005). These are areas that require public interests to develop a country hence a way to involve many citizens.
Such training promotes empowerment hence citizenship. Public libraries have come up with the youth training programs. The libraries provide for the youths needs and hence empower them to meet their goals. Information literacy institutions have been established. There have been associations formed between colleges and research libraries to help develop library attendants. This ensures that the librarians can assess well and ensure improvements in the information literacy programmes available (Chagari 2005). Most undergraduate programs have been advanced to include the information literacy programs.
To nurture information literacy amongst citizens, there has to be public libraries in the countries. Through the libraries citizens will get access to information easily and also embrace the new technology of acquiring skills. Government should ensure a global access to information and communication materials or devices (Lough 2002). The only way that societies can ensure active participations in cultural, social, political and economic development is through the digital divide (Bennett 2001). Technology is very fundamental for citizenship in the modern society (BECTA b 2001).
There has been an increased use of technology amongst the societies (Home Office 2001b). Computer usage has been introduced in most homes, schools, offices and hence an increased access to information (Home Office 2001a). Countries have introduced computers in their libraries. This is in order to provide equal access to information and enhance digital information access (Serbia 2004). Digital information access in the public libraries will promote information literacy and at the same time provide an extended learning opportunity to the citizens.
IFLA as the international body that represents the interests of library users and information service providers requires an equal access to information amongst the citizens. According to Serbia (2004), there are policies and rules that have been formed to ensure standards in public libraries. The standards are based on services as follows; purposes and roles, financial and legal structures, customer or user satisfaction, development strategies, attendants’ qualifications and the management and marketing.
All public libraries have to meet quality services based. All public libraries have to have their mission stated somewhere to show the citizens the services they provide. These may include free access to information communication technology to all irrespective of the age to foster and support information literacy. There has been emphasis from governments worldwide on corporate responsibility in developing our nations. A publication has been made on information literacy to promote citizenship empowerment by the UNESCO (Correia 2002).
The document was aimed at assessing the policies that govern literature study and to give a way forward to ensure information literacy programmes are implemented in all countries worldwide. In developing countries there is a lot of information available to the citizens. This mass information requires a lot of management to make more useful to the citizens. Librarians have been trained and employed to aid the public library users in accessing such information efficiently (Qvortrup 2007).
To promote information literacy, citizens are therefore required to have the basic knowledge to find the required information and use it appropriately on their own. Public libraries have transformed societies in many ways. This is because the libraries have broadened their roles in the societies not only to benefit everyone but also to empower citizens through equitable access to information (Konera 2008; Stipanov 2005; Howley 2004). According to Collection Development Policy (2003), for public libraries to foster information literacy for the well being of the citizens there has to high standards of integrity and services adopted.
The librarians should learn how to interact well with the information systems and at the same time how to take good care of the citizens as learners. The librarians should foster intellectual freedom to facilitate information flow and decision making. The librarians should also respect intellectual property hence exercise their power or responsibility on their duty. Clients rights should always be protected giving them access to the required information always. The librarians should be sensitive to the citizens’ requirements or suggestions to ensure all their needs are catered for adequately. Supporting Citizen Information Literacy
Public libraries have supported information literacy in many ways. Public libraries use computer systems to store records of information available in the libraries. According to Chagari (2005), computer and networking devices have facilitated learning during the programs organized for information literacy. Through multimedia materials the learners’ participation was enhanced. Coaxial cables have popularized in many countries hence used in many libraries to reach many users through networking. Networking is very cost effective especially when used to access people that are geographically away from each other.
Through using the coaxial cables both rural and urban residents can be reached. Information access can also be achieved any where provided you are within the network. The training programs can be video taped and telecasted to targeted groups anywhere within the country (Chagari 2005). With both entertainment and educational opportunities provided by the computerized programs citizens can be easily attracted and motivated to acquire the required information. Mass media communication has been used to broadcast the information literacy programs. Radios, televisions and newspapers can be easily accessed by the majority in many countries.
These can be used as tools to sensitize people on the need for information literacy. Librarians have dealt with the context based programs to help them identify the areas of importance to most users for instance political, social, cultural and economic. This was based on the fact that to optimize participation from the citizens their areas of interest must be tackled (Chagari 2005). This encourages citizens to strive for the best in life. The librarians are therefore supposed to ensure every citizen is aware of such services. According to Serbia (2004), communities are different depending with the nation.
The requirements of such communities will be different depending on their cultural and social differences. Structures and systems to be devised in the public libraries will therefore be different (BECTA b 2001). Each public library in each country should therefore have their own vision and mission to state their service objectives. The mission statement will help address the individual needs of the public library users. This will also show the technology to be put in place. Opinion on Public Library Preparedness for fostering and supporting citizen information Literacy
According to UNESCO public library manifesto (1994), public libraries had their mission since 1994 (Forsyth 2005). Amongst their missions was to ensure equal and reliable access to information for all citizens. It follows that public libraries started emphasizing on information literacy from that time. Institutions were formed to facilitate information literacy. Public libraries came up with policies to ensure its services are free of charge and available to every citizen. Public libraries opted for a nation wide network to facilitate researches and information sharing globally (Hancock 2004).
All these were to be funded and hence implemented in all libraries. In this sense, I think public libraries were prepared to ensure equal access to information by citizens. Public libraries have developed programs to help attract, train and develop different members of the societies (Chagari 2005). I think this is a sign of preparedness and they still want to involve more and more. Public libraries have trained their staff to facilitate their ability to train the library users, manage the information in the libraries and collaborate with other people to ensure learning. There is increased level of management in many libraries.
Information access has been enhanced for instance the librarians have arranged the information depending on the events or certain topics and authors for easy access. In my own opinion, public libraries have been well prepared to nurture and support information literacy in societies. This is because other than the traditional information sources, libraries have embarked on technology use allowing the citizens to get access to information from various sources. This ensures increased availability of information to the citizens. Public libraries have availed information in video or disc tapes, portable disks.
Information has also been simulated and recorded to help in demonstrations where human beings are likely to be exposed to high risks (Chagari 2005). According to John (2002), a library should be able to provide the following services to the users or citizens. Similarly, a library is a place to provide the citizens with information, informing and helping them in making decisions (Centre for Citizenship Studies in Education 2002). I think public libraries should therefore keep the citizens up to date with the information about their daily life and provide them with the adaptive features.
Public libraries have provided all these services hence a sign of preparedness to create awareness to promote citizenship. It is my opinion that public libraries have been well prepared to support and promote information literacy amongst citizens. With the advancement of technology this was going to be easily achieved. Public libraries have embraced technology making all citizens computer literate hence bridging the gap between the digital divide. This shows how determined public libraries are to ensure every citizen has access to the required information as a sign of empowerment.
Public Libraries have come up with projects that promote sharing, support and researches through organized meetings, conferences, forming partnerships (John 2002). I think this is in order to facilitate quality training, gather the required information and to reach as many citizens as possible Public libraries have even cooperated with other organizations to lend information materials, purchase jointly or even achieve joint storage facilities hence share the costs. This is a sign of preparedness. The libraries are ready to help citizens acquire the required information at all costs.
According to Bundy (2003), there was a research done in 2002 to help find out the educational requirements of international students. The research was aimed at identifying the difficulties experienced by the students in access information. Information is power and hence acquisition of the right information by every citizen is a sign of empowerment. I think, public libraries therefore wanted to ensure everyone has access to the right information everywhere. In this sense the libraries prepared well to provide for everyone and hence an equal chance to meet their goals as individuals.
I have a strong opinion that public libraries have been well prepared to foster and support information literacy to citizens. Information is a democratic tool and hence can be used to achieve democracy. Information alone may not guarantee democracy one has to struggle to know how to use it well in decision making (Bundy 2003). This calls for information literacy. Public libraries have been on the front line to sensitize all citizens on various issues that affect our societies. Through public libraries various groups in our societies have been trained and informed about cultural, political and economic factors that affect them.
I think public libraries have prepared well for information literacy amongst citizens. Since the emergence of technology, there came a need for information literacy. Public libraries formed institutions like National Forum on Information Literacy (NFIL). Such institutions have been used by many countries to ensure their citizens get access to information or to be information literate (Bruce 2002). NFIL has been used by many countries to solve the library issues to foster information literacy in our institutions (Durrance 2005).
I think that all the countries that participated in NFIL wanted to ensure non-discriminative access to information by all citizens hence empower all to build our nations Conclusion Library Information literacy is a process of getting access to information, retrieving it and manipulating it to be used in decision making. In most countries worldwide citizens are accessed to basic information only. This is not enough to empower the citizens and promote citizenship. There is therefore need to train people on ways of getting easy access to the required information (Bawden et al 2002).
With the advancement in technology Internet and computer use has enhanced the way information can be accessed globally. There are universally used standards to enhance information access (Boaz et al 2000). Through computer use and networking devices information access and reliability has been enhanced. A global reach can be achieved through networking or using the network cable like coaxial (Chagari 2005). There are increases information sources other than the traditional ones. I think this promotes information access, flow and management in the societies. People can even access the library information online anywhere in the world.
This an added advantage to most tourists, researchers and students.
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