Information literacy is vital in today’s globally connected society, where the norm is the near-constant ebb and flow of news bites, blogs, and advertisements. When often-conflicting sources of information are available, it is imperative that information users of every sort are able to evaluate statements for their validity before making decisions, big or small, no matter if the objective is researching a political candidate or trying to find a review for the new pizza place down the road. Every day, the library community is bombarded with many options of how to find the information both formal and informal learners require for work or for play, and they must be able to judge for themselves whether or not they are finding the right sources.
Through structured information literacy training, librarian instructors can help students and patrons become proficient in locating the best possible resources on their own. Away from the reference desk and out in the real world, library users are not always going to have a librarian to guide them, and they must be able to interact with information in an educated and purposeful way during these informal learning opportunities. The goal is to find the most valuable information quickly and efficiently, but when flustered or rushed, it can be too easy to revert to a basic internet search that yields only popular sites, not necessarily the most reliable sources. It is the librarian’s responsibility to create familiarity and comfort with search methods that are both user-friendly and useful. By encouraging students and patrons to think critically about information as it is presented to them, librarians can help learners make the best choices for their personal literacy needs throughout their lives.