Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Information Behaviors and Information Literacy Skills of LIS Students: An International Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Information Behaviors and Information Literacy Skills of LIS Students: An International Perspective

Article excerpt

Librarians are expected to be expert searchers of all kinds of information in all formats. Developing the knowledge and skills to navigate the vast world of online and print information is typically a focus of most library and information science (LIS) programs. Understanding information literacy levels and how students approach information seeking tasks can inform curricular decisions. As Chung and Neuman note, "because learning is the primary goal of students' information seeking and use, how students' information seeking and use contributes to learning should be studied in various contexts . . . [and] with different learning tasks" (2007, p. 1516). Thus it is important to understand the information literacy and behaviors of LIS students as a group to see if they are employing the skills they will need to assist and educate their future patrons.

On the other hand, it is not advisable to study LIS students as though they are a homogenous group, thereby ignoring possible differences of library and information science curricula as well as culture on information behaviors. In a systematic review of the literature on informationseeking behaviors of graduate students, Catalano (2013) noted some cultural differences in the information-seeking behaviors of international students studying in the United States. As the economy becomes increasingly globalized and as more librarians and library students choose to go abroad to study or work, it will be useful for librarians and LIS faculty to recognize these differences.

While there is a rich literature on information literacy and behaviors in general, there is relatively little research into the information literacy and behaviors of librarians and library students. Further, while some studies have focused on specific geographic areas, including Uganda (OkelloObura & Ikoja-Odongo, 2010), Greece (Korobili, Malliari, & Zapounidou, 2011), and Ireland (O'Farrell & Bates, 2009), there are no studies that compare information literacy and behaviors of LIS students across different countries. Through a survey of the information literacy skills and information problem-solving habits of LIS students in 18 countries, the authors of this study begin to address this gap in the literature. The study investigates how LIS students search for, evaluate, and use information in various contexts, and on whom they rely for help.

The results of this study demonstrate the current state of library science students' information literacy skills and information problem-solving habits within an international context. Faculty in LIS programs will be interested to see how their students approach information problems especially as they teach greater numbers of international students or consider collaborating with international colleagues. Librarians might be interested to see how current library students in various countries approach information tasks, and how well they are being prepared to serve as intermediaries and instructors in a complex information environment. In addition, an international understanding is important for students and professionals to compete in a global job market.

Literature Review

The body of literature on information literacy and behaviors is extensive and will not be reviewed at length here. Theories of Information Behavior, edited by Fisher, Erdelez, and McKechnie (2005), offers over 70 chapters, each outlining a theory, model, or conceptual framework related to information-seeking and information behaviors, such as Kuhlthau's Information Search Process (ISP) model of affective behaviors of information seeking, Dervin's theory of Sense-Making, and Bates' berrypicking model. The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project has issued a number of reports that probe the online searching behaviors of the American adult population, showing that the vast majority of American adults use the Internet to search for information, and that they are generally confident in their search skills and happy with the results they get (see, e. …

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