It’s October: Information is in the Air!

The Charger Bulletin

By DIANE SPINATO
UNH Senior Information Literacy Librarian

Ah, October. The days get shorter and the weather gets cooler. Thoughts turn to scary jack-o-lanterns, golden leaves, football games and Information Literacy. Information Literacy! Yes, the month of October, is now National Information Literacy Awareness Month as well as the month in which we celebrate Halloween. On a national level, this is by official proclamation of President Barack Obama. In Connecticut, Governor Dannel P. Molloy has proclaimed October 2012 as Information Literacy Awareness Month. So what does this all mean and why should we care?

A person who is information literate has the following characteristics or skills. First, they realize that they need information. No one person knows everything. There is always something new to find out or learn. Next, an information literate individual realizes that information is available in many different places. There is a huge universe of information outside of Wikipedia and even Google. One gold mine of information often overlooked by students is information published by the United States government. Find this information by looking for websites ending in .gov. Library databases are also a great source of information.

Then, the information literate person realizes that information needs to be evaluated for credibility. When reading information from any source, ask yourself why the author made that information available. What was their purpose in writing it? Learning to identify bias is an important skill when evaluating information. Also ask yourself if the credibility of the author can be determined. Also, what is the date of the information and does it matter?

Finally, information must be used ethically and effectively. If copyrighted information is being used for a paper or project, the information must be accurately cited so that credit is given to the copyright holder of the information. Common citation styles include APA and MLA but there are others as well. So, the next time you read anything, perhaps from a book or information you pull off a website, take a moment to think about what you’re looking at. Ask yourself some questions regarding the authority and credibility of the information before you use it. You just might be surprised by the answers. For more information about Information Literacy, especially if you need assistance finding information for papers or projects contact a UNH librarian by phone at (203) 932-7189 or just stop by the library information desk or attend an informative workshop. Find the workshop schedule here: http://www.newhaven.edu/library/Workshops/