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College 101: The Information Spectrum

Information Literacy and the Information Spectrum

Information Literacy

Developing information literacy is an important part of a college education because it plays a role in helping people become informed global citizens. The Association of College Research Libraries defines information literacy as "...the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning."

What information literacy offers is new ways of thinking about information and new information sources to consider. The process of developing such literacy may start with becoming acquainted with you campus library's resources and thinking about what you need to do research on. Information literacy is about:

  • Understanding what kinds of knowledge matter for different disciplines and topics. 
  • Critically identifying and evaluating appropriate sources and information. 
  • Practicing search strategies to locate and access the many different kinds of library resources.  

A Spectrum of Information

The graphic below talks about various kinds of information sources and the various places we can find these information sources. 


Information to the left of the dotted line:

The information to the left of the dotted line is information found on the Internet, which includes Wikipedia, online news sources and broadcast media. This information is produced quickly; sometimes daily, hourly, or second to second. 

Information to the right of the dotted line:

The information to the right of the dotted line includes information in electronic formats (found online) or in print formats. These types of information include books, scholarly journals, encyclopedia articles, and raw data. These information types can take up to months or years to produce. They cannot always be found on the free web (like in a Google search), but can be found through the library