Johanna Rivano Eckerdal | Lund University, Schweden
This video is part of the session »Views on and the shape of information literacy« in the conference on »Information Literacy and Democracy« 19th and 20thJune 2020.
The live session takes places on June 19th at 03.00 p.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST). If you want to join the live session, please send us an e-mail to infodem (at) uni-hildesheim.de.
You are cordially invited to discuss here. In this way, it is possible to provide feedback and pose statements and questions even before the live event.
Possible areas for discussion can be:
- What is your opinion about the topic?
- What are your thoughts on the view of democracy and the understanding of information literacy (liberal and radical)?
- What can be done to promote information literacy?
- What are your questions, and what other aspects are important to you?
First of all, I want to thank you for the interesting presentation about views on and the shape of information literacy. Because of the course I am currently participating, I already knew some things about information literacy. But I have to say, that your presentation helped me a lot to understand the concept better. It became clear that learning needs to be understood as rational and situated and that it is often a way to describe certain aspects of these practices. Furthermore, I never thought about the fact that the description of who is doing the evaluation and especially what norms are guided are often missing. This is a very interesting point, because as well as you explained, that the understating of a purpose of an interaction is also important. I am wondering what kind of hegemonic practices are and how are they included in information literacy?
Hello Mrs. Johanna Rivano Eckerdal,
Thank you very much for this great and informative insight about “Views on and the shape of information literacy”.
First of all, I would like to note that I see the point that individuals are judged as being literate or not in situation when information literacy plays a role. “Learning should be understood as relational and situated”: I like to point out this quote, because it is very essential to see that people should not be judged in this way because of information literacy.
To add the aspect that information literacy is always a value-laden description is really important. I would agree to the fact that it is not possible to have a non-judgmental version of information literacy.
The question how the shaping of information literacy is related to views on democracy is also discussed so the aspect of democracy is also an important factor. Democracy here is seen radically as the constant struggle for the equal rights of as many people as possible. I also think that democracy is in danger and that we should try to perceive it and thus defend it.
Dear Ms. Rivano Eckerdal,
Thank you for this very interesting talk about the “views on and the shape of information literacy”. Your presentation helped me gain a better knowledge of the different understandings of democracy.
I strongly agree with one of the first quotes, that “we can only become aware of the wide range of literacies that are available […] if we do not favor any specific literacies.” As you mention later on in the radical understanding of democracy and citizenship, dialogues and debates enable to express different understandings of information. Undoubtedly, these are important forms to discuss. Libraries play an important role in giving a broad range of information sources. For instance, the city library of Hildesheim is giving a great overview of different current topics from all points of views. Especially in times like today, e.g. Coronavirus and the Black Lives Matter Movement, it is important to gain a broad understanding of the topics and to not only trust one specific view.
You made a great choice of examples, which I would like to hear more about in a discussion after your presentation on Friday.
Dear Mrs. Eckerdal,
I would like to thank you for your very interesting presentation about the topic “Views on and the shape of information literacy”. This topic is very important to discuss and to talk about. You gave me a good overview of the views of democracy and the understanding of information literacy in connection to a liberal and radical context. I think that the aspect of the problem when using information literacy for judging individuals for either being literate or not is very important to talk about. Also in my opinion the aspect, of how the shaping of information literacy is related to the different views on democracy is very interesting. I am looking forward to talk about this topic in the conference and in the live session.
Dear Mrs. Eckerdal,
thank you for your presentation on the different perspectives on information literacy, you addressed a very important but complex topic. This was also evident in the ensuing discussion, in which various definitions and perspectives on democracy and IL were exchanged. IL in relation to democracy has to be looked at from different angles, for example liberal, agonistic etc. In particular, it became clear what role libraries play in supporting the process of democracy. Libraries should have a neutral view of democracy and should also communicate this neutral view to users. Thus, libraries are places where users can acquire IL by understanding the origin and distribution of information and being aware that the evaluation of information is subjective.
At this point I would like to refer to the article “Information Literacy for an Active and Effective Citizenship” by Ana Maria Ramalho Correia, which emphasizes the importance of citizenship in relation to democracy. In order for citizens to be able to actively participate in the process of democracy, the state must ensure that citizens obtain IL through public and civil society institutions such as libraries. The author gives examples of projects and necessary steps to form an information literate society but also points out problems for this process.
In addition, the website of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) in generally is very interesting, since as an association it represents the interests of libraries and information institutions. In the article (see below) the role of libraries in strengthening democracy is highlighted, which is very informative.
Correia, A. (2002): Information literacy for an active and effective citizenship. White Paper prepared for UNESCO, the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, and the National Forum on Information Literacy, for use at the Information Literacy Meeting of Experts, Prague, The Czech Republic.
Homepage of the IFLA, especially this article: https://www.ifla.org/files/assets/hq/topics/libraries-development/documents/libraries_access_to_information_and_democracy.pdf
Dear Mrs. Eckerdal,
thank you for your presentation about the connection between information literacy and democracy. It really highlighted the importance of understanding this connection and how especcially educational settings play a significant role in this matter.
In a liberal understanding of democracy and citizenship the citizen keeps himself/herself informed about his/her rights and obligations. The state provides citizens with training and education on how to search and evaluate information in a way that follows laws and regulations. Whereas in a radical understanding the democracy is viewed as a process, where there are heterogenous communities with varying access to resources. In the latter understanding it is important to engage in dialogue with each other so that a plattform for expressing different understanding of information is given.
In order to reach this radical understanding of information literacy it was made clear that educational institutions need to teach students to engage in a broad range of information sources from different authors.
Later on in the live discussion the part that libraries play in working towards a radical understanding in a democracy was emphasized. Librarians should work in favor of democracy and not be neutral. Because libraries are important for people to access information and provide it for them to form their own opinion in a democracy, librarians should give everyone the possibility for information access. This can be done through having dialogues with users and offering a diversity of literature in different languages.
During the discussion the question came up about what happens to people who do not see libraries. I also wonder whether in this time not only libraries are important for information access or if the focus should shift to the online world as well.
Other authors such as Nikolai Malyarov and Peter Johan Lor have dealt with this issue, too.
Malyarov illustrates the dynamic process of democracy and shows how public libraries can have a significant impact on the younger generation in sustaining a democracy in the future.
Lor engages in an interesting discussion of the post-truth phenomen and suggests implications for libraries which also include revising the own understanding of information literacy and democracy and having dialogues with not only users but different groups such as educators, journalists and media.
Lor, Peter Johan (2018): Democracy, information, and libraries in a time of post-truth discourse. In: Library Management. Vol. 39, No. 5, pp. 307-321.
Malyarov, Nikolai (2019): Public libraries have an important role in sustaining democracy. In: Libraries. Online available: https://blog.pressreader.com/public-libraries-have-an-important-role-in-sustaining-democracy (26.06.2020).
Dear Mrs. Eckerdal,
thank you very much for your presentation, which once again made clear to me how complex and subjective the perception of information literacy is and what influence the relationship between democracy, libraries and citizenship has. In this regard, I agree that it is important to always keep the objectives and foundations in mind when evaluating information literacy, because the dimensions of information literacy are always value laden and influenced by factors such as the democratic understanding. I also see the importance of the functions and activities of libraries for democracy, as they promote critical scrutiny of information.
In this context, the paper by Buschman (2019) is interesting, in which the definitions, roots and challenges of fake news in Library and Information Science (LIS) literature are examined, placed in relation to democracy and linked to LIS practices. He argues that democracy does not require the cleansing of distorted assertions, but rather spaces in which the discussion of fake news is called for. In this context, libraries as educational institutions are an enrichment of civil society and represent true information, but they should expect backlashes in their efforts and be prepared to engage at the next level. The LIS therefore takes a proactive attitude towards fake news. Furthermore, good information would not at the same time mean a better democracy. Rather, the physical and virtual services are decisive signals.
Stillwell (2018) also lists in her paper different perspectives on the relationship between democracy and information. She starts from the beginnings of public libraries and shows, using the example of South Africa and France, that there can nevertheless be difficulties with regard to the access to information by libraries as a currency of democracy, such as social and political inequalities. She also emphasizes that public libraries have an essential contribution to make to the renewal of a democratic sphere.
Two sources which deepen the connection between information and democracy and make reference to fake news. At the same time, I was interested in the examples given by Stillwell (2018), as they further illustrate the influence that different factors can have on information as a currency of democracy.
Buschman, J. (2019), “Good news, bad news, and fake news: Going beyond political literacy to democracy and libraries”, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 75 No. 1, pp. 213-228.
Stilwell, C. (2018), “Information as currency, democracy, and public libraries”, Library Management, Vol. 39 No. 5, pp. 295-306.
Dear Mrs. Eckerdal,
First of all, I would like to thank you for this important and informative presentation. This presentation shows how important Information Literacy and its connection to democracy is. Information Literacy is a big part of everyone’s daily life. If we think about it whenever any kind of learning takes place, we are speaking of Information Literacy. In the development of IL educational settings/institutions play an important role. In addition to this topic the distinction between liberal and radical understanding of democracy and citizenship was new to me. The liberal understanding means that education on IL is provided by the state and the citizens are therefore keeping themselves informed. Contrary the radical understanding of democracy and citizenship describes a process in which citizens learn by having dialogues and debates. This is the point in which the educational settings come to play. It is important that they provide the means to teach student to engage in a wide range of sources to build their own opinion. An important educational institution is the library which was also the focus of the live session. Libraries are one of the most important sources for information. Because they are not neutral to begin with, they should be used in support of democracy.
While researching this topic found the article “Information literacy and the role of public libraries” by Anette Skov discusses the significance of public libraries. She concludes that public libraries, as well as all libraries, are concerned wit IL and are part of lifelong learning of the citizens. Public libraries have “a major part to play, if it decides not only to provide readymade answers and access to resources, but takes on an educational role being actively involved in the knowledge construction processes of its target groups in collaboration with other stakeholders.” (Skov, n.d)
On the topic of Information Literacy, I also came across the paper “Media and Information Literacy and Democracy in a Multi-Ethnic Society” by Lai Oso and Omoye Akhagba (2015). This paper is part of Nigeria’s multi-ethnic social structure debate. In their Paper Oso & Akhaba are highlighting how important it is to know how to access information and knowledge to be able to actively participate in the political process. It is not only important for citizens to have this access but also the ability to analyze, interpret and create their own meanings. (cf. Oso & Akhagba, 2015:182)
Oso, Lai & Akhagba, Omoye (2015): Media and Information Literacy and Democracy in a Multi-Ethnic Society. Jurnal Komunikasi, Malaysian Journal of Communication. 30. 170-186. 10.17576/JKMJC-2014-3001-09.
Skov, Anette (n.d.): Information literacy and the role of public libraries. In: Scandinavian Library Quarterly. Online available: http://slq.nu/indexcd1d.html?article=information-literacy-and-the-role-of-public-libraries (28.06.2020)
Dear Ms. Eckerdal,
The presentation “Views on and the shape of information literacy” showed that information literacy is very strongly linked to democracy. It is particularly important to understand this connection in and beyond educational settings. A fundamental distinction is made between the liberal and radical view of democracy. In doing so, liberalism is categorized in the sense of neo-liberalism. From this perspective, the aim is to make people information-competent in a functioning society. Furthermore, you emphasized that information competence is never non-judgmental.
This was emphasized again in the online conference. In Sweden the library law is in force, which states that libraries should work in the spirit of democracy. This law is influenced by international concepts like UNESCO and IFLA. Libraries are essential to the process of information literacy because they are not only responsible for teaching search techniques, but they must also promote the learning of information literacy. Librarians should take a neutral position in their professional practice. They allow users to form their own opinions. However, since they are acting in the spirit of democracy, there is never a neutral viewpoint, so this is a contradiction.
NWANKWO et al. (2019) show that librarians agree that information literacy supports the democratic nation. Based on the results of the study, recommendations could be made on how information literacy can be promoted even more in the future. These recommendations show that not only librarians are considered to play an important role in shaping democracy, but also other institutions. Information literacy should already be taught in primary school. Illiteracy should be combated. If citizens are equipped with information literacy, they can make better use of their opportunities and rights and promote social learning, which in turn forms the foundation of a functioning democracy.
KHAN (2019) takes up another aspect. Digitization opens up many opportunities, but it has also contributed to the emergence of mistrust, especially through digital media. Through fake news, information overload and deliberate abuse and misleading, individuals find it increasingly difficult to judge information and make decisions. Therefore, trustworthy institutions that establish trust between citizens and information sources should be promoted. Thus, not only information literacy is important for democracy, but also trust. The aim should be to increase the confidence of citizens in the media and information systems by increasing their awareness of them and creating democratic institutional change, while at the same time strengthening the trust of these actors. Institutions are of great relevance in this respect.
In summary, it can be said that librarians are much more than we think at first sight and that we urgently need them to increase information literacy and the stability of democracy that goes with it.
I also found an interesting youtube video. The link is below.
KHAN, Sadia (2019): Negotiating (dis) Trust to Advance Democracy through Media and Information Literacy. Postdigital Science and Education. Vol. 2, No.1, pp. 170-183.
NWANKWO, Ndidi Grace; OFORDILE, Julius Okeke; OFOR, Nkeiruka J (2019): Librarians’ Perceptions of the Role of Information Literacy for Sustenance of a Democratic Nation. Library and Information Science Digest. Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 1-12.
ODIGWE, Ekene (2020): To Fact-Check or Not: The Importance of Media and Information Literacy. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpboRMKIVWA (last access: 4th July 2020).