Information literacy skills among the postgraduate students at Aligarh Muslim University, India.

Author:Munshi, Shamim Aktar

Background information

Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is a prestigious, premier Central University in India which is located in Aligarh city. It was set up by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan as 'Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College' in 1875. After that it became Aligarh Muslim University in 1920. It attracts students from various corners of the country as well as foreign countries. It has 12 Faculties e.g. Agricultural Sciences, Arts, Commerce, Engineering & Technology, Law, Life Sciences, Medicine, Management Studies & Research, Science, Social Sciences, Theology, Unani Medicine, each consisting of several Departments of Studies (Office of the Controller of Examination, 2014).). It has great respect in the academic field. It provides several ICT facilities e.g. computer lab for each department, Wi-Fi facilities in every hostel and department so that the students can get a lot of benefit from them.

At AMU, every department has a separate seminar library which is special for particular subject wise collections. Besides AMU has Asia's second largest academic library which is named Maulana Azad Library (MAL), the central library of AMU. MLA library operates all the seminar libraries of each department. The library has a large number of collections e.g. 18, 00,000 documents, including books, periodicals, newspapers, theses, dissertations, reports, pamphlets, manuscripts, paintings, photographs, CDs, microfilms, databases, e-books, talking books, etc. and it is fully automated with LibSys 7.0 software which connects almost all 9,500 computers within the University as well as the centers in the distant states such as Murshidabad campus, Mallapuram campus and Kishanganj campus. The 3M security system and three dozen CCTV cameras have been installed to ensure safety for the library materials ( MAL library is fully air conditioned. It has courses wise separate reading rooms having facilities of high speed Internet connection which makes the students feel comfortable to use the library at the best possible manner.

However, the present study focuses on the need and purpose of the 'information literacy' in the modern era of technologies. With the help of this study, the investigators make an effort to investigate the awareness, knowledge, use of different search techniques and usefulness of the social networking sites for the development of information literacy among the PG students of Aligarh Muslim University. The findings of this study will serve as a great help for the coming generations to improve their information literacy skill.

Information literacy skill means possessing knowledge as to which type of information is required, what type of resources are available for that information, have the knowledge how to find the information and how to communicate the findings with others. Australian and New Zealand information literacy framework (2004) state that "Information literacy is an intellectual framework for recognising the need for understanding, finding, evaluating, and using information. These are activities which may be supported in part by fluency with information technology, in part by sound investigative methods, but most importantly through critical discernment and reasoning. IL initiates, sustains, and extends lifelong learning through abilities that may use technologies but are ultimately independent of them". According to American Library Association (2000) the Information Literacy objectives are identified as follows:

[...] Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. An information literate individual is able to.

* To determine the extent of information needed

* To provide access the needed information effectively and efficiently

* To evaluate information and its sources critically

* To incorporate selected information into one's knowledge base

* Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose

* Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally.

In this age of ICT the users have the facility to fulfil all these need with the help of the innovative technologies. It is because of these technologies that provide the new ways to improve the knowledge about the use of all these techniques and the information literacy as well. This is a learning process which will continue throughout the life. According to Bruce (1997) has identified the "Seven Faces of Information Literacy ":

* "Information technology conception--using information technology for information retrieval and communication;

* Information sources conception--finding information;

* Information process conception--executing a process;

* Information control conception--controlling information;

* Knowledge construction conception--building up a personal knowledge base in a new area of interest;

* Knowledge extension conception--working with knowledge and personal perspectives adopted in such a way that novel insights are gained; and

* Wisdom conception--using information wisely for the benefit of others".

However, "IL competency extends learning beyond formal classroom settings and provides practice with self-directed investigations as individuals move into internships, first professional positions, and increasing responsibilities in all arenas of life" (Babu, 2008). Because IL enhances students' competency with 'evaluating, managing, and using information, it is now considered by several regional and discipline based accreditation associations as a key outcome for college students and for "on campus" students' (Karisiddappa, 2007).

Review of literature

Generally, information literacy stands for how a person utilizes information and how he acquires information through several information sources. Paul Zurkowski is the pioneer of the term 'Information Literacy' which was first introduced in 1974 (Shoeb, 2011). According to Zurkowski (1974) an information literate person is a person who "has learned techniques and skills for utilizing the wide range of information tools as well as primary sources providing information solutions". In addition to him, there are various scholars, organizations and associations that have defined 'Information Literacy' in different ways. Harrold's Librarian's Glossary defined the term 'Information Literacy' as "The ability to identify, locate, evaluate, organize and use information--particularly from electronic sources--to address an issue or solve a problem, whether for personal, social, cultural, or business purposes. Also to communicate such information to others. It is seen as a basic human right; a means to help in the eradication of inequality of access to information and the encouragement of tolerance". The American Library Association "[...] a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information" (ALA, 1989). Besides these, Dictionary for Library and Information Science defined 'Information Literacy' as the "skill in finding the information one needs, including an understanding of how libraries are organized, familiarity with the resources they provide (including information formats and automated search tools), and knowledge of commonly used research techniques. The concept also includes the skills required to critically evaluate information, content and employ it effectively, as well as an understanding of the technological infrastructure on which information transmission is based, including its social, political, and cultural context and impact". However, Information literacy is...

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