Information competence (also referred to as information literacy or information fluency in some publications) is a core instructional pedagogy in higher education. The Association of College and Research Libraries, the primary professional organization for academic librarians, first described information literacy in 1989. Numerous disciplinary and accrediting associations have also incorporated the Information Literacy Standards for Higher Education and/or information literacy language into their documents.
An Information Competent student is able to:
- Determine the extent of information needed;
- Access the needed information effectively and efficiently;
- Evaluate information and its sources critically;
- 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;
- Access and use information ethically and legally.
According to the 1995 report on Information Competence in the CSU, information competence "is the fusing or the integration of library literacy, computer literacy, media literacy, technological literacy, ethics, critical thinking, and communication skills." Adopted into the General Education student learning outcomes and throughout specific disciplinary curriculum across the campus, classroom faculty and library faculty are working collaboratively to ensure that CSUN students develop these critical skills needed for lifelong learning and survival in today's information age across the curriculum offerings.
Several partnerships between Subject Liaison Librarians and classroom faculty are currently underway to integrate information competency into department and college curricula at California State University Northridge. Some of these projects have received funding through CSU Information Competence Grants.
Other successful partnerships and projects include work with First Year Experience coursework (University 100).
According to the CSU Information Competence Initiative, the best way to ensure that students have the skills that they need is to design an information competence program integrated into the curriculum and built on strong alliances between classroom faculty and library faculty. Strategies will differ by department, but may include efforts based in Freshman Orientation/Seminar Courses, General Education Courses, Cornerstone and Capstone Classes in Each Discipline, or Information Competency Mastery Requirements.
For background information about information competence in the CSU, see the California State University Information Literacy Fact Sheet.