Information literacy policy development in Canada: Is it time?
This article examines policy issues related to information literacy in Canada. It provides some background on the information literacy concept, reflecting on popular definitions offered by American, British, and Australian library associations, before advocating for a broader definition that views information literacy as a human right. Information literacy is also considered in relationship to the proliferation of other “literacies,” such as digital, web, media, and information technology, that are the subject of increased advocacy and attention from interest groups and educators. The ongoing need for improved information literacy levels is analyzed not only in the context of inputs (the increasing complexity of the information environment) but also in terms of potential personal, social, and economic outcomes that can be realized through widespread information literacy education efforts. The paper argues that information literacy must become a priority not only among academic librarians but also school, public, and special librarians, as well as others outside of the library sector, if significant improvements in information literacy levels are to be realized. Such a coordinated approach can only be achieved in the context of policies that require, and adequately support, widespread efforts at improving information literacy levels. After a review of the ad-hoc state of information literacy education in Canada today, this paper analyzes information literacy-related policy development efforts in Canada to date in the four arenas where one would expect to see such activity: the Government of Canada, provincial governments, library associations, and other stakeholder groups. This article aims to start a wide-reaching discussion about information literacy and associated policy issues in Canada.