January 16, 2008, 03:19 PM ET
Computer Literacy Doesn't Mean Information Literacy, Report Says
The next generation of college students, more wired than any other, might not be as good at Internet research as you may think.
A new report from the Joint Information Systems Committee, a British higher-education research institute, says the “Google Generation” (those born after 1993, who can’t remember a time when the Internet wasn’t widely available) may be computer literate. But that doesn’t make them information literate. Some of the key problems the study found include: Young people don’t develop good search strategies to find quality information. They might find information on the Internet quickly, but they don’t know how to evaluate the quality of what they find. They don’t understand what the Internet really is: a vast network with many different content providers. The report details the implications of these problems for library professionals. It says library resources should be more unified with Internet tools like Google, and adapt to the changing ways younger generations gather information.
In the context of a recent report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project that says more 18- to 30-year-olds use libraries than other age groups (mostly to use computer resources), it seems there will be an even greater need in the future for librarians to teach information-gathering skills. —Hurley Goodall