Fall 2003     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 7, Issue 3     Editorial (2)
A classic definition of information competence 
(often called information literacy) describes it as "the ability to know when there 
is a need for information, [and the ability] to identify, locate, evaluate, and 
effectively use that information for the issue or problem at hand." 
[1] Information-competence instruction is more than just learning computer or 
library-research skills.  It involves a deeper understanding of where information 
comes from, how to find it, how to judge its quality and usefulness, and, ultimately, 
how to use the retrieved information effectively.  In an academic context, 
information competence focuses on information-seeking skills related to course 
assignments and research.  Because it is so fundamental to critical thinking and 
problem solving, information competence has become a fundamental element in a 
complete education. [2] For academic librarians and classroom instructors, there 
is an imperative to help students to become information literate.  But what does 
this mean in practice?  The answer lies not only in how information competence is 
taught, but also to whom it is taught. 

Though the general set of competencies is quite broad in their interpretation, 
information competence is not one size fits all.  Indeed, academic librarians are 
increasingly instructing targeted groups, such as freshmen, international or 
graduate students, faculty, and even administrators.  This targeted approach often 
makes it simpler to make contact with and schedule classes for established groups.  
More importantly, these targeted groups share a common academic or social focus, 
allowing for more relevant and specific instruction.  At the same time, however, 
each targeted group is far from homogenous because of individual diversity in 
expectations about libraries and in information-seeking experiences. 

Among the many groups that academic librarians target for information competence 
instruction, optimal groups are new students and faculty.  On the one hand, new 
students, whether they are freshmen, transfer students, or graduate students, are 
entering a new higher-education environment and are more likely to need 
information-competence instruction as well as to be receptive to it.  On the other 
hand, classroom faculty are in an ideal position to integrate information-competence 
learning into their courses and thus need to be given tools and knowledge with which 
to work. Furthermore, classroom faculty themselves are often unfamiliar with the 
nature of contemporary information resources or with their students' possible lack 
of knowledge about research in the library or on the Web.  Information competence 
instruction that introduces resources and techniques for research, as well as 
strategies for understanding and evaluating information, will go a long way toward 
allowing students and faculty to share a balanced and critical view of information 
and its sources.

How can we develop instruction programs that will address the shared needs of 
particular groups and the diverse needs of individuals? What assessment tools are 
available to measure the success of such programs? How can we identify constituencies 
being underserved?  In this issue  Fall issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly are 
articles focusing on such diverse aspects of information competence as encouraging 
faculty to become more at ease with electronic resources, creating collaborative 
teaching projects, coping with problems presented by students who lack necessary 
skills, and meeting the challenges of students in a specific discipline.  The 
approaches outlined in these articles should be helpful both to librarians and 
teaching faculty.  For additional articles look for submissions with keyword MANY  
in Winter 2003 issue as well...  

[1] National Forum on Information Literacy.  Accessed July 29, 2003.  http://infolit.org 
[2] Sellen, Mary K.  Information Literacy in the General Education: 
	A New Requirement for the 21st Century. The Journal of General Education 
	51(2), p. 116.  (115-126)

Mariana Regalado,Information Literacy Specialist
City University of New York Brooklyn College

Michael Adams, Reference Librarian
City University of New York Graduate Center