The emergence of the Information Age has provided many challenges within our society. As information expands at a rapidly unprecedented rate, we are at risk of a fragmented information base being created. Information literacy can be defined as the ability to know when there is a need for information, and to be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use that information for the issue or problem at hand. It involves incorporating competencies that an informed citizen of an information society should possess in order to participate intelligently and actively in society.
Information literacy is considered to be an essential learning outcome by the Association of American Colleges & Universities and is among its high-impact educational practices. Librarians are the perfect partners to information literacy, as they work with information science and information studies. Because librarians assist users on a daily basis in finding, evaluating and using information, they are the best judges of problems users have with information literacy, and knowledgeable about skills gaps.
Some librarians are specializing in becoming information literacy architects or specialists. Information literacy involves not just teaching, but teaching people how to learn. An active learning process such as this involves students in knowing when they have a need for information, identifying information needed to address a given problem or issue, finding needed information and evaluating that information, organizing information, and using information effectively to address the problem or issue. The American Library Association (ALA) has called for a Coalition of Information Literacy to be formed under its leadership, as a way to promote information literacy in the public.
In addition to information literacy architects, there are also information architects, who specialize in information science in a much deeper way than those who are trained as librarians. They make sure that information is accessible and usable, and must be trained in and use a variety of types of technology. We will also touch briefly upon this fascinating position here.
If you are interested in information, how to obtain and use it, and how to teach others to do so, read on to discover how you can become an information literacy architect or information architect.
What are the Duties of an Information Literacy Architect/Information Architect?
In a way, every professional librarian is an information literacy architect, teaching patrons how to find information that they need, whether it’s from a reference book or online. We all know that information literacy is truly a skill we all need to survive in the information age. Searching mindlessly for information can result in finding what you need less than 50 percent of the time. Information literacy architects help users to make better decisions and find the most reliable sources. Information literacy specialists, architects or coordinators may work within academic institutions, teaching students, faculty and staff the best usage of information. Duties that may be included under the responsibilities of an information literacy architect include:
- Teaching students and others about critically reviewing information, choosing resources, different types of publications, and target audiences
- Teaching students and others research skills, and how to navigate research databases
- Teaching classes to students and faculty on research and information literacy
- Helping faculty to integrate information literacy into their courses
- Working the reference desk at the library
- Teaching the local community about information literacy
In addition to information literacy architects, there are also information architects. These professionals help to ensure that the vast amount of information that is on the Internet is searchable and findable by users. They work with website owners and others to make sure that people can find the website, and people can find what they need on that website. Information architects function as knowledge workers whose duties involve filtering and delivering information to the public. They must understand the concerns and aspects of information distribution, including its behavioral, social, environmental, ethical and legal context.
What Skills and Knowledge Does an Information Literacy Architect/Information Architect Need?
Whether you work as an information architect or an information literacy architect, you need to have a good and thorough understanding of information. In addition to the basics a librarian needs to know, this includes its structures, its requirements for gathering data, user needs and behaviors, organizational platforms, labeling methods, and creation and use of systems to navigate that information. In addition, information architects need to have a general knowledge of the vocabularies, classification, and techniques of sharing that information.
Programming skills are vital to an information architect. These include C++, Java, PHP, Ruby, Perl, Python, SML and HTML. Methodologies with which an information architect should be familiar include Zachman Framework, TOGAF, Information Technology Service Management and others.
Relational databases are important for anyone working in information literacy and information. This includes SQL based systems as well as specifics involving queries, DML, data types, extensions, and controls.
An understanding of business processes and structures is vitally important to the job of an information architect. They work with the design and implementation of software systems and platforms and must therefore understand the business side of organizations with which they work.
Education for Information Literacy/Information Architects
A Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) is a good degree for an information literacy architect to possess, especially one with a specialization in information. More universities and colleges nationwide are offering degrees in Information Architecture. They include (but are not limited to):
- University of Baltimore- MLIS, Master of Science in Interaction Design & Information Architecture
- Kent State- MLIS, Master of Science in Knowledge Management
- University of California-Berkeley- Master of Information Management and Systems, Master of Information and Data Science, Master of Information and Cybersecurity
- Iowa State University- Human Computer Interaction Graduate Program and Virtual Reality Applications Center
- Georgia Tech- MBA in Information Technology Management, Master of Science in Human Computer Interaction
Certification for Information Architects
Information architects can benefit from various voluntary certifications like:
- DAMA International (and other data management certifications)- Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP)
- CWD (Certified Web Designer) by the Association of Web Professionals
- Content management certifications (Microsoft has one)
- Knowledge management certifications like Certified Knowledge Manager of the KM Institute
Jobs for Information Literacy/Information Architects
A recent search of the web for jobs for information architects and information literacy architects or specialists brought up the following job opportunities:
- Enterprise/Information Architect – Allstate, Northbrook, IL – Salary $110,000 to $150,000 annually
- Information Architect – Ad Hoc Team, Dover, DE – Salary not specified
- Senior Staff Data & Information Architect – GE Healthcare, WI – Salary not specified
- Information Literacy Librarian – Greater New York Metropolitan Area Chapter, SUNY, Potsdam, NY- Salary not specified
- Information Literacy and Assessment Librarian – Misercordia University, Dallas, PA – Salary not specified
- Information Data Architect – Savvee Consulting, Inc., Chantilly, VA – Salary not specified