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INFOSEEK a five-faceted Information Literacy model aims at familiarizing you with various information resources available, search tools and search strategies required to retrieve relevant information, evaluation criteria required for assessing quality and authenticity of information retrieved and ethical practices required for acknowledging the sources and information consumed while regenerating information. Five facets of Information Literacy and various sub-facets are:


INFOSEEK, an Information Literacy Model aims at equipping one with the skills required to search and retrieve information efficiently, evaluate critically, and consume effectively and ethically. Before looking into various facets of INFOSEEK, let us understand the meaning and significance of Information Literacy.

What is Information Literacy?

The ability to read is a basic skill, but the ability to get the right information is the survival skill in the information era. It is information literacy that equips one with the ability to find the best information among the myriad of sources and apply it to make wise decisions.

Information Literacy is the competence that empowers one with the required: Knowledge about information, its nature and available formats; Skills to fetch the relevant information by sifting the irrelevant; and Attitude for consuming and sharing information, by ethical means and practices”.

IFLA and UNESCO co-organised Regional Workshop on School Library Services in South-East Asia (2003) adopted the following Information Literacy definition :

"Information literacy is the ability to recognise when information is needed, to identify the needed information, to identify the sources, to locate and access information efficiently and effectively, to evaluate information critically, to organise and integrate information into existing knowledge, to use information ethically and legally, to communicate information, and carry out all of the above activities efficiently.”

The following word cloud gives you a comprehensive idea of Information Literacy and its various elements that foster life-long learning.


Why Do We Need Information Literacy?

Information Society is characterized by the ubiquitous ICT tools and overabundance of information. Multi-nature of information, i.e., in multiple sources, multiple forms, multiple formats, multiple access routes, multiple information providers and multiple directions mystify us. Information Literacy aims to demystify this multi-nature of information and to enable us ‘to know what our information need is; where do we get it; how do we locate and evaluate it; how should we use it’. We need to equip ourselves with the Information Literacy skills, in order to play active and constructive role in our family, society and organisation.

Computer, digitalized holdings are seen as a solution to the problem of an exploding information base, but the problems of judgment of data, and useful and useable access remain ((Kuhlthau, 1996). Not only locating the relevant information but also judging its quality is essential for learner’s academic excellence. “An ‘educated’ graduate will no longer be defined as one who has absorbed certain body of factual information, but as one who knows how to find, evaluate, and apply needed information” (Abid, 2004).

In the networked era, the information literacy of learners has not improved with the widening access to technology; they spend little time in evaluating information, either for relevance, accuracy or authority; they have poor understanding of their information needs, thus find it difficult to develop effective search strategies using appropriate keywords; they find it difficult to assess the relevance of information from the long list of search hits (JISC, 2008).

Appropriate information (right information, in right format and at right time) is crucial for decision-making at home, at work place or at academic and research work. The current technological advances put forth a bewildering amount of information that too in different formats and media. ‘How to locate, evaluate and use information effectively?’ for personal and professional needs is a challenge for an individual sailing in the information flood.

Information literacy is increasingly important in the contemporary technology-intensive and information-intensive era as individuals/learners are perplexed with diverse, abundant information choices in their academic and research, workplace, and personal lives. Having learnt about Information Literacy, let us look at various facets and sub-facets of INFOSEEK Model.

Understanding Information

Information has been a key factor in the development of culture and society since the early periods of history. There were four major turning points in the history that have reshaped information. Language, writing and printing have had similar effects on society as this new era of technology. The invention of language is associated with the beginning of the human race, the invention of writing with the beginning of civilization, and the invention of printing with the beginning of modern civilization.

So we can attribute the evolution of information the following periods:

  • Prehistory
  • the age of writing
  • the age of printing and
  • the digital age

It was during the print era that various concepts relating to the organization of information and methods and techniques of recording, storing and transmitting written information came into being. Digital age technologies and tools resulted in revolutionary changes in information creation, publishing, organization and also in information accessibility, communication and consumption. Information creation, publishing, communication or distribution, access and consumption is a cyclic process.

Information Generation Cycle

A chain of activities through which recorded knowledge is transmitted from the originator to the user, or from the producer to the consumer is described as Information Generation Cycle. Libraries play a vital role information acquisition and dissemination.

Creation or Generation Creators or Producers are the people who produce or create the information. These may be authors, researchers, scientists, planners, publishers, editors or compilers, managers of information system and networks, computer programmers, statisticians etc., who generate information in various incidents and contexts.

Publication and Distribution Publication is concerned with the selection and editing of information into consumable form. Dissemination or distribution involves publishing, broadcasting or disseminating the information. Publishers take up the tasks of publishing and also distribution of information via booksellers and subscription agents.

Acquisition Libraries take on the responsibilities of procuring, storing and availability of information products. Acquisition of information is a core activity of libraries. Libraries acquire a coherent collection of information sources to meet diverse needs of users.

Access Providing access to information is another core activity. Libraries facilitate and control access to print and non-print information resources.

Use Access to information facilitates use and consumption of information. Various library services enables users access and consume information. In the information transfer process, libraries play a major role in storing, disseminating and provide access for consumption. After consuming information, users regenerate information for further communication.

Sources of Information

Our information needs are diverse, ranging from personal through professional development. Daily we access information from newspapers, radio, TV or Internet, and various formal sources (dealt in detail in the next sections). So, access to and utilization of information in its various forms and formats become global imperative.

Source of Information could be any thing that is useful to get the relevant and required information. It may be from an object to a subject matter expert. Information sources are available in different forms. Before paper and printing stone and clay; papyrus; silk and skin; leaf and bark of trees were the sources of information. The invention of paper by Ts’ai Lun in 105 A.D. and movable printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440 A.D. paved way for the genesis of documents, which contain information in various forms.

Documentary Sources of information are classified as primary, secondary or tertiary depending on their originality and information characteristics.

Primary Sources

Sources that contain raw, original, uninterpreted and unevaluated information are the primary sources. Primary sources present information, which has not been previously published in any form in any other source. These are original materials.

A document or record containing first-hand information or original data on a topic, used in preparing a derivative work can be considered as a primary source. Primary sources include reports, patents and standards, theses and dissertations, manuscripts, relia, tablets, conference proceedings, technical reports, diaries, memoirs, letters, photographs, drawings, posters, interviews, public records, eyewitness accounts, newspaper clippings, government documents.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are the interpretations and evaluations of primary sources, which organize the data compiled from the primary sources and report of information in a useful and appropriate form. They integrate and improve access to the ever-increasing body of primary literature by organizing, repackaging, compiling and editing primary sources.

Any published or unpublished work, usually describing, summarizing, analyzing, evaluating, or based on primary source materials, for example, an abstract, index, bibliography, monographs, dictionaries, encyclopedias, treatises, almanacs, biographies, geographical sources, handbooks, periodicals, manual, treatises etc. are considered as secondary sources of information.

Tertiary Sources

Sources that compile, analyze, and digest secondary sources are described as the tertiary sources. Tertiary sources report on or bring together, the research in an area or a topic, listing secondary documents, thereby helping the researchers in retrieving the secondary sources. Almanacs, guides to the literature, subject guides, directories, textbooks, yearbooks, bibliography of bibliographies, and library catalogs are the different forms of tertiary sources.

Internet Resources

Internet resources are not categorized under primary or secondary or tertiary resources, as all these three types may be accessed via Internet. Formal or informal or unpublished resources are available over the Net. Internet tools and services available through the World Wide Web (WWW).

WWW is a vast collection of interconnected files and programs spanning the globe and retrievable via a client-server system utilizing HTML or Hyper Text Markup Language-enabled documents called Web pages. One of the main features of the Web is the ability to quickly link to other related information. The Web allows you to access most types of information on the Internet through a browser. Web browers enable access to web pages and websites containing multimedia (plain text, audio (sounds), video, images and graphics) content.

Forms and Formats

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Learning Activities

Searching and Retrieving Information

Information Access and Retrieval Tools

Gaining knowledge about the various information channels and search and retrieval tools
Working with the various access tools
Catalogues (OPAC), bibliographies, indexes and abstracts, databases, subject gateways, search engines, directories, digital repositories

Search Tools

Search Engines

Search engines are huge databases of web page files that have been assembled automatically by machine and are the best means for searching the web. Search engines compile their databases by employing 'spiders' or 'robots' (bots) to crawl through the Internet, usually using embedded links. They periodically search the World Wide Web and automatically index and store the information in their database.

General Serach Engines Google, Altavista, Bing etc. are the examples of search engines.

Meta Search Engines Metasearch engines do not crawl the web compiling their own searchable databases. Instead, they search the databases of multiple sets of individual search engines simultaneously, from a single site and using the same interface. Metasearchers provide a quick way of finding out which engines are retrieving the best results for you in your search. Metasearch engines send the search query to several search engines simultaneously and give the user a consolidated report of their findings. They do not maintain a database of their own. Metacrawler, Dogpile etc. are the examples of Metasearch engines.

Academic Search Engines Academic Serach engines retrieve web resources that relevant to academic community and are judged to have high-quality information. Infomine, BUBL, Google Scholar, Intute, Internet Scout etc. are the Academic Search Engines.

Subject-specific Search Engines Subject-specific Serach Engines generally look for webpages in a specific subject.

Invisible Web Search Engines

What is invisible Web? (add viedo)

Subject Directories Subject directories differ from search engines in that most of them are assembled manually. Subject directories, unlike search engines, are created and maintained by human editors, not electronic spiders or robots. The editors review and select sites for inclusion in their directories on the basis of previously determined selection criteria. The resources they list are usually annotated. Directories tend to be smaller than search engine databases, typically indexing only the home page or top-level pages of a site. Yahoo, Open Directory etc. are the examples of subject directories.

Gateways Gateways are collections of databases and informational sites, arranged by subject, that have been assembled, reviewed and recommended by specialists, usually librarians. These gateway collections support research and reference needs by identifying and pointing to recommend, academically oriented pages on the Web. Infomine, Digital librarian etc. are the examples of Library Gateways.

Databases A database is a collection of information which can be searched. Online database is a collection of information, which is stored, and can be searched, electronically. Databases consist of records, which are made up of a number of fields. Fields have labels and contain information, such as au: author, ti: title, su: subject, and so on. The computer searches the fields to retrieve relevant records based upon the words entered in a search. Each record is a bibliographic description of a work and multiple records make up a database. Records contain information that allows the identification of a specific work. Records also describe the citation and can also include abstracts or full text documents.

Subject-specific Databases Depending on the resources available and the needs of user community we serve, e-resources databases can be chosen. These databases may be full text or bibliographic, with citation indexes and abstracts. Though subject specific, many databases cover a broad range of topics. For instance, while ABI/Inform is primarily a business database, it also provides very good coverage on nursing informatics and nursing management. Other considerations may also apply when selecting a database including:

  • Availability of full text
  • Whether current or retrospective information is required - for instance, Medline offers several databases covering different time periods such as 1966-1986, 1987-1996 and 1997-2000
  • Geographical coverage.

Special Search Engines

Types of Search Engines Copyright Louisiana State University Libraries

Search Strategy

Search Strategy is "a systematic plan for conducting a search". For which you need to (i) formulate a (re)search statement or problem and (ii) identify the search terms or concepts in your research topic or problem. Consult authorized controlled vocabulary lists (thesaurus) or List of subject headings (Library of Congress Subject Headings or Sears List of Subject Headings) to find keywords or search descriptors that represent concepts you have identified. A List of Subject headings enables you to find the most specific word or phrase that describes the topic your research. Use the list of subject headings available in your academic or public library to identify keywords.

Search strategy also implies connecting appropriate keywords identified using Boolean operators to develop a search statement. Online Public Access Catalogs (OPAC), Search Engines and Online Databases generally embed Boolean Logical Operators within the software. So, read the help screens and identify search commands of different online databases before beginning a search. This will not only save your time but also assist in the effective execution of your search.

Adopting appropriate search strategy

To start developing a search strategy, write a sentence (or research problem) that details what you are looking for. Say for example, if you wish to undertake a study on OPAC as Information Retrieval Tool and the scope of your study is "Use of Library OPAC in the Universities of Andhra Pradesh". As the first step, identify and separate the concepts involved in the question framed. The concepts of the research study are"

Library OPAC Use Universities Andhra Pradesh

Identify and separate the concepts involved in the question framed and then try for synonyms or related concepts for each concept, including synonyms, broader or narrower terms, acronyms, spelling (variations), singular and plural words. For which you need to consult dictionaries, subject dictionaries, subject encyclopedias, abstract and other reference sources that enable you to find keywords relevant to your research study. After identifying appropriate keywords, you should take into consideration the differences in terminology and spelling. Why because terminology and spellings may vary with countries; say for example, British English and American English. Catalogue is British spelling whereas Catalog is American spelling. Similarly, Barrister and Trail Lawyer are the difference in terminology.

In order to yield productive and effective search results, search for alternate terms, synonyms, singular/plural or general/specific terms of the concepts identified.

Library OPAC Use Universities Andhra Pradesh
Library Catalog/ue/s Use patterns University
Online Public Access Catalog/ue/s Use statistics Higher Education
OPAC Usability Academic Institution/s

Since Andhra Pradesh is a place (State in India), its alternate term or synonym is not required. If you are able to define your research topic or frame an appropriate research question, then only you can proceed further for identifying relevant ‘sources of information’ and develop an productive search strategy. Connect the search terms with 'AND' to narrow down your search focus or 'OR' to broaden your search. How? You will learn in the next sections.

Broadening and narrowing search

Advanced search techniques are used to broaden or narrow down a search. advanced searching using Boolean logic operators; phrase searching; proximity operators such as adjacent, near, and within; and truncation are preferable to simple search. AND, OR, and NOT are the Boolean Logic Operators we generally use to either broaden or narrow down our search, depending on the search results.

If we work on the same example for connecting search terms either to broaden or narrow a search. See how we can narrow down (using AND logic operator) or broaden (using OR logic operator).

Library OPAC AND Use AND Andhra Pradesh
Library Catalog/ue/s AND University AND Andhra Pradesh

Online Public Access Catalog/ue/s


Use Statistics


Higher Education

AND Andhra Pradesh


Usability OR

Academic Institution/s

AND Andhra Pradesh


Usability AND

Academic Institutions

AND Andhra Pradesh

Try out different combinations and permutation until your information need is met with the retrieval of relevant resources. If you develop the ability to limit a search you can save a great deal of time in searching and retrieving relevant resources. Use the advanced search interface in OPACs or Search Engines or Databases for your searches. If these do not automatically take you to an advanced search mode, you change to the advanced search mode to use more search options available for constructing your search string.

Reformulating the search string

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Learning Activities

Evaluating Information

Assess the quality of information retrieved using the following criteria:


Credibility of information provider (author or publisher)


To check the Authenticity of the information use the following criteria:



Currency and newness of information


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Learning Activities

Effective and Ethical Use of Information

Organizing Information


Social Bookmarking

Compiling Reference Lists

using appropriate Citation styles, End-note S/W etc

Ethical Use of Information

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Learning Activities

Knowledge Sharing and Keep Updated

Knowledge Sharing

Generating new knowledge in a form and format usable, using MSWord and PowerPoint and Web 2.0 tools.
Communicating research results and innovative ideas among the peer groups via scholarly journals and virtual communities
Presentation Tools

Keeping Current

Keeping current with and stay informed about emerging knowledge; new developments and practices in the domain(s) interested.
Widening existing knowledge base
Registering with RSS feeds, Listservs (mailing lists), e-groups, virtual communities and subscribing to RSS feeds, e-alerts, and e-newsletters relevant to individual area(s) of interest.

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Learning Activities