Students and researchers today have access to unprecedented levels of information. In many ways, this is a positive development, providing plenty of opportunities for self-directed learning. The downside is that many users clearly struggle to deal effectively with the evaluation and selection of relevant materials. It seems inevitable that students will continue to favour the simplicity of Google over the library, so the key to ensuring students are able to make informed choices both in formal education and beyond is to equip each student with the requisite information literacy skills. Librarians have been largely responsible for IL advocacy, but this relies on voluntary participation of users and teaching staff with competing priorities. Information literacy needs to become ingrained in the culture of educational establishments, percolating down to departments, and subsequently into each programme's syllabus. Only by embedding IL into key learning outcomes will librarians and teaching staff be allocated time and resources to implement such a programme successfully.
This cultural shift needs to go hand in hand with a change in library practice. Libraries should consider partnering with key online providers rather than seeing them as competition. Such strategic and carefully considered partnerships will enable libraries to achieve a more accessible online presence, improve the user experience, and, perhaps most importantly, focus their efforts on what they do best, such as selecting quality paid-for resources, optimizing physical learning spaces, giving expert assistance with literature searches, and playing a key role in IL training.
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