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Information literacy and society: A report to present findings from a review of literature on the impact of information literacy on society

Ryan, Bruce; Cruickshank, Peter; Milosheva, Marina



This report presents findings from a review of literature reporting on the impact of information literacy (IL) on society. It is intended to deliver considerations on how academic research into IL can positively affect society, building on the 2022 Information Literacy Impact Framework (ILIF) project report (

The project team has:
• from a filtered set of over 4000 results, developed longlists corresponding to the five topics in the CILIP (2018) definition of IL, totalling 197 items for possible further review
• noted research themes, barriers to IL research, barriers to and enablers of shaping information-literate populations emerging from the longlists
• filtered the longlists to shortlists, totalling 35 items, for detailed review
• classified the longlists and shortlists in two dimensions: geography and method of study
• undertaken detailed analysis of the shortlist items.
• drawn conclusions on the role of information literacy in society.

The core research that investigates the role of IL in society is geographically skewed towards the anglosphere and the first world. The factors causing this skew are unclear, but extra apparent skew may have resulted from this project’s focus on English-language peer-reviewed publications. Education, particularly tertiary education, is significantly over-represented in the IL research literature. Barriers to shaping information-literate populations are raised by issues around IL teaching and structures that could support it, including government (in)action.

Other key findings are:
• IL research covers a very wide range of topics and contexts.
• IL training/education should be delivered by collaboration between librarians and teachers/lecturers, continue throughout education, and be reinforced during careers and lifetimes.
• IL research may have indirect impact, e.g. research into improving medical professionals’ IL does not just affect these professionals but also wider society, i.e. their patients.
• There are missed opportunities for such societal impact, e.g. where medical professionals do not have IL skills and so may not give their patients the best treatment possible; if citizens do not have health information literacy their health may suffer.
• Many of the findings from the ILIF project are validated.

Report Type Project Report
Acceptance Date Nov 20, 2023
Online Publication Date Nov 21, 2023
Publication Date 2023-11
Deposit Date Nov 22, 2023
Publicly Available Date Nov 24, 2023
Public URL
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Information literacy and society: A report to present findings from a review of literature on the impact of information literacy on society (1.7 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
'Information literacy and society' final project report © 2023 by Bruce Ryan, Peter Cruickshank, Marina Milosheva is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

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