‘Information Literacy and Society’ project report published

Dr Bruce RyanMarina Milosheva and Associate Professor Peter Cruickshank have delivered their final report on the impacts of information literacy (IL) research on society. It is now available on the Media and Information Literacy Alliance (MILA) website and the university repository.

They find that the core research that investigates the role of IL in society is geographically skewed towards the anglosphere and the first world. 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.

Potential future research

Much IL research delivers snapshots of IL skills in various contexts and geographies. During the project, it was not possible to ascertain if such snapshots had been followed up by investigating subsequent changes and the reasons behind them. Hence an anticipated future project is to understand whether follow-up research has been undertaken, and any barriers to such research.

There is a push towards understanding the role of theory in IL (e.g. Hicks et al., 2023; Hicks & Lloyd, 2023). It would be revealing to understand how the core IL research found in this review engages with theory.

Meanwhile, BruceMarina and Peter are very grateful to MILA for commissioning the project, and to CILIP and the CILIP Information Literacy Group for funding it.


Hicks, A., & Lloyd, A. (2023). Reaching into the basket of doom: Learning outcomes, discourse and information literacy. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science55(2), 282–298. https://doi.org/10.1177/09610006211067216

Hicks, A., Lloyd, A., & Pilerot, O. (2023). Information literacy through theory. Facet. https://facetpublishing.co.uk/page/detail/?K=9781783305896.

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