America's Achilles Heel: Information Literacy

Underestimating and/or overlooking the power of information literacy practice in meeting the social and economic challenges of a nation often creates irreversible, unintended consequences. "The dog eat my homework" excuse just doesn't work anymore.
Oct. 3, 2013 - PRLog -- Cambridge, MA - October is National Information Literacy Awareness Month, first acknowledged in 2009 by a proclamation issued by President Obama. Presidential proclamations are national policy reflections, representing educational, economic, social, and healthcare issues and concerns vitally important to the American people. Other presidential proclamations issued for the month of October have been:

·          National Breast Cancer Awareness
·          National Cybersecurity Awareness
·          National Domestic Violence Awareness
·          National Energy Action Awareness
·          National Disability Employment Awareness

According to Brandon Rottinghaus of the University of Houston, presidential proclamations ( have had historical significance as evidenced by President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. In the realm of economic and domestic policy, President Carter’s Vietnam Draft Evaders Proclamation is another illustrious example of the social impact of presidential influence.  Proclamations also serve as ceremonial tools, used to honor groups or events such as President’s Reagan’s Save Your Vision Week proclamation.

So what do proclamations have to do with information literacy and why should Americans care? What does it really mean to them?  Proclamations, like other forms of social and traditional media, are instruments of “information” designed to inform them about national concerns impacting the daily life of all Americans.

In order to maximize the utility of these information tools and others like them, Americans must become information literate. Not to do so, intensifies our vulnerability as a nation, susceptible to the domestic and international vicissitudes of divergent economic, political, and social viewpoints.

In fact, an information literacy mindset does empower Americans to manage the daily tsunamis of information overload /misinformation. Learning how to effectively question, challenge, analyze, compare, contrast, evaluate, summarize, and synthesize information is at the heart of information literacy practice.

By developing an information literacy mindset, workers can have the inside track on how to advance in the workplace and earn the big bucks. K-12 learners can have the academic confidence, preparation, and foundation needed to turn them into academic stars ready to meet the challenges of college and career readiness. Patients and their caretakers can astutely access the appropriate healthcare services and insurance options. And voters can have the ability to see through the mayhem of politics and the myopia of the media to discern who is, in fact, working in the best interest of the American people.

As one of the premier advocacy organization promoting information literacy worldwide, the National Forum on Information Literacy encourages all Americans this month to think twice about the information they use to make "informed" decisions. Ask yourselves – where does the information come from, who produced it, what are the alternative views, and why do they matter. By asking these few simple questions, they'll be surprised at the level of clarity that an information literacy mindset can engender.

Join us and make plans to acknowledge the importance of information literacy practice at home, at school, and in the workplace.  Add an information literacy support badge ( to your social media channels.  Help us move this very important agenda forward, both domestically and internationally.

The National Forum on Information Literacy (NFIL) ( is a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to mainstreaming information and digital literacy practice at home and abroad. As we move further into the 21st century, information literacy will become the standard-bearer for academic achievement, workforce productivity, healthcare access, competitive advantage, and national security.
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