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Library 101

Using the library at FNU

Information Literacy

Information Literacy is defined as “a set of abilities requiring individuals to ‘recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information’ (American Library Association, 1989)” (Association of College and Research Libraries [ACRL], 2000, p. 2). Put more simply, an information literate individual needs to know when information is needed, and how to access, use and evaluate that information, all in a ethical and legal way (ACRL, 2000). As information of all kinds proliferates, it is increasingly important to have these skills.  You might think of information literacy as “doing research” or “using the library.” Information literacy does include those things, but it goes beyond a simple set of skills. It helps to develop a process of lifelong learning that is applicable outside of the classroom or library.  Think, for example, about buying yourself a new bike (or set of skis, or running shoes, or what have you). First you would probably want to know the different types and styles available. Then you would want to know how much each one costs. You might search the Internet or go to local stores to browse. Once you decide to purchase, you would want to make sure that you are purchasing from a reputable dealer. Finally, in telling people about your great new bike (or skis, or shoes) you would never claim to have built it yourself, you would tell everyone exactly where you got it! This process is just as important when buying a bicycle as when writing a research paper.

As technology advances, so does its importance to information literacy. Technology is one tool that will help you research more efficiently.  Therefore, becoming conversant with computers and using the internet is one of the skills that you will need to master to become information literate.

But isn’t everything on the internet for free? Can’t I just Google it? In a word, the answer to both questions is NO. While much great information can be found on the Internet, there is also a lot of not-so-great information there. Anyone can publish a web page, there is no governing body to edit or critique what is put on the web. Furthermore, health science information resources can be very expensive. That type of information is usually not available without a subscription.  You will need to utilize FNU’s resources to obtain the information that you need.

Importance to Nursing

You probably know that you will need to do research for papers and assignments as a graduate nursing student.  Information literacy will also be important to you as you begin your practice as a nurse-midwife or nurse practitioner.  You will need these skills to stay abreast of the most current research for your own professional development and to implement current evidence-based approaches in the clinical setting (Morgan, 2007).  The advent of evidence-based practice (EBP) has made this need especially crucial. “The health care fields are now demanding a more research-based approach to nursing and health care” (Morgan, 2007, p. 42). EBP relies on having the most current research, and as an APN, you will need to know how to find it, and how to evaluate it.  Susan Pierce, an associate professor at Northwestern State University of Louisiana College of Nursing, when interviewed for the Faculty Matters column in Nursing Education Perspectives, points out that “without information literacy knowledge and skills, nurses cannot conduct evidence-based practice…” (2005, p. 266). We will discuss EBP in more detail in Lesson 6.


You will need to be familiar with the following terms to begin using library resources:

Abstract: A brief, objective summary of the essential content of a work that presents the main points but has no independent literary value (may be written by the author).

Bibliographic Record: an entry representing a specific item in a catalog or database, containing all the data elements necessary for a full description of the item.

Catalog: A comprehensive list of the books, periodicals, maps, and other materials in a given collection, arranged in systematic order to facilitate retrieval (usually alphabetically by author, title, and/or subject).

Citation: a written reference to a specific work or portion of a work (book, article, etc.), clearly identifying how the work is to be found.  A citation usually contains the following elements:
             Book - author, title, publication location, publisher, publication date
             Article - author, title, source, volume, date, page numbers

Database: Any grouping of data for a particular purpose or for the use of a particular set of End users, usually organized via Fields, and providing tools to enable manipulation of the data such as sorting, grouping and extraction.  Normally stored on computer files, a database might contain bibliographic data, or numerical, statistical material, etc., and may be assembled and marketed commercially, or by an organization, library, or individual.  Access to an online database may be obtained via a Host.

A simpler definition of a database is: a structured collection of information organized so you can retrieve it through a computer system.

Interlibrary Loan: A book or other item is loaned between libraries.

Periodical: A magazine, journal, newspaper, or annual publication which is published at regular intervals.

Subject heading: the most specific word or phrase that describes the subject (or one of the subjects) of a work, selected from a list of preferred terms or controlled vocabulary and assigned as an added entry in the bibliographic record to serve as an access point.

All definitions taken or paraphrased from Harrod’s Librarians’ Glossary, 8th ed. or ODLIS:  Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science,


Association of College and Research Libraries. (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. ACRL.

Faculty matters. (2005). Nursing Education Perspectives, 26(5), 266-267. 

Harrod, L. M., & Prytherch, R. J. (1995). Harrod's librarians' glossary: 9,000 terms used in information management, library science, publishing, the book trades, and archive management. Gower.

Morgan, P. D., Fogel, J., Hicks, P., Wright, L., & Tyler, I. (2007).  Strategic enhancement of nursing students' information literacy skills:  Interdisciplinary perspectives.  ABNF Journal, 18(2), 40-45. 

Reitz, J.M. (2007). ODLIS – Online dictionary for library and information science