The need for students to acquire information literacy skills, while always important, has "just grown larger, more complex, and more important as the volume of available information has mushroomed beyond everyone's wildest imagination" (National Forum on Information Literacy, 1998). The explosion of information resources on the Internet requires students to also be technology literate, capable of effectively searching and evaluating electronic databases and the Web in which an increasing amount of the world's information is stored. Education goals on both the national and state levels and across content areas specify the importance of students' ability to use information to solve problems, make decisions and develop skills for lifelong learning.
Much of the responsibility for helping students develop information literacy skills falls to library media specialists at both the elementary and secondary levels. "Media programs are no longer measured by the number of books in the media center, but by the information literacy level of the students" (Anderson, 1999, p. 22). Stripling (1996) states that the quality of school library media programs can best be measured by the quality of teaching and learning in a learner-centered culture. Quality information literacy instruction motivates young children to not only become "effective users of ideas and information" (AECT/AASL, 1998) but also to develop a lifelong intellectual curiosity, quest for knowledge, and love of learning. Many state studies (e.g., Todd, Kuhlthau, & OELMA, 2004) have provided support for the positive impact that school librarians have on learning outcomes including reading test scores. Library media specialists across the country have played an integral part in every stage of S.O.S.'s development.
Although there are many books and articles for educators describing how to develop successful information literacy skills instruction programs, none provides real-life demonstrations that exemplify specific techniques used by practitioners for creating and delivering effective motivating lessons and demonstrate those techniques "in action." S.O.S. promises to be a tool that offers examples of best practice for pre-service library media specialists and practitioners to emulate and readily available resources to adopt or adapt to their information literacy skills lessons to help ensure the quality and effectiveness of their teaching. S.O.S.for Information Literacy, takes a systemic approach to the development and/or improvement of teaching skills and materials in the area of information literacy paying special attention to the motivational component in student learning.
The S.O.S. project uses the nine national standards for information literacy, established by the American Association of School Librarians and the Association for Educational Communications and Technology in their publication Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning (AASL/AECT, 1998).
Research Guided the Project
Research indicates that information literacy skills are learned best when teachers and library media specialists partner on the planning and implementation of lessons that are integrated with the curriculum. Principles for implementing information literacy standards specify the importance of (1) integrating information literacy with the content and objectives of the school's overall curriculum and (2) teacher-library media specialist collaborative instructional planning and curriculum development to guarantee the effective teaching of information skills (AASL/AECT, 1998). More on research . . .