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Information Literacy: 21st Century Library Research Methods for African Studies

  • Daniel A. Reboussin (a1)

What is information literacy and why is it important for African studies?

Today's information environment for African studies, as in other areas, is vastly different from what it was in the last century. The central problem for library researchers in African studies decades ago hinged on awareness of a relatively few specialist, published reference and other print bibliographic tools for discovering relevant materials (Frank-Wilson 2004: 106; see McIlwaine 2007a). Many more resources are available now from African and other sources, but they present a complex terrain to navigate for many reasons, both old and new (see Limb 2007). The field has become more interdisciplinary in terms of data sources and subject matter, making bibliographic searches in any single topical, geographical, or discipline-based source (or even in the most comprehensive index databases) less likely to fulfil all of one's scholarly needs. While scholarly sources of documentation are freely available online, these may be fragmentary, idiosyncratic or incomplete as citations are made available passively and without context through services such as Google Scholar.1 Students may encounter library resources online without having developed the critical evaluation skills and contextual judgement that more experienced scholars may take for granted (Hargittai et al. 2010), and which may be essential to employ during library research to identify and engage effectively with African scholarly perspectives.

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Africa Bibliography
  • ISSN: 0266-6731
  • EISSN: 1757-1642
  • URL: /core/journals/africa-bibliography
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