At its most basic level, this guide is trying to teach you how to be information literate. You are learning it in the context of your academic work, but it is a skill that you use, and further develop, your entire life. How to answer an information need, how to evaluate the accuracy and helpfulness of an answer, how to communicate that answer to others—that is being information literate. We want you to be able to ask great questions, using the language that is most likely to get you the answers you want. There are often different ways to talk about the same topic, so knowing how to ask the question so another person (or a database) will give you the information you actually seek is the first step towards answering your need. Then we evaluate the information we receive to see if it is reliable and if it answered our question sufficiently; if not, we continue to search.
We want you to be efficient and effective with your information searching, whether that search is how to best navigate to a restaurant for a date, which candidate to vote for, or how to convince a legislator that your nonprofit needs federal funding.