Information Literacy and U.S. Latino College Students: A Cross-Cultural Analysis

Purpose:The purpose of the paper is to present a cross-cultural analysis of information literacy and library use among Latino and white undergraduates in an American university. Design/methodology/approach: A large-scale, random sample survey of information literacy skills, and library instruction experiences and attitudes was undertaken at a large public university in the USA. Findings: More white students accessed the internet from home than Latino students; however, both spent an equal amount of time searching the internet and library databases. Latino students used the physical library more than white students. More Latino than white students had formal library instruction. Over two thirds of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their research skills contributed to their academic success. Latino students did not perform as well as white students on the test questions on information literacy knowledge. Research limitations/implications: While an argument over the relative merits of an objective test of information literacy versus direct assessment of student work is beyond the scope of this study, it would be worthwhile to undertake to see if the results would be different. Practical implications: Given the differences in test scores despite more Latinos attending library instruction, improvements in outreach, pedagogy, and assessment methodologies may be needed. Social implications: As there are over 220 Hispanic-Serving Institutions of higher education in the USA, these findings could be applicable to other libraries. Originality/value: Few if any researchers have compared test scores on information literacy knowledge and library use based on a cross-cultural analysis.