Paul Zurkowski

The Information Economy is Too Young For Us to Establish an Equivalent to Public Libraries


Paul G. Zurkowski 


Is credited with coining the term information literacy while then president of the Information Industry Association in 1974. A lawyer by profession with interests in intellectual property and copyright, Zurkowski estimated that only 1/6 of the U.S. population really understood the emerging new information access routes and how these new routes would have a definitive impact their economic and social lives. He observed at the time that
“People trained in the application of information resources to their work can be called information literates. They have learned techniques and skills for utilizing the wide range of information tools as well as primary sources in molding information solutions to their problems.
The individuals in the remain portion of the population, while literate in the sense that they can read and write, do not have a measure for the value of information, do not have an ability to mold information to their needs and realistically must be considered to be information illiterate.”
Zurkowski’s calls for the creation of a major national universal information literacy program by 1984 went unheeded. His vision for information literacy skill development was not library centric, but advocates for a universal approach in its delivery across all trades, occupations and professions. From a national perspective, Zurkowski views information literacy skill development as a critical stepping stone in the creation of wealth, a key element in the blueprint for our national economic recovery.