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Information Literacy: Media

Information Literacy


Definition: Media is the plural form of the word medium.  A medium is a way of communicating or transmitting information.  So, media refers to all the ways in which we communicate information.


In libraries, there are two primary media we use to communicate information: print and electronic. 

Each medium (print and electronic) is comprised of a variety of formats:


Print formats:

  • Books
  • Periodical articles
  • Pamphlets
  • Maps
  • Government documents, etc. 

Electronic formats:

  • Web pages
  • PDFs
  • CD-ROMs
  • DVDs, etc.

Books and articles are traditionally thought of as print sources, but now with the Internet, many printed resources are now available electronically. There has been much discussion about whether articles and books found online should be considered electronic sources or print sources. In the chart below, all books and articles are considred print resources.


Medium Advantages Often Best For
  • Usually goes through an editorial process for reliability
  • May be accessed without a computer
  • Not dependent on network connections or speeds 
  • Provides historical context
  • Longer works such as books and book chapters
  • Historical research 
  • Background information
  • Information may be updated easily
  • Often up-to-the-minute information
  • May be keyword searchable
  • May be accessed outside of the library
  • Multiple students can look at the same information at the same time 
  • Easily print, download, or manipulate information
  • Shorter works such as articles
  • Late-breaking news
  • Numerical data that needs to be manipulated