Breaking the Vicious Circle: Mapping and Addressing Gaps in Information Literacy across the Educational Cycle

This paper describes how the Czech National Library of Technology in Prague (NTK) maps the information needs of its patrons and how it addresses the gaps in information literacy (IL) that (re-)appear in successive educational stages. In the past five years, NTK information specialists have provided individual consultations to 644 students and researchers and organized 230 IL workshops/webinars attended by 5,396 students and researchers. By combining qualitative and quantitative content analyses of these activities, we managed to identify structural IL gaps that extend from high school students to doctoral researchers:

  • insufficient knowledge of searching tools and suitable search engines;
  • insufficient ability to evaluate information found online;
  • misapprehension of the main principles of referencing sources;
  • lack of knowledge about citation managers;
  • and difficulties with writing academic texts as such.

These findings point to the benefits of closing the IL gap earlier rather than later, as already suggested by other examples of best practice (Dolničar, Podgornik, Bartol & Šorgo, 2020; McPherson & Dube, 2016). We will illustrate this by presenting case studies dealing with the transition from high school to university and from Master to doctoral work. IL interventions earlier in the education cycle, in our case, appear to provide benefits later in life, but we have not yet performed a longitudinal study confirming this. Nevertheless, while the Czech education system does not yet require independent research and academic writing outputs in its high school curriculum (Výzkumný ústav pedagogický v Praze, 2007), our efforts to date (Razím & Chodounská, 2021; Martinová & Tassanyi, 2018; Tvrdá & Martinová, 2017) developed in cooperation with instructors, are in high demand. This anecdotally points to a need for more comprehensive IL interventions that systematically encompass the entire public educational cycle, as previously identified by Martinová & Tassanyi (2018).

The goal of our contribution is to show what structural IL gaps should be filled at the high school level and why, and how libraries could contribute to achieving this. Aside from continuing the aforementioned instructional services, we plan to extend our services to more schools and to resume our cooperation with the National Pedagogical Institute, with the hope that we can provide evidence-based data to the Czech Ministry of Education on the effectiveness of IL interventions and, perhaps in the form of a future longitudinal survey tracking student success over the long-term, show how IL leads to benefits such as better preparation for university-level work and/or civic engagement.


  • Dolničar, D., Podgornik, B. B., Bartol, T., & Šorgo, A. (2020). Added value of secondary school education toward development of information literacy of adolescents. Library & Information Science Research, 42(2), 101016.
  • Martinová, O., & Tassanyi, P. (2018). Navigating the maze: Collaborating with teachers to meet information literacy challenges. In S. Špiranec et al. (Eds.), The Sixth European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL): Abstracts, September 24-27, 2018, Oulu, Finland (p. 131). Oulu: University of Oulu.
  • McPherson, H., & Dube, M. (2016). Reducing the information literacy gap in high school students: An action research study. Knowledge Quest, 45(2), 48–55.
  • Razím, T. & Chodounská, A. (2021). Podpora výuky chemie v Národní technické knihovně. Chemické Listy, 115(10), 547–549.
  • Tvrdá, P., & Martinová, O. (2017). Partners in class: A needs-based approach to high school curricular support at the National Library of Technology in Prague. In S. Špiranec et al. (Eds.), The Fifth European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL): Abstracts, September 18-21, 2017, Saint-Malo, France (p. 195). Saint-Malo: Information Literacy Association.
  • Výzkumný ústav pedagogický v Praze. (2007). Rámcový vzdělávací program pro gymnázia. Retrieved January 9, 2023 from

Tomáš Razím, Barbora Šátková
Czech National Library of Technology, Prague, Czech Republic

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