Fiction as Information

A Look at Reading as Information Source


  • Mary Ann Ann Harlan SJSU School of Information



literacy, information literacy, reading, aesthetic reading


Information Literacy is built on the idea that when we encounter information we can evaluate that information to incorporate into our knowledge schema. As such information can be encountered in a variety of ways, as academic information, workplace information, or everyday life information.  Art forms can also be considered information, including literature. As an art form literature has been theorized to be a window, mirror, and a sliding glass door (Bishop, 1990) to the reader, an information source regarding our world. The notion that fiction is an information source is not particularly considered in much of the information literacy scholarly research. This paper examines how adolescents engage with fiction as a source of information.   Using a small case study of a class of 16 and 17 year olds the paper examines how they construct ficiton and aesthetic reading as an information source, particularly using the metaphor of the window and the mirror.  While students might consider reading as a way to explore their identity, elements related to their stance towards reading impacted their ability to see reading fiction as an information source.  Furthermore they were unlikely to engage fiction as a "window" or a way to learn about others.  Specific pedagogical structures may encourage a more critical stance towards aesthetic reading as a way to engage in as a learning object.