Data Literacy for Business Librarians

Meryl Brodsky


For businesses, the rapid growth of data has created an unmet demand for data savvy managers (Harris, 2012). Yet an alarming number of college graduates are not data literate. Data literacy is “understanding what data mean, including how to read charts appropriately, draw correct conclusions from data and recognize when data are being used in misleading or inappropriate ways” (Carlson et al., 2011). This article examines the lack of data literate business employees from the perspectives of business statistics educators, businesses, and librarians. It concludes by offering suggestions for library teaching opportunities related to the standard business curricula.


Data literacy, Statistical literacy, Business school undergraduates, Business Schools, Business Librarians

Full Text:



Association of College and Research Libraries. (2000). Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Retrieved from

Association of College and Research Libraries. (2014). Data literacy essay. Retrieved from

Association of College and Research Libraries. (2016). Preconference program on data information literacy. Retrieved from

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. (2013). Standards, Retrieved from

Avanade. (2012). Global Survey: Is big data producing big returns? Executive Summary. Retrieved from

Carlson, J., Fossmire, M., Miller, C. C., & Nelson, M.S. (2011). Determining data information literacy needs: A study of students and research faculty. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 11(2), 629-657. doi:10.1353/pla.2011.0022

Carlson, J., Sapp Nelson, M., Johnson, L. R. & Koshoffer, A. (2015). Developing data literacy programs: Working with faculty, graduate students and undergraduates. Bulletin of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 41(6), 14-17. Retrieved from

Cooney, M. (2005). Business information literacy instruction: A survey and progress report. Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 11(1), 3-25. doi:10.1300/J109v11n01_02

Corporate Executive Board. (2014). Overcoming the insight deficit. CIO Leadership Council. Webinar Replay Presentation. Retrieved from

Detlor, B., Julien, H., Serenko, A., Willson, R. & Lavallee, M. (2011). Learning outcomes of information literacy instruction at business schools. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(3), 572-585. doi:10.1002/asi.21474

Gougeon, D. J. (2004). Statistics courses in the business curriculum: The relationship between text and context. Florida Journal of Educational Research, 42, 71-89. Retrieved from

Harris, J. (2012, September). Data is useless without the skills to analyze it. Harvard Business Review Blog. Retrieved from

Holmes, P. (1981). Statistical Needs of Non-Specialist Young Workers. Royal Statistical Society. Retrieved from

Hunt, K. (2004). The challenges of integrating data literacy intro the curriculum in an undergraduate institution. IASSIST conference, Madison, WI. Retrieved from

IDC & EMC. (2014). Executive summary. The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things, Retrieved from

Koltay, T. (2015b). Data literacy for researchers and data librarians. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 1-12. doi:10.1177/0961000615616450

Koltay, T. (2015a). Data literacy: In search of a name and identity. Journal of Documentation, 71(2), 401-415. doi:10.1108/JD-02-2014-0026

Lohr, S. (2012, February 12). The age of big data. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Manyika, J., Brown, B., Bughin, J., Dobbs, R., Roxburgh, C., & Buyers, A. H. (2011). Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity. McKinsey Global Institute. Retrieved from

McClure, R. & Sircar, S. (2008). Quantitative literacy for undergraduate business students in the 21st century. Journal of Education for Business, 83(6), 369-374.

Noyes, K. (2015). Companies must teach employees to swim in oceans of data. CIO Magazine, Retrieved from

Parker, R. S., Pettijohn, C. E. & Keillor, B. D. (1999). The nature and role of statistics in the business school curriculum. Journal of Education for Business, 75(1), 51-54. doi:10.1080/08832329909598990

Prado, J. C. & Marzal, M. A. (2013). Incorporating data literacy into information literacy programs: Core competencies and contents. Libri: International Journal of Libraries & Information Services, 63(2), 123-134. doi:10.1515/libri-2013-0010

Peterson-Lugo, B. (2016). Tech Talk. LIRT News, 38(3), 16-21. Retrieved from

Qin, J. & D’Ignazio, J. (2010). Lessons learned from a two experience in science data literacy education. International Association of Scientific and Technological University Libraries, 31st Annual Conference Paper 5. Retrieved from

San Jose State University. (2013). Emerging career trends for information professionals: A snapshot of job titles in summer 2013 [PowerPoint slides].Retrieved from

Schau, C. (2003). Student attitudes: The “other” important outcome in statistics education. American Statistical Association, Section on Statistical Education, San Francisco, CA, 3673-3681. Retrieved from

Schield, M. (2004). Information literacy, statistical literacy and data literacy. IASSIST Quarterly, 28(2/3), 6-11. Retrieved from

Schield, M. (2006). Statistical literacy survey analysis: Reading graphs and tables of rates and percentages. International Conference on Teaching Statistics (ICOTS-7) Brazil July 2006, Retrieved from

Schield, M. (2013). Reinventing business statistics: Statistical literacy for managers. Paper from: MBAA Conference, Chicago, IL. Retrieved from

Slootmaeckers, K., Kerremans, B. & Adriaensen, J. (2014). Too afraid to learn: Attitudes towards statistics as a barrier to learning statistics and to acquiring quantitative skills. Politics, 34(2), 191-200 doi:10.1111/1467-9256.12042

Stephenson, E. & Caravallo, S. P. (2009). Incorporating data literacy into undergraduate information literacy programs in the social sciences. Reference Services Review, 35(4), 525-540. doi:10.1108/00907320710838354

Turn. (2015). Data driven and customer centric: Marketers turning insights into impact. Forbes Insights. Retrieved from

Varon, E. (2014). How UPS trains front-line workers to use predictive analytics. DataInformed, Retrieved from

Wecker, M. (2012, November 28). Business schools divided on how to approach analytics training, U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from