Skip to main content

Library Instruction Resources: The Framework for Information Literacy

History of the Framework

Information literacy instruction at Joyner Library

The Framework for Information Literacy and the Competency Standards in Library Instruction at Joyner Library

In support of the missions of Joyner Library and East Carolina University, Joyner Library's Instructional Services program provides educational support and service to the campus community, employing a constellation of documents, including the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education produced by the Association of College and Research Libraries as well as the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.  

The Information Literacy Competency Standards provide the librarians of Joyner's Research and Instruction department with concrete, measurable outcomes  According to the Standards, an information literate person can:

  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally

These standards have and continue to inform the curriculum of library instruction across the range of classes we teach, as well as our active learning activities and our assessment tools.

The Framework for Information Literacy is a more recent document; rather than proscribing outcomes, it outlines six concepts critical to information literacy, as well as the scope of a successful information literacy instruction program.  The Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education was first filed by the ACRL board on February 2nd of 2015.  The framework emerged from a review of the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, a guiding document librarians have made heavy use of since it was first published in 2000.  In July 2011, an ACRL Task Force recommended that the current Standards be significantly revised based on their mission to: 

Information literacy instruction at Joyner Library

"update the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education so they reflect the current thinking on such things as the creation and dissemination of knowledge, the changing global higher education and learning environment, the shift from information literacy to information fluency, and the expanding definition of information literacy to include multiple literacies, for example, transliteracy, media literacy, digital literacy, etc."

While less prescriptive than the Standards, the Framework informs our understanding as library instructors that information literacy is not simply a checklist of skills; instead, it encompasses a number of interconnected threshold concepts, that:

  • Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
  • Information Creation as a Process
  • Information Has Value
  • Research as Inquiry
  • Scholarship as Conversation
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration

Implementing the Framework

Further Reading

Current scholarship on the Framework and its implications and applications:

ACRL. (2012). Guidelines for instruction programs in academic libraries: Approved by the ACRL board of directors, june 2003, revised october 2011. College & Research Libraries News, 73(4), 207-211.

Berman, E. (2013). Transforming information literacy in the sciences through the lens e-science. Communications in Information Literacy, 7(2), 161-170.

Budd, J. M. (2008). Cognitive growth, instruction, and student success. College & Research Libraries, 69(4), 319-330. 

Carncross, M. (2015). Redeveloping a course with the framework for information literacy for higher education: From skills to process. College & Research Libraries News, 76(5), 248. 

Davidson, J. R., McMillen, P. S., & Maughan, L. S. (2002). Using the ACRL 'information literacy competency standards for higher education' to assess a university library instruction program. Journal of Library Administration, 36(1), 97-121.

Ercegovac, Z. (2009). What engineering sophomores know and would like to know about engineering information sources and access. Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship, (57) 

Garcia, L. (2014). Applying the framework for information literacy to the developmental education classroom. Community & Junior College Libraries, 20(1-2), 39-47. doi:

Gilstrap, D. L., & Dupree, J. (2008). Assessing learning, critical reflection, and quality educational outcomes: The critical incident questionnaire. College & Research Libraries, 69(5), 407-426.

Hussong-Christian, U. (2012). Adapting and using instruction proficiencies to encourage reflection, goal setting and professional development. Communications in Information Literacy, 6(2), 160-172. Retrieved from

Keiser, B. E. (2014). Reimagining information literacy competencies. Information Today, 31(7), 1-29. Retrieved from

Knapp, M., & Brower, S. (2014). The ACRL framework for information literacy in higher education: Implications for health sciences librarianship. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 33(4), 460-468. doi:

Leichner, N., Peter, J., Mayer, A., & Krampen, G. (2013). Assessing information literacy among german psychology students.Reference Services Review, 41(4), 660-674. doi:

Magnuson, M. L. (2013). Web 2.0 and information literacy instruction: Aligning technology with ACRL standards. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 39(3), 244-251. 

Martin, J. (2013). REFRESHING INFORMATION LITERACY: Learning from recent british information literacy models.Communications in Information Literacy, 7(2), 114-127. Retrieved from

Morgan, P. K. (2015). Pausing at the threshold. Portal : Libraries and the Academy, 15(1), 183-195. doi:

O'Connor, L., Chodock, T., & Dolinger, E. (2009). Applying universal design to information literacy: Teaching students who learn differently at landmark college. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 49(1), 24-32. 

Ragains, P., Budd, J. M., Doherty, J. J., Gilchrist, D., Grassian, E., & Nichols, J. T. (2010). Teaching matters: A panel critique of budd's framing library instruction and the author's rejoinder. Communications in Information Literacy, 4(2), 112-128.

Stanger, K. (2009). Implementing information literacy in higher education: A perspective on the roles of librarians and disciplinary faculty. LIBRES: Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal, 19(1) 

Vong, S. (2014). Help! I can't change because I'm trapped in a psychic prison (or a metaphor). Feliciter, 60(5), 13-14.

Walter, S., & Herold, I. M. H. (2015). Scott walter and irene M. H. herold share plans for ACRL. College & Research Libraries News, 76(2), 83. Retrieved from

Williams, K. (2015). More from the ACRL board on the framework for information literacy for higher education. College & Research Libraries News, 76(3), 129. 

Witek, D., & Grettano, T. (2012). Information literacy on facebook: An analysis. Reference Services Review, 40(2), 242-257. doi: