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Library Instruction Resources: A Shared Approach to Information Literacy

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What Does Information Literacy Mean?

When we talk about information literacy (IL), what do we mean?  Is it the ability to identify relevant scholarship on a topic?  Or to evaluate a piece of information for bias?  Is it knowing what constitutes an authoritative source in a given discipline?  Is it correctly citing the information we encounter?

Paul Zurkowski, who first coined the phrase information literacy back in 1974, defined it this way:

People trained in the application of information resources to their work can be called information literates. They have learned the techniques and skills for utilizing the wide range of info tools as well as primary sources in molding info solutions to their problems.

As that definition implies, each discipline defines information literacy in a way that is relevant to its practices.  As a way to better support IL learning outcomes, academic libraries have developed more general descriptions of IL.  The most recent and comprehensive of these attempts is the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy. 

About the Framework for Information Literacy

The Association of College & Research Libraries adopted the Framework for Information Literacy in 2016.  This guiding document informs much of the work that libraries do in support of information literacy instruction and support.

The Framework identifies six key concepts:

  1. Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
  2. Information Creation as a Process
  3. Information Has Value
  4. Research as Inquiry
  5. Scholarship as Conversation
  6. Searching as Strategic Exploration

This may not be the vocabulary faculty typically use when talking about IL concepts, and some find the language of the Framework unintuitive.  Unpacking each of the concepts, though, one finds the more familiar knowledge practices and dispositions of an information literate student.  Click on any of the concepts above to explore them further.

You might:

  1. Articulate the consistent IL issues you see.  That may be in the language of the Framework above, or it may be something more familiar to you.  What specific deficiencies are you seeing in their work?
  2. Assess their current IL skills. That assessment may be formal or informal.  Where you note deficiencies, give them the opportunity to improve on those skills.  That intervention may be a classroom conversation, or it may take the form of library instruction, or consultations with librarians or the Writing Center.
  3. Syllabi and assignment descriptions.  Are your IL objectives clearly articulated as such to your students on your syllabi or in your assignment descriptions?  Do your students know what IL skills are expected of a professional in your field of study?  Do they know those skills are relevant in their future careers?

Consult with a Librarian

Librarians can potentially assist in several ways:  we can offer feedback on assignment requirements and descriptions so that they better articulate your IL outcomes and align with the library's information resources; we can provide an overview of the library's support resources, including instruction and the student consultation service, and we can develop new materials specific to your assignments, whether that be a research guide or a Canvas module.

If you'd like to talk to us, send us an email at to get started or schedule a one-on-one consultation at  Let us know the issues you are experiencing and we'll do our best to support you with feedback as well as information on services to benefit your students.

On This Page

Recordings of previous OFE workshops on the Framework and how to integrate IL into your classes are available on this guide, along with links to the presentation slides and handouts.

Also look for background readings on information literacy, disciplinary approaches to introducing IL concepts, and case studies on its successful integration into classrooms.  In addition, find toolkits, activities, and relevant instructional repositories linked to below.  Have you found a resource helpful that isn't included?  Please let us know!

Learn More about Information Literacy Across the Disciplines

Toolkits and Activity Ideas

Workshop 1: What is Information Literacy?

Workshop 2: Information Literacy in the Disciplines

Workshop 3: Teaching Critical Information Literacy


Instruction repositories can be helpful sources for information literacy-based readings and assignment ideas.  Below are some of the more popular.