Information Literacy: Defined

Since this blog deals with Information Literacy (IL), it’s probably a good idea to start out with a definition.  One that is widely used in the library profession is the one from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL): Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information” (ACRL 2000).   The following graphic nicely illustrates the IL cycle and puts it into the context of a research paper or other product.

Generally speaking the research question is some sort of paper topic, usually determined by a student working with an instructor.  Library instruction concerns itself mostly with steps 2, 3, and 4.  The student would evaluate his/her research product during the writing and research stages, perhaps would have some peer review, and finally, it would be graded by the professor.

When I give library instruction to First Year Writing Program students, I like to define IL and show students the graphic. I think it helps them tie their library visit to their paper, and I  hope this helps them retain the information.


About Pamela J. Morgan

Librarian at Vanderbilt University Libraries
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