Library Information

Information literacy is the ability to locate, evaluate and use information wisely. Information literacy is at the core of what it means to be educated in this century.   (Kuhlthau, 2008)

Information Literacy

What is Information Literacy?                              
Faculty & Librarian Collaboration

Designing Information Literacy Assignments 
Information Literacy Rubric
Integrating the Library into Blackboard
Additional Resources
Information Literacy Assessment of Library Sessions


What is Information Literacy?

"The beginning of the 21st century has been called the Information Age because of the explosion of information output and information sources. It has become increasingly clear that students cannot learn everything they need to know in their field of study in a few years of college. Information literacy equips them with the critical skills necessary to become independent lifelong learners" (Introduction to Information Literacy).  Information literacy implies becoming "critical consumers of information to avoid overload and to develop new intellectual skills in order to manage information effectively and transform it into usable knowledge" (Martin & Williamson, 2003).

The essential skills that define an information literate person, as identified by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), include the ability to:

  • 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

For a more extensive listing of performance indicators and suggested student outcomes for each of these abilities see the Information Literacy Competency Standards developed by ACRL.

The ACRL information literacy standards are incorporated into the accreditation standards adopted by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The MSCHE publication, Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education states "information literacy is an essential component of any educational program at the graduate or undergraduate levels." Standards 11 and 12 state specific information literacy requirements for institutional accreditation, including a demonstration of "collaboration among professional library staff, faculty and administrators in fostering information literacy" and "evidence of articulated...information literacy... expectations of student learning outcomes."

Faculty & Librarian Collaboration

Librarians and faculty have complementary roles in facilitating the development of information literacy skills. Librarians have extensive training in information sources and how information is organized, as well as experience in accessing and evaluating information sources. They can guide students in the process of searching, retrieving and evaluating sources of information.

Classroom instructors, with their subject discipline expertise, provide an informed context for guiding students in interpreting and understanding information in their profession. Contact with students throughout the course, gives faculty the opportunity to guide students in the evaluation and synthesis of discipline specific information.

Library sessions are an effective means of helping students discover quality information resources that are not accessible with Google or Yahoo type search engines. After participating in a library session, students report they are more likely to use library resources. The Alvernia University librarians welcome the opportunity to work with faculty to incorporate information literacy skills into existing courses. This can take the form of one or more instruction sessions, developing class assignments, or team teaching.

An example of how librarians and professors might collaborate in the development of basic information literacy competencies is outlined below:

(P=professor, L=Librarian, P/L=shared)

The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.

  • Confers with professors, librarians, peers, World Wide Web and library resources to identify a research topic of interest (P/L)
  • Develops a thesis statement and formulates questions based on the information need (P)
  • Narrows or broadens topic to achieve a manageable focus (P/L)
  • Understands the purpose and audience of potential resources (e.g., popular vs. scholarly, current vs. historical) (P/L)

The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.

  • Identifies keywords and concepts for finding information (P/L)
  • Constructs a search using synonyms, related terms, truncation, and appropriate Boolean operators "OR, AND, NOT" (L)
  • Utilizes appropriate library tools for finding books and articles (L)
  • Uses librarians as a resource in person, electronically or by telephone (P/L)
  • Demonstrates the ability to search all college and university library collections and request titles not found in the Alvernia University Library (L)
  • Accesses articles electronically, or through interlibrary loan services (L)
  • Understands the purpose of citations, abstracts, and subject terms (L)

The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.

  • Examines and compares information from various sources in order to evaluate reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias (P)
  • Integrates new information with previous information or knowledge (P)
  • Determines if original information need has been satisfied or if additional information is needed (P)
  • Reviews search strategy and incorporates additional concepts as necessary (P/L)
  • Reviews information retrieval sources used and expands to include others as needed (P/L)

The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose

  • Organizes the content in a manner that supports the purposes and format of the product or performance (e.g. outlines, drafts, storyboards) (P)

The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.

  • Understands how to use Blackboard and Self Service (P)
  • Accesses library resources on campus and off-campus (L)
  • Understands what constitutes plagiarism and knows how to cite sources (P/L)
  • Demonstrates an understanding of Alvernia University policy on copyright and fair use (P)

Designing Information Literacy Assignments

Library assignments can be an effective way to assist students in learning information literacy skills. Creating Effective Library Assignments links to several Web sites with suggestions on incorporating information literacy skills into assignments.

You can contact Leon Weber at x8352 to discuss your interests in incorporating information literacy skills in your course. Together we can identify specific outcomes, how they can be addressed, and the appropriate librarian to work with you.

Information Literacy Rubric

Core curriculum courses are an opportunity to practice and build on the introductory information literacy skills. Advances in information seeking and critical thinking skills are part of the student development as they progress through discipline specific courses

The information literacy rubrics below provide examples of different levels of mastery students can be expected to develop as they progress in their academic career. 

AACU Information Literacy Value Rubric - The Association of American Colleges and Universities

Developmental Information Literacy Matrix - Portland State University

Information Literacy Rubric - St. John's University

Information Literacy Rubric - McKendree University 

Library Research Rubric - Lafayette College

Rubric Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (RAILS) - Syracuse University's iSchool


Additional Resources


Arp, L., Woodard, B., Lindstrom, J., & Shonrock, D. (2006). Faculty-librarian collaboration to achieve integration of information literacy. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 46(1), 18-23.

Association of American Colleges and Universities, and National Leadership Council. (2007). College learning for the new global century. Retrieved August 8, 2008 from

Bruce, C. (n.d.). Seven faces of information literacy in higher education. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from

Developing research & communication skills: guidelines for information literacy in the curriculum. (2003). Philadelphia, PA:Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Fisch, K. & McLeod, S. (2007). Did you know?. Retrieved June 26, 2009, from

Fister, B. (2001). Reintroducing students to good research. Retrieved June 26, 2008, from

Hardesty, L. (2007). Strategies for designing assignments to support information literacy initiatives. In Hardesty, L. (Ed.), The role of the library in the first college year (Monograph No. 45, pp. 109-120). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Head, A, & Eisenberg, M. (2009). Lessons learned: How college students seek information in the digitial age. Project information Literacy.  Retrieved July 30, 2010, from

Information Literacy Group of the Greater Portland Area. (n.d.). College students who are ready to begin upper-level coursework: Information literacy proficiencies.  Retrieved June 30, 2010 from

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2008). From information to meaning: Confronting challenges of the twenty-first century. Libri 58, 66-73. Retrieved from

Liberal Education & America's Promise. (2008). College learning for the new global century. Retrieved June 26, 2008, from

Malone, D. & Videon, C. (2007). Models of library instruction for first-year students. In Hardesty, L. (Ed.), The role of the library in the first college year (Monograph No. 45, pp. 51-68). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Martin, L. & Williamson, S. (2003). Integrating information literacy into higher education.  In A. Martin & H. Rader (Eds.), Information and IT literacy (pp. 144 - 150).  London: Facet.

Rockman, I. (2003). Integrating information literacy into the learning outcomes of academic disciplines. College & Research Libraries News, (64)9, 612-615.

Student learning assessment: Options and resources (2nd ed.). (2007). Philadelphia: Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of Mary Washington. (2007). Discover information literacy. Retrieved June 26, 2007, from

Information Literacy in the Disciplines

Information Literacy in the Disciplines
"links and citations to information literacy standards and curricula developed by accrediting agencies, professional associations, and institutions of higher education".

Information Literacy Standards for Science and Technology
This draft document illustrates outcomes that can be used by science educators to assess student competency in the information literacy standards.

Political Science Research Competency Guidelines
(Scroll to page 4 to see guidelines)
"..guidelines and associated examples intended to illustrate the application of information literacy standards to research in political science and related disciplines, including law, criminal justice and civic education."

Psychology Information Literacy Standards
Information literacy competencies for the field of psychology.

Research Competency Guidelines for Literatures in English
This draft document lists information literacy outcomes that might be used for undergraduate English or literature courses.



Creating Effective Library Assignments
Check these Websites for ideas on creating assignments that help students develop information literacy skills.

Guidelines for Plagiarism Prevention
This Turnitin site lists tips for structuring assignments in ways that make it difficult to plagiarize.

Information Literacy
Links to information literacy tools for creating a curriculum-based program, websites and tutorials.

Information Literacy Competence Course Integration
Sample templates for integrating information literacy standards into general education and discipline specific courses.

Integration of Learning Outcomes
Examples of information literacy outcomes incorporated in different disciplines.

InfoSearch Tutorial
This tutorial, adapted for users of the Alvernia University Library, explores how to access and evaluate information resources. Each of the six modules includes a quiz to assess the ideas presented. A brief description and objectives are listed for each of the modules.

Middle States Commision on Higher Education Publications
Documents available for downloading or purchase.

Project Information Literacy
"Project Information Literacy is a national study about early adults and their information-seeking behaviors, competencies, and the challenges they face when conducting research in the digital age."

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