Information Literacy Definition and Standards
This website is intended to help infuse the instruction of information literacy skills into all areas of the curriculum and assist the university in fulfilling its commitment to ensure competency in information literacy for all baccalaureate graduates. In an Exit Statement that accompanies the UAS 1999 Accreditation Report, the Chair of the UAS Evaluation Committee mentions that “availability of resources is not in itself sufficient to ensure information literacy.” The expectation is that students learn to use and evaluate resources as well as manage and synthesize information appropriately and ethically. Students have opportunities to develop and demonstrate these skills in all disciplines, although faculty members will want to discuss what constitutes information literacy in their field of study and the relative importance and applicability of performance indicators for ensuring competency within a discipline.
In order to help faculty decide which elements of information literacy are inherent in particular assignments and classroom tasks, this website provides a definition of information literacy as well as established standards and performance indicators. There are also specific learning objectives and outcomes, to assist faculty members in measuring students’ progress in skill development. A task force composed of college librarians, administrators, and members of accrediting organizations drew up standards, performance indicators, outcomes, and objectives (1) from which those listed below have been adapted. We present them here in order to facilitate faculty discussions about the assessment of students’ educational achievements and the institution’s effectiveness in meeting its commitment to competency in information literacy.
An individual who is information literate is able 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 (1)
Information literacy is, therefore, being able to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information" (1). Computer literacy involves gaining familiarity with hardware, software applications, and databases as well as an understanding of how technology works. Developing computer literacy is necessary in order to become information literate, as information technology has become an integral part of obtaining access to information and managing it. However, learning critical thinking skills - comprehension, analysis, application, synthesis, and evaluation - is what distinguishes information literacy from the "fluency with technology" that comes with computer literacy.
Increasingly, technology extends learning beyond the classroom, and students engage in more self-directed learning. These trends contribute to a need for greater emphasis on developing information literacy skills.
Collaboration amongst faculty, librarians, and administrators makes it possible for an information literacy program to work. Faculty members provide curriculum, context, and guidance for students’ learning and evaluate their progress. Academic librarians provide access to resources, maintain collections, and instruct users of those resources and collections. Administrators facilitate cooperation amongst faculty and librarians and finance the infrastructure and collections. Together, we ensure that outcomes for information literacy are achieved and documented.
UAS librarians welcome opportunities to work with faculty on developing assignments that utilize the library’s collections and enhance students’ information literacy skills.
The rest of this booklet is adapted from " Standards, Performance Indicators, and Outcomes, released in January 2000 by a task force of the Association of College and Research Libraries (1). " Objectives for Information Literacy Instruction: A Model Statement for Academic Librarians, released in January 2001 (2),
- Association of College and Research Libraries. 4 January 2005. Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education American Library Association. 1 February 2005. http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlstandards/informationliteracycompetency.htm
- Association of College and Research Libraries. 4 January 2005. Objectives for Information Literacy Instruction: A Model Statement for Academic Librarians American Library Association. 1 February 2005. http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlstandards/objectivesinformation.htm
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