Library Information Literacy Curriculum

October 2008, Updated August 2009, Updated January 2013

Prepared by:
Library Instruction Curriculum Task Force and Library Instruction Coordinator, Julie Edwards, Samantha Hines, Tammy Ravas, Sue Samson, and Kate Zoellner


The central mission of library instruction is to create information literate students. Information literate students know how to find, evaluate, and use information effectively and ethically. According to the Association of College and Research Libraries' (ACRL) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education "Gaining skills in information literacy multiplies the opportunities for students' self-directed learning, as they become engaged in using a wide variety of information sources to expand their knowledge, ask informed questions, and sharpen their critical thinking..." (5). Thus, information literacy provides a foundation for life-long learning, the ultimate goal of education, and is common to all disciplines, learning environments, and levels of education. In the recent report College Learning for the New Global Century, information literacy is discussed as an essential learning outcome students need to prepare for twenty-first century challenges. As information professionals, faculty librarians are uniquely positioned to guide the process of integrating information literacy within the university curriculum and to ensure that students are prepared for the challenges of a highly competitive, information-rich society.

Library Information Literacy Standards

The ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education provide a set of information literacy standards, performance indicators, and outcomes that serve as the basis for assisting learners to master content and extend their investigations, to become more self-directed, and to assume greater control over their own learning.

ACRL Standards for Information Literacy include:

  • Standard One: The information literate student defines and articulates the need for information.
  • Standard Two: The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.
  • Standard Three: The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.
  • Standard Four: The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.
  • Standard Five: 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.
General Education Library Information Literacy Curriculum

The strategic integration of information literacy into the curriculum begins with first-year initiatives that serve as the basis for information literacy instruction in the disciplines at the junior and senior levels (Tables 1-2). First-year curriculum integration decisions have been made on the basis of several factors:

  • integration into courses that are a part of the standard university curriculum;
  • integration into courses with a research component, usually smaller enrollment classes; and
  • integration into courses with a large enrollment through participation in the Global Leadership Initiative, which offers the opportunity to provide cross-disciplinary information literacy instruction.

Specific standards and teaching strategies have been identified for targeted courses to establish quality learning opportunities for first-year students. At every opportunity, faculty librarians seek to serve as research consultants and pedagogical guides and to facilitate the successful delivery of information literacy content by teaching faculty in the disciplines.

Targeted First-year Courses:

  • Developmental Writing
  • College Writing I
  • Introduction to Public Speaking
  • Honors College Seminar
  • Global Leadership Initiative
Upper-Division and Graduate Library Information Literacy Curriculum

Based on the delivery of lower-division information literacy instruction, liaison librarians work collaboratively with faculty in all the departments, schools, and colleges to tailor advanced information literacy instruction to upper-division students in their major studies (Tables 1-2). Liaison librarians target research and writing courses in all majors. At every opportunity, librarians seek to serve as research consultants and pedagogical guides to students and faculty and to facilitate the successful delivery of information literacy content through collaboration with faculty that includes:

  • Collaborate with faculty and department curriculum committees to integrate information literacy standards into the curriculum and learning outcomes of the academic unit.
  • Provide consultative services to teaching faculty to develop curriculum-integrated library research assignments.
  • Promote instruction in the use of library resources to students and faculty, integrating the tiered Library Information Literacy Curriculum.
  • Collaborate with faculty teaching Service Learning classes.
  • Serve as an embedded librarian within classes during sessions focused on research assignments.
  • Create web-based subject resources for faculty, students, and staff.
  • Maintain regular, advertised office hours each semester to provide individual and small group research assistance.  
  • Provide Information Center Reference assistance on a regular schedule.
  • Provide small group instruction sessions as part of the Learning Commons.

The University's English Writing Competency Guidelines include information literacy learning outcomes that students will gain upon completion of the required initial and upper-division writing courses. "Incorporating information literacy across curricula... requires the collaborative efforts of faculty, librarians, and administrators." (4) All liaison librarians are available to work with teaching faculty across disciplines to integrate information literacy into their writing courses and answer questions about information literacy. The Library hopes that the Library Information Literacy Curriculum document will provide guidance throughout the process.

Table 1. Information Literacy Framework

Table 2. Information Literacy Rubric

Works Consulted

Association of College and Research Libraries. Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Chicago: ALA, 2000. American Library Association. Web. 17 Oct. 2008. <>.

---. A Progress Report on Information Literacy: An Update on the American Library Association Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report. Chicago: ALA, 1998. American Library Association. Web. 17 Oct. 2008. <>.

National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America's Promise. College Learning for the New Global Century. Washington: AAC&U, 2007. Association of American Colleges & Universities. Web. 17 Oct. 2008. <>.

Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report. Chicago: ALA, 1989. American Library Association. Web. 17 Oct. 2008. <>.

Additional Resources

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) maintains an up-to-date Information Literacy web site that provides an overview of information literacy, guidelines and standards as well as resources and activities.

Discipline-based divisions within ACRL have tailored the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education for specific disciplines. To date, the following have been completed:

Select information literacy programs at higher education institutions:

Humes, Barbara. Understanding Information Literacy. Washington: National Institute on Postsecondary Education, Libraries, and Lifelong Learning, 1999. US Dept. of Education. Web. 17 Oct. 2008. <>. 

Humes provides clear distinctions between information literacy, computer literacy and library literacy: "Information literacy is not the same as computer literacy (which requires a technological know-how to manipulate computer hardware and software) or library literacy (which requires the ability to use a library's collection and its services), although there is a strong relationship among all these concepts. Each of these literacies requires some level of critical thinking. ... Information literacy requires an awareness of the way in which information systems work, of the dynamic link between a particular information need and the sources and channels required to satisfy that need (Darch et al. 1997)."

Lau, Jesus. Guidelines on Information Literacy for Lifelong Learning. The Hague, Neth.: IFLA, 2006. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Web. 17 Oct. 2008. <>.

These guidelines provide a conceptual template to guide the creation of information literacy programs across library types and to frame the efforts of educators, librarians and information facilitators at the international level. Information literacy concepts and the connection of information literacy with lifelong learning are discussed.

Shapiro, Jeremy J., and Shelley K. Hughes. "Information Literacy as a Liberal Art: Enlightenment Proposals for a New Curriculum." Educom Review 31.2 (1996). EDUCAUSE. Web. 17 Oct. 2008. <>. 

Shapiro and Hughes propose a broad view of Information literacy as "a new liberal art that extends from knowing how to use computers and access information to critical reflection on the nature of information itself, its technical infrastructure, and its social, cultural and even philosophical context and impact..." They delineate information literacy as inclusive of the following seven literacies: tool literacy, resource literacy, social-structural literacy, research literacy, publishing literacy, emerging technology literacy and critical literacy.

Spitzer, Kathleen L., Eisenberg, Michael B., and Lowe, Carrie A. Information Literacy: Essential Skills for the Information Age. Washington: ERIC, 1998. ERIC. Web. 17 Oct. 2008. <>. 

This monograph traces the history and development of the term information literacy and provides examples of information literacy in a variety of K-12 and higher education contexts.


Last updated: 29 May 2013