Library Information Literacy Curriculum

October 2008, Updated August 2009, February 2015, January 2016

 Prepared by:

Sue Samson, and Megan Stark


The central mission of library instruction is to create information literate students. According to the Association of College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education “Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.” 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 Association of American Colleges & Universities 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, librarians are uniquely positioned to guide the process of integrating information literacy within the university curriculum and to ensure that students are prepared to address local and global issues and to make a difference in the cultural and economic fabric of Montana and the world.  

Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education

The ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (2015) is “organized into six frames, each consisting of a concept central to information literacy (threshold concepts), a set of knowledge practices (demonstrations of ways in which learners can increase their understanding of these information literacy concepts), and a set of dispositions (the affective, attitudinal, or valuing dimension of learning)” that together comprise “conceptual understandings that organize many other concepts and ideas about information, research, and scholarship into a coherent whole.”

ACRL Frames (in alphabetical order):

Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required.

Information Creation as a Process
Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences.

Information Has Value?
Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination.

Research as Inquiry
Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.

Scholarship as Conversation
Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations.

Searching as Strategic Exploration
Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops.

Information Literacy Curriculum

Curriculum design includes a suite of credit classes, workshops, online modules, and curriculum-integrated instruction that complements the needs of specific disciplines and those of students and faculty. The online modules address the Information Literacy Knowledge Practices (Table 1), can be integrated into Moodle, and are discoverable on the web site at the point of need.

Library instruction focuses primarily on the following:

  • first-year initiatives;  
  • integration of online modules into instruction at all levels;
  • approved Writing courses at all levels in which information literacy is a required component; 
  • LSCI 200, Research Strategies, online credit class; and
  • a series of workshops designed for undergraduate and graduate students and for faculty.

Efforts are underway to create an online request form for all other instruction requests. These requests will be distributed across all instruction librarians. Classes that fall outside of the courses prioritized above may be directed to the online modules and/or declined.

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 required courses with a large enrollment

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

Targeted First-year Courses:

  • College Writing I, WRIT 101
  • Introduction to Public Speaking, COMX 111
  • Global Leadership Seminar
  • Introduction to Honors Seminar
  • Freshman Seminar


Upper-Division 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 to facilitate the successful delivery of information literacy content. Librarians may:

  • Collaborate with faculty and department curriculum committees to integrate information literacy instruction into the curriculum and learning outcomes of the academic unit.
  • Provide consultative services to teaching faculty to develop research assignments.
  • Promote instruction in the use of library resources to students and faculty, integrating the tiered Library Information Literacy Curriculum.
  • 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.

The following information literacy knowledge practices and dispositions address all six frames of the ACRL Framework and are adapted to the learning environment at the University of Montana.

Table 1. Information Literacy Knowledge Practices





Identify   research questions; translate questions into keywords for searching

Critically   evaluate information: assess the reliability, validity, accuracy, authority,   timeliness, impact, and point or view or bias of information sources

Recognize   and Assess the value and distinctness of information resources (e.g., website   sources, online journals, print material)

Identify   key stakeholders who are interested in the topic and might produce   information

Construct   in-text citations and a bibliography, inclusive of all source types and   formats (e.g., articles, images, music; print, electronic)

Choose   and state a research topic; use research to refine topic

Manage   research with keyword and subject searching; broaden and narrow search   terms

Execute   both keyword and subject searches; execute revised searches to refine results

Trace   citation data back to original source 

Recognize   the ethical issues related to information access

Choose   the appropriate resources, sources, or investigative methods based on research   need

Combine   new and prior knowledge to create original scholarship

Recognize   the ways in which sources are utilized by different disciplines

Identify   gaps in research; compare and contrast research arguments, data, studies, and   methodologies

Identify   discipline-specific citation styles

Articulate   the difference between copyright (fair use, open access) and plagiarism

Identify   important associations, publications, and scholars in the discipline

Understand   the complexity of information production processes and organization

Apply   discipline-specific information resources and their organization and use

Use   advanced search strategies (e.g., use of controlled vocabularies, Boolean   operators, cited references)

Follow   ethical and legal guidelines when citing information




Table 2. Information Literacy Dispositions. 





Recognize   ethical, legal and social issues surrounding the use of information (e.g.,   academic freedom, right to privacy, free and fee-based information,   intellectual property)

Confer   with instructors and librarians about appropriate research topics,   information resources and search strategies

Value   the distinctness of information sources (e.g., popular, trade, and scholarly;   primary and secondary; current and historical, etc.)

Acknowledge   biases that may privilege some sources of authority over others

Understand   that intellectual property is a legal and social construct that varies by   culture and across time

Understand   and explain why there is usually not “one” source that will meet all   research needs

Recognize   different information sources and explain the value and differences between   them, including their scope, audience and intent (e.g., archival collections;   government information; popular, trade, and scholarly publications)

Recognize   his/her rights as a member of the academic community to freedom of   intellectual inquiry and inviolate privacy in accessing library collections   and services

Consider research an open-ended process

Combine,   relate, and reconcile new information with prior knowledge and beliefs

Recognize   the value of original scholarship; construct an original argument or position   based on research findings

Compare   the use of information sources by discipline and value diverse ideas and   worldviews

Recognize   that different disciplines have different citation styles and style   guidelines

Identify   important associations, publications, and scholars in the discipline; explain   the role of these resources in the discipline; explain the contributions of   individual scholars to the discipline

Explain   the economic, legal, political, and socio-economic impacts on information   access and use (e.g., censorship, constraints, costs, funded research,   policies, scholarship)

Describe   key discipline-specific information resources and how they are organized and   used

Persist   in information searches despite challenges



Works Consulted


Association of College and Research Libraries, Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Chicago: ALA, 2015. American Library Association. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <>


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. <