Tools For Planning Information Literacy

If your department is beginning to think about an information literacy plan, you may wish to center the initial discussion with your liaison librarian around the following questions.

  • What does information literacy mean to you and to your discipline?
  • Information literacy is a process. Therefore how can you delineate that process? How is the process different for scholars/professionals and students?
  • Are information technology skills a part of information literacy? How?
  • Are there specific sources or tools that students should be familiar with as graduates of your program? When (as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors) should they learn
    • a) what are these tools or sources, and
    • b) how to use them?
  • Does your discipline use a specific style manual, especially for citing references? What is it? When should students learn about it? Who should teach that?
  • How do you evaluate and think critically about information? Are the criteria the same for students? Who will teach them, and how?
  • Do students in your program generate new knowledge? When (at what level)? How do they "publish"--via student scholarship day, papers in journals, conferences, etc.?
  • What does "wise or ethical" use of information entail? How and when will students learn this?

Faculty can improve student learning by encouraging students to explore and analyze concepts creatively. We also can use an awareness of the principles of information literacy as a metacognitive strategy to manage our own learning. We can determine more clearly where these principles fit within the process at any given moment—whether accessing, evaluating, or using a particular piece of information—and whether the students need to return to some prior point, even to reframing the research question and then retracing their steps with a different breadth or depth.

Here are some examples of information literacy concepts that faculty can adapt to their courses.

Universal Concepts
  • What is information?
  • Why is information produced? Why is information sought?
  • Evaluating quality of information
  • Authority
  • Currency
  • Purpose
  • Appropriateness
  • Values and issues regarding information
  • Privacy
  • Ethical/unethical uses of information
  • Citing—acknowledging others’ work
  • Applications of Information
  • Personal
  • Professional
  • Civic
Introductory Concepts in Scholarly Inquiry
  • Who produces information?
  • What formats does it come in?
  • What are the timelines for the various forms of publications?
  • How is information organized
    • Classification systems
    • Indexes
    • Format
    • Web/Internet
  • Basic scholarly tools
    • Bibliographies
    • Indexes
    • Web/Internet
    • Primary/Secondary Sources
    • Library Services
  • Evaluating quality of information
    • Authority
    • Currency
    • Purpose
    • Appropriateness
    • Web/Internet
  • Citing—acknowledging others’ work
More Advanced Concepts in Scholarly Inquiry
  • Recognize and articulate information need
  • Define research question
  • Identify key words and concepts
  • Formulate a search strategy
    • Where is information most likely to be found? (books, newspapers, journal articles, Ineternet, etc.)
    • What catalogs/indexes/databases are most likely to have the information?
    • What words should be searched? Subject Headings /subjects/descriptors
    • How should electronic search statements be constructed using Boolean operators and other electronic options?
  • Evaluating quality of information
    • Authority
    • Currency
    • Purpose
    • Appropriateness
    • Web/Internet (special situations)
  • Evaluate results and refocus search if necessary
Subject Specific Concepts and Resources
  • Concepts related to individual subject areas:
    • Who produces the information in this discipline?
    • What forms of information are most often used in this discipline (monograph, trade publications, academic journal articles, pre- publications)?
    • What are the major associations or groups of this discipline?
  • Subject-specific resources:
    • Print
    • Electronic
    • Importance of original research
    • Style Guide(s)