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Information Literacy

How to introduce information literacy and library skills into your classroom

What is Information Literacy?

Information literacy is defined in the library community as recognizing when information is needed and having the ability to locate, evaluate, and effectively use the needed information.

Students are "familiar with search engines, such as Google. Students have ideas about where to find information and how to access it, even if it is not always correct" (Brooks, 2013, p. 41). Students often feel that they are strong researchers already, capable of locating sources online. They strongly dislike information literacy instruction unless it is tied to a direct need, such as an assignment.

How can we improve student outcomes?

"Importantly, the results suggest that active ILI [information literacy instruction] has a direct effect on yielding positive student learning outcomes, which passive ILI does not. Specifically, active ILI yields: the psychological outcomes of decreased anxiety/increased self-efficacy using online library resources, improved perceptions of online library resources, and improved perception of librarians in terms of helpfulness and value; the behavioral outcome of improved use of librarians; and the benefit outcomes of time savings and effort reduction in finding information" (Detlor, Booker, Serenko, & Julien, 2012, p. 156). 

Instruction from the part of the library needs to include active learning whenever possible. This means steering away from presentations providing students with an overview of the library's resources. 

"Students need to see curiosity modeled for them over and over. They need to hear the research process described in terms of learning and exploration at every stage" (Deitering & Gascho, 2017). 

Teaching faculty need to reinforce the importance of information literacy in their classrooms regularly, through assignments and discussions which inspire creativity and prompt intellectual curiosity. 

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) suggests using the Framework to develop instruction and assignments. 

What is the ACRL Framework?

“The Framework opens the way for librarians, faculty, and other partners to redesign instruction sessions, assignments, courses, and even curricula; to connect information literacy with students success initiatives; to collaborate on pedagogical research and involve students themselves with that research; and to create wider conversations about student learning, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and the assessment of learning on local campuses and beyond.” ("Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education", American Library Association, p. 3, February 9, 2015. Accessed 25-5-18).


Brooks, A. (2013). Maximizing one shot impact: Using pre-test responses in the information literacy classroom. The Southeastern Librarian, 61(1), 41-43.

Deitering, A., & Gascho Rempel, H. (2017). Sparking curiosity – librarians’ role in encouraging exploration. In the Library with the Lead Pipe, Retrieved from

Detlor, B., Booker, L., Serenko, A., & Julien, H. (2012). Student perceptions of information literacy instruction: The importance of active learning. Education for Information, 29(2), 147-161. doi:10.3233/EFI-2012-0924

Kim, S. U., & Shumaker, D. (2015). Student, librarian, and instructor perceptions of information literacy instruction and skills in a first year experience program: A case study. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(4), 449-456. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2015.04.005