What is Information Literacy?

In its most basic terms, information literacy is the ability to know when there is a need for information, to identify, find, retrieve, evaluate, and use the needed information effectively and ethically.

With the continued growth of information sources, it's obvious that college students cannot learn everything they need to know about their field of study during a few years of college. They must also develop the critical skills they need to become independent, lifelong learners, to continue learning in their field of study over time. As ACRL (Assoc. of College & Research Libraries) notes:

"... information literate people are those who have learned how to learn. They know how to learn because they know how knowledge is organized, how to find information, and how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them. They are people prepared for lifelong learning, because they can always find the information needed for any task or decision at hand."

"Introduction to Information Literacy", American Library Association, July 27, 2006. http://www.ala.org/acrl/issues/infolit/overview/intro (Accessed April 23, 2012) Document ID: 918d8179-b8dc-d1c4-8930-59dfa5b1626c

Project Information Literacy (PIL), an ongoing research project from the U of Washington's iSchool, is collecting data from early adults enrolled in community colleges and public and private colleges and universities across the U.S. They have created a number of engaging videos about their findings, available on the PIL YouTube channel.

Information Literacy Rubrics & Curriculum Map

The following are all resources faculty and librarians may use when assessing student information literacy outcomes.


Traditionally, the term paper or research paper has been the most often used method of evaluating whether or not students can successfully apply information-seeking skills, but there are many alternatives to term papers that are just as (if not more) effective. The following list includes links to websites or articles that discuss alternatives to term papers for developing students' information literacy skills. Contact your library liaison for help or suggestions in designing assignments to develop students' information use skills.

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Information Literacy at Andruss Library

The goals of the Andruss Library Outcomes Assessment & Information Literacy Committee are three:

  •  To align the Library's educational mission with the institutional mission and vision
  •  To support academic departments in teaching students to “find, evaluate, and ethically use information using the appropriate technology” which is one of the proposed Bloomsburg University General Education Outcomes
  •  To enable students to become active lifelong learners through information literacy instruction in a variety of settings and contexts

Information Literacy For...

Practical resources answering many of students' questions about identifying, finding, evaluating, and using information effectively. Students are also encouraged to contact the librarian for their discipline for help with their information search process.

Information literacy is an important student outcome recognized by most accrediting bodies and professional organizations, including the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). How can faculty integrate the teaching of information literacy or information competency into their programs and courses? Following are some Library web sites and external sites that may be helpful. You may contact your liaison librarian for assistance in selecting information literacy outcomes suitable to your program or course objectives.

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Teaching Journals

Click on the tabs to view journal lists by broad subject, available from Andruss Library, with ideas for teaching information literacy/critical thinking skills, including some for specific disciplines. Please let your liaison know of others that should be on this list.

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Further Reading

  • Bennett, S., & Maton, K. (2010). Beyond the ‘digital natives’ debate: Towards a more nuanced understanding of students' technology experiences. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 26( 5), 321-331, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00360.x
  • Freeman, E., & Lynd-Balta, E. (2010). Developing information literacy skills early in an undergraduate curriculum. College Teaching, 58(3), 109-115,doi: 10.1080/87567550903521272
  • McGuinness, C. (2006). What faculty think: Exploring the barriers to information literacy development in undergraduate education. Journal of Academic Librarianship 32(6): 573-582, doi: 10.1016/j.acalib.2006.06.002

Andruss Library Outcomes Assessment and Information Literacy Reports

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