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Information Literacy: Information Literacy

Information literacy is the ability to locate, evaluate and use information wisely. Information literacy is at the core of what it means to be educated in this century. (Kuhlthau, 2008)

Designing Assignments

Library assignments can be an effective way to assist students in learning information literacy skills. Websites with suggestions on incorporating information literacy skills into assignments are listed below.

You can contact the Reference & Instruction Librarian to discuss your interests in incorporating information literacy skills in your course. Together we can identify specific outcomes, how they can be addressed, and the appropriate librarian to work with you.

Resources for Designing Assignments

Fister, B. (2001). Reintroducing students to good research. Retrieved June 26, 2008.

King’s College D. Leonard Corgan Library. (n.d.). Term paper alternatives: Ideas for information-based assignments. Retrieved June 26, 2008.

What is it...?

What is Information Literacy?

"The beginning of the 21st century has been called the Information Age because of the explosion of information output and information sources. It has become increasingly clear that students cannot learn everything they need to know in their field of study in a few years of college. Information literacy equips them with the critical skills necessary to become independent lifelong learners" (Introduction to Information Literacy). Information literacy implies becoming "critical consumers of information to avoid overload and to develop new intellectual skills in order to manage information effectively and transform it into usable knowledge" (Martin & Williamson, 2003).

The essential skills that define an information literate person, as identified by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), include the ability to:

  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one's knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally

For a more extensive listing of performance indicators and suggested student outcomes for each of these abilities see the Information Literacy Competency Standards developed by ACRL.

The ACRL information literacy standards are incorporated into the accreditation standards adopted by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The MSCHE publication, Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education states "information literacy is an essential component of any educational program at the graduate or undergraduate levels." Standards 11 and 12 state specific information literacy requirements for institutional accreditation, including a demonstration of "collaboration among professional library staff, faculty and administrators in fostering information literacy" and "evidence of articulated...information literacy... expectations of student learning outcomes."


College students eager to learn but need help negotiating information overload

Dr. Alison J. Head and Dr. Michael B. Eisenberg, research scientists in the University of Washington's Information School, argue that colleges must retool to help young people learn the skills to negotiate the vast amount of information at their disposal.