Academic journal article Fontes Artis Musicae

Reframing the Framework: Situated Information Literacy in the Music Classroom

Academic journal article Fontes Artis Musicae

Reframing the Framework: Situated Information Literacy in the Music Classroom

Article excerpt

"The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy"-bell hooks (1)


Perhaps the story of your introduction to information literacy is similar to mine. It begins with some confusion: "Information literacy? What is that, exactly"? After a course or two in library school on teaching or on information literacy (if you are lucky), you are thrown into the trenches of your early professional career. Then, in fifty-minute spurts, you must attempt to engage bored undergraduates in the finer points of keyword searching and Boolean logic, all in the name of this thing called "information literacy". As your confidence and experience grow, you realise that teaching can be immensely rewarding, even fun, and that information literacy is a complex and multi-faceted concept that encompasses far more than simply training in library search skills.

However, a vague sense of unease remains. "What am I doing with my time in the classroom? Am I really being as effective as I can be? And why does it feel like I am reinventing the wheel every time I teach a class"? My own unease coalesced into realisation, and then transformation in my teaching practises, as I developed a deeper familiarity with the literature on information literacy, as well as a better understanding of the legacy of national guidelines issued by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). In what follows, I present an approach to information literacy instruction that enables music librarians to effectively engage with disciplinary faculty, use our own subject expertise to the fullest extent, and more readily grapple with changing national standards and guidelines.

The Standards and the Framework

ACRL's Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (the Standards) represents the organisation's first attempt at national information literacy standards, and were approved by the ACRL Board in 2000. As presented in the Standards, information literacy is a response to the pressing challenges of the "Information Age" and the subsequent need to prepare students for employment in a new, knowledge-based economy (2). Explicitly designed as an assessment tool, the Standards consist of five clearly defined standards for the information literate student, along with accompanying outcomes that can be used to measure a student's progress in meeting each standard (3). Although the Standards emphasise the need for effective information literacy instruction to be integrated into the curriculum, they are designed to be applicable across all disciplines. The Music Library Association (MLA) released its own response to the Standards, the "Information Literacy Objectives for Undergraduate Music Students", in 2005. MLA's standards are identical in content to the ACRL Standards but include additional, discipline-specific outcomes (4).

In 2016, the Standards were replaced by the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (the Framework) (5). The Framework represents an attempt to address the myriad changes to the information landscape and higher education since the Standards were first released. It draws upon many recent trends in information literacy, including the concepts of metaliteracy and metacognition, and the instructional design process developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (6). Central to the Framework, however, are threshold concepts, "ideas that in any discipline are passageways or portals to enlarged understanding or ways of thinking and practising within that discipline" (7). Building upon the idea of threshold concepts for the discipline of information literacy, each of the six frames in the Framework represents a "concept central to information literacy" (8).

The Framework is a fundamentally different document from the Standards. A "cluster of interconnected core concepts, with flexible options for implementation" (9), it is not a list of skills or competencies, nor was it designed as an assessment tool. …

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