Raising the Bar for Information Literacy

By Gregory, Gwen M. | Information Today, February 2007 | Go to article overview

Raising the Bar for Information Literacy


Gregory, Gwen M., Information Today


Raising the Bar for Information Literacy by GWEN M. GREGORY Information Literacy Assessment: Standards-Based Tools and Assignments by Teresa Y. Neely Chicago: ALA, 2006 ISBN: 9780838909140 $40 216 pages

If you are an academic librarian, you are probably acquainted with the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlstandards/ informationliteracycompetency.htm).

Published in 2000, these standards, which took years to develop, represent the complex set of information literacy skills that college students may develop during their education. The standards also form a framework where librarians, faculty, and others can develop their institution's own information literacy program. However, these standards can be quite formidable when you first read through them. How do you incorporate them into your own program or determine if your students "get it"? Teresa Neely's book will help you develop your own tests to find out.

The Voice of Experience

Neely, an experienced librarian, has designed and implemented several instruction programs. As part of her dissertation research in 2000, she studied information literacy and later published Sociological and Psychological Aspects of Information Literacy in Higher Education (Scarecrow Press, 2002). Today, Neely is director of the Zimmerman Library at The University of New Mexico. Prior to that, she led the information literacy effort at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). She also wrote or co-wrote most of the chapters in Information Literacy Assessment: Standards-Based Tools and Assignments; the other contributors are her former colleagues from UMBC.

Neely notes "most websites and published literature focused on and offered tips for creating good assignments." This book focuses on assessment, so we are given examples of assignments. There are many sample test questions to evaluate information literacy.

The book begins with an introduction to the ACRL standards. The five basic standards follow:

* The information-literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.

* The information-literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.

* The information-literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledgebase and value system.

* The information-literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.

* The information-literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.

In the official ACRL format, each of these standards is expanded with performance indicators and desired outcomes. Neely introduces an example of how these standards may be integrated into a course, especially when developing assignments. …

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