Information Literacy Standards

Standard #1 = Know
The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.

Standard #2 = Access
The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.

Standard #3 = Evaluate
The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.

Standard #4 = Use
The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.

Standard #5 = Ethical / Legal
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. This standard recognizes that students must be taught the social, economic and political issues surrounding information, specifically the ethical and legal uses of information and its technology.

Information Literacy for Faculty and Administrators

What Is Information Literacy?

There are many different definitions of information literacy, but perhaps the best succinct and comprehensive definition is:

  • Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” “Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.” American Library Association. 2006. ALA (Accessed 14 Feb, 2007).  American Library Association. Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report.(Chicago: American Library Association, 1989.)

A more comprehensive definition communicating the substance and breadth of information literacy is also useful. Jeremy J. Shapiro and Shelley K. Hughes provide a more detailed definition in their article “Information Literacy as a Liberal Art.” Briefly put, Shapiro and Hughes make the following major points in their definition:

  • In its narrowest sense, information literacy includes the practical skills involved in effective use of information technology and print or electronic information resources.
  • Information literacy is a new liberal art which extends beyond technical skills and is conceived as one’s critical reflection on the nature of information itself, its technical infrastructure and its social, cultural, and even philosophical context and impact.
  • The information literacy curriculum includes:
    • Tool literacy – The ability to use print and electronic resources including software.
    • Resource literacy – The ability to understand the form, format, location and access methods of information resources.
    • Social-structural literacy – Knowledge of how information is socially situated and produced. It includes understanding the scholarly publishing process.
    • Research literacy – The ability to understand and use information technology tools to carry out research, including discipline-related software.
    • Publishing literacy – The ability to produce a text or multimedia report of research results.


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