• Prompt Literacy
  • Technology Infusion in Teacher Preparation
  • Open Recognition
  • Call for Proposals
  • Help-seeking
  • Online Mentoring
  • Creative Commons Licenses
  • Information Literacy
  • Flipped Classroom
  • Editor's Working Documents
  • Author Working Sheet
  • About the Encyclopedia
  • Abbreviations
  • Academic Communities of Engagement (ACE) Framework
  • Augmented Reality
  • Blended Teaching
  • Cognitive Load Theory
  • Emergency Remote Teaching
  • Decision-based Learning
  • Makerspaces
  • Microcredentials
  • Microlearning
  • Open Educational Practices
  • Open Educational Resources
  • Open Pedagogy
  • Personalized Learning
  • Phenomenology
  • Professional Learning Networks
  • Q Methodology
  • RAT
  • Self-Efficacy
  • Technocentrism
  • Translations
  • Information Literacy

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    Information LiteracyResearchMisinformationInformation SystemsSource Evaluation
    Recent information studies literature defines information literacy as a set of abilities that enables an individual to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. Various library organizations have developed theories on information literacy, but everyone has a responsibility to learn and teach information literacy skills.

    What is Information Literacy?

    Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities and dispositions encompassing the understanding of how information systems function, the reflective discovery of information, and the use of information in sharing and creating new knowledge so as to participate wisely in a variety of settings. An information literate person will display a critical understanding of how information systems function and will wisely and intentionally participate in those systems as they consume, create, and share information to strengthen and serve professional, religious, family, and civic communities.

    Information Literacy is not a new concept, and its importance is ever-growing in today’s information landscape. Information literacy was first introduced by Zurkowski (1974) in a workforce context. Soon, though, the idea was adopted by academia and policy-making organizations. In 1989, the American Library Association (ALA) declared that “to be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” Although the terminology “information literacy” may not be familiar to all, the concepts are embedded in many disciplines. According to ALA (2000), “[i]nformation literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education” (p. 2). Visual literacy, data literacy, science literacy, and media literacy are just a few examples of related concepts that fall under the umbrella of information literacy.

    The Association of College & Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education were released in 2000. These standards state that an the information literate student

    These standards approached information literacy as a set of skills, which are easy to assess. Other theories of information literacy, though, approach it as not only a set of skills but a way of thinking and a social practice (Addison & Meyers, 2013; Sample, 2020).

    UNESCO’s Prague Declaration: Towards an Information Literate Society (2003), described information literacy as “a prerequisite for participating effectively in the Information Society and part of the basic human right of lifelong learning.” Information literacy as a social practice includes access to information (including government information) as a human/civil right (Appedu & Hensley, 2022; Flornes, 2017; Henninger, 2017; Sturges & Gastinger, 2010); information as both accessible and discoverable (Henninger, 2017); and to be taught Information Literacies is a Human Right (Appedu & Hensley, 2022; Henninger, 2017; Sturges & Gastinger, 2010).

    A competing theory to information literacy is the concept of metaliteracy introduced by Mackey and Jacobson (2011) in their article “Reframing Information Literacy as Metaliteracy.” According to the Metaliteracy website, it “is a pedagogical model that empowers learners to be reflective and informed producers of information both individually and in collaboration with others.”

    In 2015, however, ACRL released a Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education, which describes threshold concepts, knowledge practices, and dispositions associated with information literacy. The Framework is based on a Delphi Study related to threshold concepts and incorporates some of the concepts of metaliteracy. In fact, Jacobsen was a member of the task force to develop the Framework.

    The 6 Frames of the New Framework

    Information has value.

    Authority is constructed and contextual.

    Searching as strategic exploration.

    Research as inquiry.

    Information creation as a process.

    Scholarship as conversation.

    Figure 1

    Academic Libraries and Technology

    The 6 frames of the new framework comprises, information has value, authority is constructed and contextual, searching as strategic exploration, research as inquiry, information creation as a process, and scholarship as conversation.
    Burress, T., Clark, M., Hernandez, S., & Myhill, N. (2015, June 25-30). Wikipedia: Teaching Metaliteracy in the Digital Landscape [Poster session]. ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition, San Francisco, CA, United States. Li nk

    Many instructors still use the older Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education adopted in 2000. However, ACRL sets the standard for information literacy instruction in higher education, and educators working in K-12 can design their instruction on similar lines to provide learners with consistent concepts related to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

    Why is it important?

    People are immersed in a constantly changing information landscape: AI, “fake news,” a “post-truth” world. They often struggle to discern fact from fiction and feel unsure how to navigate the overload of information they face. Information literacy is a discipline dedicated to educating people on the importance of wisely exploring, using, sharing, and creating information. The end goal is to help people become lifelong learners and ethical global citizens.

    Who is responsible for teaching information literacy?

    Information literacy is not simply the domain of information literacy professionals, such as librarians. Information literacy instruction is the responsibility of educators, librarians, and citizens alike and should be found in libraries, schools, universities, museums, the media, publishers, theaters, and the cinema, among others. In short, everyone has a responsibility to learn and teach information literacy.

    What does information literacy instruction look like?

    Information literacy instruction can come in many forms, but the curriculum should focus on how to find, evaluate, and use information. The ACRL Framework should guide the instruction content, which could include the SIFT method of evaluating sources. This method, developed by digital literacy expert Mike Caulfield, involves four steps: Stop, Investigate the source, Find better coverage, and Trace the information back to a primary source. To help learners find better coverage, you can teach them how to read laterally by reading what other websites say about a source to verify information, identify potential biases, and determine an author’s purpose. To help learners trace the information to a primary source, you can teach them how to go upstream by checking the references in a source. On a website, it would mean clicking on embedded links, reading those sources, and clicking on their embedded links until you find a primary source.

    Figure 2

    The Four Steps: SIFT

    the four steps figure includes, Stop, Investigate the source, Find better coverage, and Trace the information back to a primary source.
    Caulfield, M. (2019). Sift: The Four Moves [Online image]. Hapgood. Link

    The SIFT method is more effective than the outdated CRAAP test (currency, relevancy, authority, accuracy, and purpose) that used to be taught as the primary way to evaluate sources. SIFT encourages looking beyond the source to verify and contextualize information.

    Key terms to use and define in information literacy instruction

    Related Literacies

    Other literacies are also important for navigating the modern world. These literacies include but are not limited to the following.

    For more information

    The Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education contains professional standards for identifying the threshold concepts, knowledge practices, and dispositions of information literate individuals in higher education.

    Project Information Literacy (PIL), a nonprofit research institute, conducts ongoing national studies on information use throughout higher education.

    Brigham Young University’s Information Literacy website contains content on learning more about information literacy, as well as resources for teaching and assessing information literacy in the classroom.

    For teaching support

    The Civic Online Reasoning curriculum developed by the Stanford History Education Group provides educators with single lesson plans or a full curriculum for teaching information and civic literacy.

    In partnership with MediaWise, the Poynter Institute, and the Stanford History Education Group, John Green’s Crash Course series teaches learners how to navigate the internet using information literacy techniques.


    About. (2013, January 24). https://metaliteracy.org/about/

    Addison, C., & Meyers, E. (2013). Perspectives on information literacy: A framework for conceptual understanding. Information research: An international electronic journal, 18(3).

    Appedu, S., & Hensley, M. K. (2022). Problematizing the role of information literacy in disinformation, dialogue, and the healing of democracy. LOEX Quarterly, 47(4).

    Association of College and Research Libraries. (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Chicago, IL: American Library Association. https://alair.ala.org/bitstream/handle/11213/7668/ACRL%20Information%20Literacy%20Competency%20Standards%20for%20Higher%20Education.pdf

    Flornes, K. (2017). Promoting civic literacy in teacher education: a framework for personal and professional development. Media and Information Literacy in Higher Education (pp. 37-50).

    Framework for information literacy for higher education. (2015, February 9). Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). Retrieved Oct 27, 2023, from https://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework

    Henninger, M. (2021). Information literacy: Importance and consequences. Philippine journal of librarianship and information studies, 41(2), 3-12.

    Information Literacy Meeting of Experts. The Prague declaration: "Towards an information literate society.” (2003). https://ar.unesco.org/sites/default/files/praguedeclaration.pdf

    LibGuides: Evaluating information: Information literacy. (2022, June 27). American Library Association. Retrieved Oct 27, 2023, from https://libguides.ala.org/InformationEvaluation/Infolit

    Mackey, T. P., & Jacobson, T. E. (2011). Reframing information literacy as a metaliteracy. College & research libraries, 72(1), 62-78.

    Sample, A. (2020). Historical development of definitions of information literacy: A literature review of selected resources. The journal of academic librarianship, 46(2), 102-116.

    Sturges, P. & Gastinger, A. (2010). Information literacy as a human right. Libri, 60(3), 195-202. https://doi.org/10.1515/libr.2010.017

    Zurkowski, P. G. (1974). The information service environment relationships and priorities. Related paper no. 5.

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