The Framework is a mechanism for guiding the development of information literacy programs within higher education institutions while also promoting discussion about the nature of key concepts in information in general education and disciplinary studies. The Framework encourages thinking about how librarians, faculty, and others can address core or portal concepts and associated elements in the information field within the context of higher education. The Framework will help librarians contextualize and integrate information literacy for their institutions and will encourage a deeper understanding of what knowledge practices and dispositions an information literate student should develop. The Framework redefines the boundaries of what librarians teach and how they conceptualize the study of information within the curricula of higher education institutions.
The Framework has been conceived as a set of living documents on which the profession will build. The key product is a set of frames, or lenses, through which to view information literacy, each of which includes a concept central to information literacy, knowledge practices, and dispositions. The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) encourages the library community to discuss the new Framework widely and to develop resources such as curriculum guides, concept maps, and assessment instruments to supplement the core set of materials in the frames.
As a first step, ACRL encourages librarians to read through the entire Framework and discuss the implications of this new approach for the information literacy program at their institution. Possibilities include convening a discussion among librarians at an institution or joining an online discussion of librarians. In addition, as one becomes familiar with the frames, consider discussing them with professionals in the institution’s center for teaching and learning, office of undergraduate education, or similar departments to see whether some synergies exist between this approach and other institutional curricular initiatives.
The frames can guide the redesign of information literacy programs for general education courses, for upper level courses in students’ major departments, and for graduate student education. The frames are intended to demonstrate the contrast in thinking between novice learner and expert in a specific area; movement may take place over the course of a student’s academic career. Mapping out in what way specific concepts will be integrated into specific curriculum levels is one of the challenges of implementing the Framework. ACRL encourages librarians to work with faculty, departmental or college curriculum committees, instructional designers, staff from centers for teaching and learning, and others to design information literacy programs in a holistic way.
ACRL realizes that many information literacy librarians currently meet with students via one-shot classes, especially in introductory level classes. Over the course of a student’s academic program, one-shot sessions that address a particular need at a particular time, systematically integrated into the curriculum, can play a significant role in an information literacy program. It is important for librarians and teaching faculty to understand that the Framework is not designed to be implemented in a single information literacy session in a student’s academic career; it is intended to be developmentally and systematically integrated into the student’s academic program at a variety of levels. This may take considerable time to implement fully in many institutions.
ACRL encourages information literacy librarians to be imaginative and innovative in implementing the Framework in their institution. The Framework is not intended to be prescriptive but to be used as a guidance document in shaping an institutional program. ACRL recommends piloting the implementation of the Framework in a context that is useful to a specific institution, assessing the results and sharing experiences with colleagues.
How to Use This Framework
- Read and reflect on the entire Framework document.
- Convene or join a group of librarians to discuss the implications of this approach to information literacy for your institution.
- Reach out to potential partners in your institution, such as departmental curriculum committees, centers for teaching and learning, or offices of undergraduate or graduate studies, to discuss how to implement the Framework in your institutional context.
- Using the Framework, pilot the development of information literacy sessions within a particular academic program in your institution, and assess and share the results with your colleagues.
- Share instructional materials with other information literacy librarians in the online repository developed by ACRL.
Considering Information Literacy
Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.
This Framework sets forth these information literacy concepts and describes how librarians as information professionals can facilitate the development of information literacy by postsecondary students.
Creating a Framework
ACRL has played a leading role in promoting information literacy in higher education for decades. The Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (Standards), first published in 2000, enabled colleges and universities to position information literacy as an essential learning outcome in the curriculum and promoted linkages with general education programs, service learning, problem-based learning, and other pedagogies focused on deeper learning. Regional accrediting bodies, the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), and various discipline-specific organizations employed and adapted the Standards.
It is time for a fresh look at information literacy, especially in light of changes in higher education, coupled with increasingly complex information ecosystems. To that end, an ACRL Task Force developed the Framework. The Framework seeks to address the great potential for information literacy as a deeper, more integrated learning agenda, addressing academic and technical courses, undergraduate research, community-based learning, and co-curricular learning experiences of entering freshman through graduation. The Framework focuses attention on the vital role of collaboration and its potential for increasing student understanding of the processes of knowledge creation and scholarship. The Framework also emphasizes student participation and creativity, highlighting the importance of these contributions.
The Framework is developed around a set of “frames,” which are those critical gateway or portal concepts through which students must pass to develop genuine expertise within a discipline, profession, or knowledge domain. Each frame includes a knowledge practices section used to demonstrate how the mastery of the concept leads to application in new situations and knowledge generation. Each frame also includes a set of dispositions that address the affective areas of learning.
A vital benefit in using threshold concepts as one of the underpinnings for the Framework is the potential for collaboration among disciplinary faculty, librarians, teaching and learning center staff, and others. Creating a community of conversations about this enlarged understanding should engender more collaboration, more innovative course designs, and a more inclusive consideration of learning within and beyond the classroom. Threshold concepts originated as faculty pedagogical research within disciplines. Because information literacy is both a disciplinary and a transdisciplinary learning agenda, using a conceptual framework for information literacy program planning, librarian-faculty collaboration, and student co-curricular projects can offer great potential for curricular enrichment and transformation. As a faculty member, you can take the following approaches:
- Investigate threshold concepts in your discipline and gain an understanding of the approach used in the Framework as it applies to the discipline you know.
— What are the specialized information skills in your discipline that students should develop, such as using primary sources (history) or accessing and managing large data sets (science)?
- Look for workshops at your campus teaching and learning center on the flipped classroom and consider how such practices could be incorporated into your courses.
— What information and research assignments can students do outside of class to arrive prepared to apply concepts and conduct collaborative projects?
- Partner with your IT department and librarians to develop new kinds of multimedia assignments for courses.
— What kinds of workshops and other services should be available for students involved in multimedia design and production?
- Help students view themselves as information producers, individually and collaboratively.
— In your program, how do students interact with, evaluate, produce, and share information in various formats and modes?
- Consider the knowledge practices and dispositions in each information literacy frame for possible integration into your own courses and academic program.
— How might you and a librarian design learning experiences and assignments that will encourage students to assess their own attitudes, strengths/weaknesses, and knowledge gaps related to information?
Through reading the Framework document and discussing it with your institutions’ librarians, you can begin to focus on the best mechanisms to implement the Framework in your institution. As an administrator, you can take the following approaches:
- Host or encourage a series of campus conversations about how the institution can incorporate the Framework into student learning outcomes and supporting curriculum
- Provide the resources to enhance faculty expertise and opportunities for understanding and incorporating the Framework into the curriculum
- Encourage committees working on planning documents related to teaching and learning (at the department, program, and institutional levels) to include concepts from the Framework in their work
- Provide resources to support a meaningful assessment of information literacy of students at various levels at your institution
- Promote partnerships between faculty, librarians, instructional designers, and others to develop meaningful ways for students to become content creators, especially in their disciplines
The Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education were published in 2000 and brought information literacy into higher education conversations and advanced our field. These, like all ACRL standards, are reviewed cyclically. In July 2011, ACRL appointed a Task Force to decide what, if anything, to do with the current Standards. In June 2012, that Task Force recommended that the current Standards be significantly revised. This previous review Task Force made recommendations that informed the current revision Task Force, formed in 2013, with the following charge:
to update the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education so they reflect the current thinking on such things as the creation and dissemination of knowledge, the changing global higher education and learning environment, the shift from information literacy to information fluency, and the expanding definition of information literacy to include multiple literacies, for example, transliteracy, media literacy, digital literacy, etc.
The Task Force released the first version of the Framework in two parts in February and April of 2014 and received comments via two online hearings and a feedback form available online for four weeks. The committee then revised the document, released the second draft on June 17, 2014, and sought extensive feedback through a feedback form, two online hearings, an in-person hearing, and analysis of social media and topical blog posts.
On a regular basis, the Task Force used all of ACRL’s and American Library Association’s (ALA) communication channels to reach individual members and ALA and ACRL units (committees, sections, round tables, ethnic caucuses, chapters, and divisions) with updates. The Task Force’s liaison at ACRL maintained a private e-mail distribution list of over 1,300 individuals who attended a fall, spring, or summer online forum; provided comments to the February, April, June, or November drafts; or were otherwise identified as having strong interest and expertise. This included members of the Task Force that drafted the Standards, leading Library Information Science (LIS) researchers and national project directors, members of the Information Literacy Rubric Development Team for the Association of American Colleges & Universities, and Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education initiative. Via all these channels, the Task Force regularly shared updates, invited discussion at virtual and in-person forums and hearings, and encouraged comments on public drafts of the proposed Framework.
ACRL recognized early on that the effect of any changes to the Standards would be significant within the library profession and in higher education more broadly. In addition to general announcements, the Task Force contacted nearly 60 researchers who cited the Standards in publications outside LIS literature, more than 70 deans, associate deans, directors or chairs of LIS schools, and invited specific staff leaders (and press or communications contacts) at more than 70 other higher education associations, accrediting agencies, and library associations and consortia to encourage their members to read and comment on the draft.
The Task Force systematically reviewed feedback from the first and second drafts of the Framework, including comments, criticism, and praise provided through formal and informal channels. The three official online feedback forms had 562 responses; numerous direct e-mails were sent to members of the Task Force. The group was proactive in tracking feedback on social media, namely blog posts and Twitter. While the data harvested from social media are not exhaustive, the Task Force made its best efforts to include all known Twitter conversations, blog posts, and blog commentary. In total, there were several hundred feedback documents, totaling over a thousand pages, under review. The content of these documents was analyzed by members of the Task Force and coded using HyperResearch, a qualitative data analysis software. During the drafting and vetting process, the Task Force provided more detail on the feedback analysis in an online FAQ document.
The Task Force continued to revise the document and published the third revision in November 2014, again announcing broadly and seeking comments via a feedback form.
As of November 2014, the Task Force members included the following:
- Craig Gibson, Professor, Ohio State University Libraries (Co-chair)
- Trudi E. Jacobson, Distinguished Librarian and Head, Information Literacy Department, University at Albany, SUNY, University Libraries (Co-chair)
- Elizabeth Berman, Science and Engineering Librarian, University of Vermont (Member)
- Carl O. DiNardo, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Library Instruction/Science Librarian, Eckerd College (Member)
- Lesley S. J. Farmer, Professor, California State University–Long Beach (Member)
- Ellie A. Fogarty, Vice President, Middle States Commission on Higher Education (Member)
- Diane M. Fulkerson, Social Sciences and Education Librarian, University of South Florida in Lakeland (Member)
- Merinda Kaye Hensley, Instructional Services Librarian and Scholarly Commons Co-coordinator, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Member)
- Joan K. Lippincott, Associate Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information (Member)
- Michelle S. Millet, Library Director, John Carroll University (Member)
- Troy Swanson, Teaching and Learning Librarian, Moraine Valley Community College (Member)
- Lori Townsend, Data Librarian for Social Sciences and Humanities, University of New Mexico (Member)
- Julie Ann Garrison, Associate Dean of Research and Instructional Services, Grand Valley State University (Board Liaison)
- Kate Ganski, Library Instruction Coordinator, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (Visiting Program Officer, from September 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014)
- Kara Malenfant, Senior Strategist for Special Initiatives, Association of College and Research Libraries (Staff Liaison)
In December 2014, the Task Force made final changes. Two other ACRL groups reviewed and provided feedback on the final drafts: the ACRL Information Literacy Standards Committee and the ACRL Standards Committee. The latter group submitted the final document and recommendations to the ACRL Board for its review at the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.
Note: On February 2, 2015, at the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting, the ACRL Board took the official action of ‘filing’ the Framework document, in accordance with parliamentary procedure. This allows it to be changed without needing Board approval, in order to foster its intended flexibility and development.
The following sources are suggested readings for those who want to learn more about the ideas underpinning the Framework, especially the use of threshold concepts and related pedagogical models. Some readings here also explore other models for information literacy, discuss students’ challenges with information literacy, or offer examples of assessment of threshold concepts. Landmark works on threshold concept theory and research on this list are the edited volumes by Meyer, Land, and Baillie (Threshold Concepts and Transformational Learning) and by Meyer and Land (Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practicing within the Disciplines). In addition, numerous research articles, conference papers, reports, and presentations on threshold concepts are cited on the regularly updated website Threshold Concepts: Undergraduate Teaching, Postgraduate Training, and Professional Development; A Short Introduction and Bibliography, available at http://www.ee.ucl.ac.uk/~mflanaga/thresholds.html.
ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards Review Task Force. “Task Force Recommendations.” ACRL AC12 Doc 13.1, June 2, 2012. http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/standards/ils_recomm.pdf.
American Association for School Librarians. Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Chicago: American Library Association, 2007. http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/guidelinesandstandards/learningstandards/AASL_LearningStandards.pdf.
Blackmore, Margaret. “Student Engagement with Information: Applying a Threshold Concept Approach to Information Literacy Development.” Paper presented at the 3rd Biennial Threshold Concepts Symposium: Exploring Transformative Dimensions of Threshold Concepts, Sydney, Australia, July 1–2, 2010.
Carmichael, Patrick. “Tribes, Territories, and Threshold Concepts: Educational Materialisms at Work in Higher Education.” Educational Philosophy and Theory 44, no. S1 (2012): 31–42.
Coonan, Emma. A New Curriculum for Information Literacy: Teaching Learning; Perceptions of Information Literacy. Arcadia Project, Cambridge University Library, July 2011. http://ccfil.pbworks.com/f/emma_report_final.pdf.
Cousin, Glynis. "An Introduction to Threshold Concepts." Planet 17 (December 2006): 4–5.
———. “Threshold Concepts, Troublesome Knowledge and Emotional Capital: An Exploration into Learning about Others.” In Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding: Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge, edited by Jan H. F. Meyer and Ray Land, 134–47. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.
Gibson, Craig, and Trudi Jacobson. “Informing and Extending the Draft ACRL Information Literacy Framework for Higher Education: An Overview and Avenues for Research.” College and Research Libraries 75, no. 3 (May 2014): 250–4.
Head, Alison J. “Project Information Literacy: What Can Be Learned about the Information-Seeking Behavior of Today’s College Students?” Paper presented at the ACRL National Conference, Indianapolis, IN, April 10–13, 2013.
Hofer, Amy R., Lori Townsend, and Korey Brunetti. “Troublesome Concepts and Information Literacy: Investigating Threshold Concepts for IL Instruction.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 12, no. 4 (2012): 387–405.
Jacobson, Trudi E., and Thomas P. Mackey. “Proposing a Metaliteracy Model to Redefine Information Literacy.” Communications in Information Literacy 7, no. 2 (2013): 84–91.
Kuhlthau, Carol C. “Rethinking the 2000 ACRL Standards: Some Things to Consider.” Communications in Information Literacy 7, no. 3 (2013): 92–7.
———. Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Information Services. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2004.
Limberg, Louise, Mikael Alexandersson, Annika Lantz-Andersson, and Lena Folkesson. “What Matters? Shaping Meaningful Learning through Teaching Information Literacy.” Libri 58, no. 2 (2008): 82–91.
Lloyd, Annemaree. Information Literacy Landscapes: Information Literacy in Education, Workplace and Everyday Contexts. Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2010.
Lupton, Mandy Jean. The Learning Connection: Information Literacy and the Student Experience. Blackwood: South Australia: Auslib Press, 2004.
Mackey, Thomas P., and Trudi E. Jacobson. Metaliteracy: Reinventing Information Literacy to Empower Learners. Chicago: Neal-Schuman, 2014.
Martin, Justine. “Refreshing Information Literacy.” Communications in Information Literacy 7, no. 2 (2013): 114–27.
Meyer, Jan, and Ray Land. Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practicing within the Disciplines. Edinburgh, UK: University of Edinburgh, 2003.
Meyer, Jan H. F., Ray Land, and Caroline Baillie. “Editors’ Preface.” In Threshold Concepts and Transformational Learning, edited by Jan H. F. Meyer, Ray Land, and Caroline Baillie, ix–xlii. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers, 2010.
Middendorf, Joan, and David Pace. “Decoding the Disciplines: A Model for Helping Students Learn Disciplinary Ways of Thinking.” New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no. 98 (2004): 1–12.
Oakleaf, Megan. “A Roadmap for Assessing Student Learning Using the New Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 40, no. 5 (September 2014): 510–4.
Secker, Jane. A New Curriculum for Information Literacy: Expert Consultation Report. Arcadia Project, Cambridge University Library, July 2011. http://ccfil.pbworks.com/f/Expert_report_final.pdf.
Townsend, Lori, Korey Brunetti, and Amy R. Hofer. “Threshold Concepts and Information Literacy.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 11, no. 3 (2011): 853–69.
Tucker, Virginia, Christine Bruce, Sylvia Edwards, and Judith Weedman. “Learning Portals: Analyzing Threshold Concept Theory for LIS Education.” Journal of Education for Library and Information Science 55, no. 2 (2014): 150–65.
Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2004.