Tips for Developing Framework Companion Documents

Information Literacy Frameworks & Standards Committee
Association of College and Research Libraries
Approved June 26, 2016, Revised February 2020

This Tip Sheet provides general guidance for the required structure of Framework Companion Documents and outlines the recommended process for creating such documents, including involvement of faculty and/or associations; gathering comments; resolving conflicting suggestions; obtaining approval from the ACRL Information Literacy Frameworks and Standards Committee (ILFSC), ACRL Standards Committee (SC), and ACRL Board; and seeking endorsement from other interested professional organizations.

This Tip Sheet is intended to provide flexibility and to reduce ambiguity and confusion about procedures, improve the efficiency in the process for all involved, and provide consistency among and credibility for the final products created by various ACRL units. It is important to note that groups wishing to update their documents should address their needs in a format most appropriate to their discipline.

This document is organized in three sections: Guidelines for Framework Companion Documents; Procedures; and Document Structure. This Tip Sheet will be maintained by the ILFSC, a subcommittee of the Standards Committee.

1. Guidelines for Subject-Specific Framework Companion Documents

A. Relationship to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education

In an introductory statement, the companion documents should address the relationship between the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education and the companion document.

B. Relationship to Learning Standards

The companion document should also articulate a relationship with any learning standards and values that the discipline may have. The companion documents should be placed in context of the discipline’s dialogue on teaching and learning issues, as well as efforts toward ensuring equity, diversity, and inclusion.

C. Role of the ACRL Information Literacy Frameworks and Standards Committee

As the first step in the development of the Framework Companion Documents, the ACRL unit will notify the ACRL ILFSC of their intention. The ILFSC will appoint a committee member to serve as a liaison to the ACRL unit.

Upon completion of the draft document, the ACRL unit will send the document to the ILFSC to conduct a review of the document. The ILFSC will provide any comments to the ACRL unit to consider for possible changes before the document is submitted to the SC for review and transmittal to the ACRL Board for official approval.

D. Role of the ILFSC liaison

Members of the ILFSC are assigned as liaisons to ACRL units developing information literacy framework documents or standards. The liaisons convey information regarding ILFSC and/or SC policies, respond to questions, attend meetings of the committee or section (as needed), and provide support through the process of preparation or review of the document. ILFSC liaisons may contact the ILFSC and/or SC chair as needed for additional guidance.

E. Role of ACRL Standards Committee

The Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education and any companion documents are conceptual structures for learning and teaching rather than standards for the profession. As such, the SC review of companion documents pertains to the non-content editorial reviews and process used to develop the documents, not to the content of the documents themselves. The SC receives the companion document and comments from the ILFSC and submits their recommended actions to the ACRL Board, ILFSC, and the ACRL unit that created the document.

F. Role of ACRL Board

ACRL Board reviews the recommendations from the SC and the ILFSC and makes the official decision whether to approve the companion document.

2. Document Structure

Companion documents should be drafted in a manner that articulates the relationship between the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education and any other relevant documents and language from within the discipline.

A Framework Companion Document should:

●      Include an introduction and/or appendix that generally describes:              

○     scope and purpose of the document

○     disciplines and fields of study addressed

○     students addressed (e.g., undergraduates, distance learners, etc.)

○     intended audience for the document

○     strategies for connecting with discipline-specific work around equity, diversity, and inclusion

○     relationship of the companion document to the Framework

○     special challenges related to information literacy in that discipline

○     sources used in preparation of the document

○     brief description and timeline of the development process.

●     Describe measurable assessment strategies appropriate to the discipline and purpose of the document.

●     Have a title in the following format: “Companion Document to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education: INSERT SUBJECT HERE”

3. Procedures

The procedures that follow are descriptive of the recommended approach to developing Framework Companion Documents. Some deviation from these procedures is anticipated because different ACRL units have their own internal procedures and collaboration with faculty or associations demands flexibility on the part of librarians and ACRL.

A. Procedure to Initiate the Process

ACRL units wishing to develop Framework Companion Documents should complete these actions as the first steps:

  • Contact the chair of the ILFSC and state their intention to begin work on Framework Companion Documents, including the scope of the planned document and information about any other or professional organizations with which they plan to partner. The Chair will assign a committee member who will serve as a liaison to the ILFSC and advise and answer questions regarding procedures and timelines. The ILFSC will refer the unit to the Checklist for Developing Framework Companion Documents which will help to track the steps involved in this process.
  • The committee or task force may also include faculty representatives as advisors or consultants, as appropriate. The ACRL Liaison Activities website provides information about established relationships ACRL has with other organizations that may be helpful for outreach purposes.

B. Recommendations for the Development Process

The following components are recommended for the development process but may vary by the needs of the ACRL unit and/or discipline:

  • Review both the scholarly literature in the discipline and related conversations to identify faculty and stakeholder interest, existing or developing learning objectives and threshold concepts for the discipline, and any accreditation standards for the discipline and related programs.
  • Consult with any appropriate subject-specific library associations (e.g., Medical Library Association, American Association of Law Libraries, American Chemical Society’s Chemical Information Division, and various sections of the Special Library Association) or appropriate units elsewhere in ALA.
  • Consult with faculty and associations, particularly leaders of relevant teaching/learning focused committees or task forces within such organizations.
  • Review problems related to equity, diversity, and inclusion in the discipline as well as any ongoing efforts to remedy those barriers.
  • Initial review of the draft document by the ACRL unit’s leadership (e.g., a Section’s Executive Committee).
  • Distribute a draft of the companion document broadly and solicit comments from librarians, other library organizations, and from faculty and organizations (e.g. through C&RL News, ACRL Insider blog, a Section’s discussion list, Section’s website, and/or Section’s newsletter, etc.).

C. Procedure for Review and Approval

The Framework Companion Documents need to obtain approval from several ACRL groups as follows:

  • The ACRL unit’s leadership
  • The ACRL Information Literacy Frameworks & Standards Committee
  • The ACRL Standards Committee

The ACRL unit, as the group with appropriate expertise, will provide the primary review of the substance and content of the document.  Once approved by the ACRL unit, the document should be forwarded along with the “Transmittal Sheet for Draft Standards and Guidelines” to the ILFSC. The ILFSC reviews the document paying particular attention to the structure as outlined above, readability of the content of the document, and for conformity to the processes in this Tip Sheet.

The ILFSC may seek additional information from the ACRL unit submitting the document or may provide suggestions or recommendations for the ACRL unit to consider.  If no revisions are needed, the ILFSC will forward the document and transmittal sheet with a recommendation to the SC. 

The SC will review the document for conformity to the overall processes for development of standards, guidelines, and frameworks and other relevant ACRL and ACRL unit policies. They will submit their committee’s review, the ILFSC’s review, and a final recommendation to the ACRL Board for its action.

The ACRL Board has the authority to approve or deny approval to a set of Framework Companion Documents. The ACRL Board will convey its decision to the ACRL unit initiating the document, the ILFSC, the SC, and the ACRL staff responsible for the Standards and Guidelines website. If approval is denied, the ACRL unit and the ILFSC may choose to meet to discuss how to address the concerns, and the ACRL unit may choose to revise and resubmit the document for approval.

D. Procedure for Publication and Announcement

Once approved by the ACRL Board, the Framework Companion Documents may be officially announced. Possible avenues include:

●     Publishing the document on the unit's web site.

●     Creating a link to the document on the ACRL Standards, Guidelines, and Frameworks Web page as a sub-listing underneath the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

●     Submitting a short news article with the URL to C&RL News.

●     Submitting for inclusion in the Instruction Section's Information Literacy in the Disciplines wiki.

●     Submitting a short news article to other relevant professional organizations.

E. Procedure for Endorsements

Other professional organizations may be interested in endorsing the Framework Companion Documents at any point in the process.  ACRL is interested in obtaining endorsements from other professional and education-related organizations. Following the ACRL Guide to Policies and Procedures, units need to obtain ACRL Board approval before initiating or approving any related endorsements. Contact the ACRL Executive Director to discuss how to handle external requests or proactively initiate the process.