In 1989, the American Library Association defined Information literacy as 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.”
This definition has informed library professionals at every level for more than 25 years. On January 11, 2016, in conjunction with the adoption by the Board of Directors of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) of the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, an updated definition of information literacy was introduced. “This revised definition of information literacy emphasizes the importance of discourse communities within academic disciplines and the need for placing information literacy in the proper context within those communities.”1
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.²
The Framework document identifies a cluster of six interconnected core concepts or “frames” through which to understand, teach, and develop information literacy. These six frames are presented alphabetically and do not suggest a particular sequence in which they must be learned.
Authority is Constructed and Contextual
Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required.
Information Creation as a Process
Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences.
Information Has Value
Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination.
Research as Inquiry
Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.
Scholarship as Conversation
Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations.
Searching as Strategic Exploration
Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops.
¹Ariew, Susan. 2014. “How We Got Here.” Communications in Information Literacy 8 (2): 208-224.
²“Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education,” Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), accessed April 15, 2016, www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework