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Frameworks & Standards

Explore the ACRL Information Literacy Framework, Competency Standards for Higher Education, as well as related accreditation and international guiding documents.

ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education

In July of 2011, ACRL formed a Task Force charged to recommend retaining the existing standards, revising the standards, or eliminating the standards. The task force recommended that the standards be extensively revised. Towards that end, the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education Task Force is revising the standards slated for publication in the summer of 2014.

Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education was filed on February 2, 2015 and adopted by the ACRL Board, January 11, 2016  as one of the constellation of information literacy documents from the association.

View recommended readings on    The Information Literacy Framework

  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. 

Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. American Library Association, 2015.

View archived Framework webcast recordings:

Framework Resources

The framework is:

  • based on a cluster of interconnected core concepts, with flexible options for implementation, rather than on a set of standards or learning outcomes, or any prescriptive enumeration of skills 
  • composed of conceptual understandings that organize many other concepts and ideas about information, research, and scholarship into a coherent whole
  • organized into six frames, each consisting of a concept central to information literacy, a set of knowledge practices, and a set of dispositions
  • a document which envisions information literacy as extending the arc of learning throughout students’ academic careers and as converging with other academic and social learning goals

The frames:

  • 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.
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Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

These standards were reviewed by the ACRL Standards Committee and approved by the Board of Directors of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) on January 18, 2000, at the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association in San Antonio, Texas. These standards were also endorsed by the American Association for Higher Education (October 1999) and the Council of Independent Colleges (February 2004).

View recommended readings on    The Information Literacy Standards

  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. 

American Library Association. Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report.(Chicago: American Library Association, 1989.)

The competency standards:

  • order five primary standards in a logical hierarchy
  • divide each standard into several performance indicators. A performance indicator answers the question “What do we want the student to learn?"
  • divide each performance indicator into several learning outcomes. A learning outcome answers the question: “How do we know that the student has learned?”

The standards:

  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally
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US Higher Education Accreditation 

Accreditation agencies have lent their support to the information literacy movement by including language in their Standards that stress the importance of teaching these abilities in colleges and universities. Explore the links below for self-studies, reports, and librarian contacts from various schools.

View recommended readings on    Accreditation


Global Information Literacy Standards

Information Literacy is important throughout the world and many interesting programs are being developed. We are providing links to seminal information literacy standards and definitions on this page.