Skip to Main Content

Companion Document to the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education: Politics, Policy and International Relations

This guide was developed to accompany the Companion Document to the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education: Politics, Policy and International Relations.

Overview of the Politics, Policy, and International Relations Section’s (PPIRS) Ad Hoc Committee for Information Literacy

The Committee’s first meeting was held on April 13, 2018, following a prompt from ACRL’s Information Literacy Standards and Frameworks Committee to update the section’s 2013 response to ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. A call was made to PPIRS list-serv for members willing to participate. Members include Erin Ackerman, Brett Cloyd, Stephanie Crowe, Christopher Lemery, Catherine Morse, Chelsea Nesvig, Mary Oberlies, and Winn Wasson. During the process, Brett Cloyd and Mary Oberlies took turns as Committee Chair, with Mary Oberlies serving as Chair as the work of the Committee came to its conclusion.

The Committee saw this as an opportunity to provide guidance and support to librarians working with PPIRS-related disciplines. In addition, the Committee sought to develop good working relationships among librarians working in PPIRS liaison areas and enhance those librarians’ capacity to work with faculty. Having had several years of practice and experience in librarianship since the approval of the ACRL Framework and commencement of its implementation, the Committee was excited to find ways to contribute to the conversation around information literacy in the profession. With the sunsetting of the Competency Standards, the Committee believed the charge called for starting from scratch and building a new approach to information literacy for the subject areas covered by PPIRS.  

Soliciting input from relevant stakeholders was an important component to the Committee’s work. Key stakeholders included PPIRS-discipline faculty at Committee members' institutions and PPIRS members.

Committee members, who work in libraries on various sized campuses, developed questions for interviews with faculty and each met individually with 3-4 faculty members on their campus. Faculty were generous with their comments and insights on how they see students developing information and research skills. Faculty also identified shortcomings they saw in students’ work such as distinguishing between source types and posing research questions. Additionally, faculty frequently mentioned competency in social sciences research skills and the imperative for students to acquire skills related to data analytics, qualitative and quantitative methods, and the interpretation of discipline-specific source types. 

Librarians were given several opportunities to offer feedback. During the 2019 ALA Annual Meeting, committee members Brett Cloyd and Mary Oberlies led a session to highlight the committee’s work and inquire whether it was on track to meet expectations of colleagues. Comments were transcribed and reported back to the committee.  

Librarians were also asked to complete a Qualtrics-based survey to gather input about how they were using the Framework. Results informed the committee’s work and the content of its output.

The Committee chose to create a LibGuide about the PPIRS Framework, given the platform’s practicalities, and its use as a shared platform among librarians. The committee decided to create a visual infographic to illustrate digestible concepts for faculty members, and review each of the frames, as separate LibGuide pages. Each frame is described both in the context of the PPIRS Framework, and also in terms of the issues facing students, faculty, and librarians in these subject areas.  We have mined knowledge practices and dispositions from the Framework that we believe are most relevant to political science, policy studies, international relations, and related disciplines. These are described as “Evidence of Frame in Action” and “Sample  Learning Goals.” The evidence of frame in action sections each articulate how the frame could manifest in the real world. These examples are drawn from student or faculty research practice, examples of typical information sources or research methods in PPIRS disciplines, or represent real world issues scholars (novice or expert) need to take into consideration when conducting research. They are intended to be specific interpretations of the frames. We elected to create learning goals over learning outcomes so that librarians might use the goals to create outcomes specific to the sub-fields they work with. This document and LibGuide do not currently contain sample learning activities. The Committee recommends PPIRS members use the ACRL Information Literacy Sandbox for depositing and tagging activities with "PPIRS" to help others locate relevant learning activities. To assist with this, a link to search this tag in the Sandbox has been included on the first page of this LibGuide.

PPIRS is a popular section in ACRL and covers a wide array of subject disciplines. The Committee discussed approaches that would give disciplinary-specific examples of the Frames but felt the expertise for doing this might better rest with our members. With this in mind, we have broadly described the frames, evidence of frame in action and learning goals within this document so they are relevant to political science, policy studies, international relations, and related disciplines, but not specific to the sub-fields we represent. Our hope is that the PPIRS LibGuide for Information Literacy can provide a platform for collaboration in teaching practices between librarians and faculty that support student learning in a complicated information landscape through the padlet and ACRL Sandbox. We also encourage members of our section to come together in working groups to further interpret this document within the sub-fields PPIRS represents.

Our group has enjoyed good collegial relationships throughout our time working on this project. As we look forward to sharing this work, we recognize its lifespan is limited by changes in technology, current events, research practices, and pedagogy. We hope that our current and future colleagues will find this contribution useful and build upon it in the future.