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Information Literacy : Definition of Information Literacy

Definitions of Information Literacy

The following text is taken directly from "Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education", published by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) in 2000.

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.  Information literacy also is increasingly important in the contemporary environment of rapid technological change and proliferating information resources. Because of the escalating complexity of this environment, individuals are faced with diverse, abundant information choices--in their academic studies, in the workplace, and in their personal lives. Information is available through libraries, community resources, special interest organizations, media, and the Internet--and increasingly, information comes to individuals in unfiltered formats, raising questions about its authenticity, validity, and reliability. In addition, information is available through multiple media, including graphical, aural, and textual, and these pose new challenges for individuals in evaluating and understanding it. The uncertain quality and expanding quantity of information pose large challenges for society. The sheer abundance of information will not in itself create a more informed citizenry without a complementary cluster of abilities necessary to use information effectively.

Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. An information literate individual is able to:

  • 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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This definition has been supplemented by a new, more succinct definition that was published in the "Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education" by the ACRL in 2015.  This definition reads as follows:

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

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Learning Outcomes at Meredith

In Spring 2015, the General Education Committee approved a revised set of Student Learning Outcomes for information literacy.  Here is the language that was approved by the committee:

Upon completion of an IL designated course, students will be able to:

  1.  Articulate a research question in the context of an academic discipline and identify the extent of information needed to address it,
  2.  Identify relevant primary and/or secondary source material using effective search strategies,
  3.  Evaluate the information and its sources critically and decide whether the initial question should be revised,
  4.  Synthesize the information with original insights and articulate sound conclusions that address the research question, and
  5.  Incorporate and cite sources ethically, as specified by disciplinary standards.