Skip to Main Content

New Faculty Orientation

What is Information Literacy?

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.

Why is information literacy important?

  • Acquiring skills to translate information into knowledge is relevant to all disciplines.

  • Better research skills can produce more effectively-argued research papers.

  • Information literacy empowers students to learn for themselves and make informed decisions.

  • Students are new to scholarship and the academy, and their mental models can be different from those of faculty.

  • Information literacy gives students strategies to look for bias and assess context when evaluating information.

  • Information literacy is linked to professional competency and gives graduates skills that are relevant to their work and personal lives.

ACRL Information Literacy Framework



The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) released in February 2015 the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. This framework expands on the standards (detailed in the box below), and "grows out of a belief that information literacy as an educational reform movement will realize its potential only through a richer, more complex set of core ideas." (ACRL) 

The Framework is organized into six frames, each consisting of a concept central to information literacy, a set of knowledge practices, and a set of dispositions. The six concepts that anchor the frames are presented alphabetically:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Queen's University librarians, and faculty are continually working together to apply the Framework to the curriculum.