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The new age of information literacy; ACRL rethinks its standards

December 13, 2013

Barbara Opar and Barret Havens, column editors

ACRL (the Association of College and Research Libraries) is considered the source for standards and guidelines on academic libraries. ACRL is dedicated to helping the academic community understand the components of an excellent library. As such, in 2000, ACRL drafted Information Competency Standards for Higher Education and established benchmarks for information literacy competencies to assist students as well as librarians. Selection of the appropriate investigative methodology and development of a research plan are two such indicators. The past thirteen years, however, have seen a multitude of changes in the world as well as higher education. Recognizing this, in July 2011, ACRL created a task force charged with determining if the existing standards should be retained for another five year cycle. The task force recommended that the standards be extensively revised and the process began.

ACRL’s board then charged the task force to: “Update the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education so that they reflect the current thinking on such things as the creation and dissemination of knowledge, the changing global higher education and learning environment, the shift from information literacy to information fluency, and the expanding definition of information literacy to include multiple literacies, e.g., transliteracy, media literacy, digital literacy, etc.” http://www.acrl.ala.org/acrlinsider/archives/7329

The new standards-in draft form- will be released this December and will be posted on the ACRL website. The new version will retain many of the previous guidelines, minimize jargon and include affective outcomes. The standards will be aimed at maintaining continuity with the American Library Association’s School Library Standards for the 21st Century. The standards will recognize new kinds of content such as scholarly communication and new digital formats will be included. Data curation abilities will be recognized and encouraged.  Students as content creators and collaborative work will be among the new types of learning tools identified. In addition, disciplinary knowledge and threshold concepts will be described with their corresponding learning outcomes. The standards will also encourage students to develop metacognitive abilities and different parts of the brain. All this is aimed at broadening our idea and understanding of information literacy as well as accepting the impact of globalization on what is being taught.  

The ACRL Task Force hopes that by putting greater emphasis upon visual, auditory, and data sources, learning outcomes will be improved, resulting in new and different opportunities for students, faculty and librarians to work together. The blending of competencies will begin to acknowledge changes in teaching methods and how students learn. 

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