Notes on Building the Information Literate University

Bill Johnston & Sheila Webber

Information Literacy

It’s big and complex. A lot has been done and researched, but not put together.

The information literate person is an information culture needs a broader, more creative and critical information and media education, not only to enjoy the economic benefits of digitally based infrastructures, but to fully engage either the social, political, and creative dimension of the developing information culture of the 21st century.

Hoping to lead to wise and ethical use of information.

Information Literacy as Discipline

  • professional associations and journals
  • international community
  • academic departments
  • graduate students
  • id with the discipline
  • distinctive language
  • knowledge and research base

Continuing to use the term, because it’s used at the international level. In essence, doesn’t really matter what term we use if we can connect the different areas. Partly, because there is no real alternative term. What you need to keep in mind is that the meaning may change depending on the context (work, subject, country), and users will express different needs.

Information Literate University

This includes graduates, academic peers elsewhere and wider society, but more specifically include:

  • Info Literate Curriculum (in curriculum, as discipline)
  • Info Literate students
  • Info Literate Research
  • Info Literate staff & managers
  • Staff development for IL
  • Management for IL (strategy, policy, resourcing, infrastructure, knowledge & research)

To move towards such a university, need to think about what forces can bring about this change, including:

  • whole course redesign
  • strategy for education (in institutional plan)
  • specific student learning environments
  • theoretically informed case studies

Institutional Strategies

A chance for opportunity spotting. For example, cross disciplinary research, and cross organization research. Another example is engaging students through thinking about how to integrate learning instead of just one off workshops, and using tools to enrich learning. Information literacy might be the discipline of the librarians (as faculty). Zones of action might include workshop model of educational development for librarians with subject/university focus with themes of assessment and online learning objects.

Mainstreaming IL

Many ways to to engaging academic staff.

  • pre-empt negativity
  • identify downside of not shifting
  • identify lecturers who have refixed the rate (combining staff time, etc.; transmissive vs. constructivist)
  • develop scenarios for refixing the rate

Teaching-Learning Environment

Student spending more time engaged in:

  • acitivites designed for deep processing of info
  • developing knowledge of reliable sources
  • etc.

Need to think about:

  • specific pedagogic approach
  • a

  • infrastructure such as classroom setups
  • e-learning: process of; focus on approach, not learning objects


  • Think BIG
  • Associate IL eith global themes, educational achievement, and institutional success
  • teach, learn, research, and communicate through IL
  • Challenge doubters and convince supporters

Workshop Notes

In the afternoon, we worked in groups to come up with different strategies to mainstream information literacy.

Aims and Strategies

  • Research a core group at every level and convince faculty of the value
  • Have students understand that the information they are looking for is available at the library
  • Education of the faculty
  • Building relationships with faculty
    • sharing successful stories and strategies
    • become more embedded: courses, research
    • building enough of a relationship to do a course redesign
  • maintain face to face contact
  • ensure programmatically implemented
  • testing critical student thinking
  • e-textbooks
  • audit course outlines and develop IL arguments or zones of intervention, then include statement
  • IL becoming component of the institutional teaching methodologies, sneaking it in
  • subject related divisions within OCUL which don’t exist
  • student survey on student info seeking and help behaviour
  • co-teaching

Key Levers

  • new strategic plan and new administration
  • related committees in teaching, curriculum, and info literacy
  • dealing with funding changes due to university specialization declarations
  • collaborations cross-university
  • integration of tutorials, tools, and services into environment e.g. Course Management Systems
  • making use of existing communications and marketing avenues e.g. Taking advantage of assessment to get support from upper administration
  • AACSB (accreditation)
  • program/course proposals
  • program review
  • online courses/e-learning
  • copyright
  • faculty meetings
  • conferences


  • faculty liaisons and subject experts
  • library “champions”
  • other university departments e.g. Writing centre
  • librarians at other universities
  • Student services
  • Academic support
  • Teaching co
  • quality assurance framework
  • OCUL

Connecting It All

The key points to be taken forward.

  • Teaching chairs (R)
  • Teaching & Learning commons (Y)


  • growing learning commons to include topics of academic integrity
  • building on tri-mentoring to find out what info literacy skills employers are looking for (R)
  • meta-level points for engaging faculty in importance of IL e.g. Info society, ethical issues
  • getting upper admin buy-in and budget
  • opportunities for embedding and assessment


  • R-Y partnership to talk about success & challenges specific to subject areas building on informal network
  • writing IL modules for courses that can be collaborative and shared
  • syllabus audit looking for IL opportunities
  • IL committee


  • college (workshops, drop-in)
  • career centre
  • learning skills
  • tri-mentoring
  • other librarians in same subject
  • accreditation bodies: building on industry expectations
  • within the university: faculty liaisons

Developing library staff

  • more intensive opportunity to discuss these issues with outcomes of program documents or policies, etc. beyond just a one day workshop
  • retreat
  • instruction peer assessment
  • communication: key messages & how to convey them
  • time and training for IL
  • reexamine what IL should or can look like

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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