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Syracuse University Libraries

Information Literacy

This guide will point you towards a variety of resources to assist you in teaching and or learning about information literacy

Information Literacy Program

INTRODUCTION

The following document presents a plan for implementing, delivering, assessing, and communicating a formal information literacy instruction program within the Syracuse University Libraries. The Information Literacy Librarian, in collaboration with the Information Literacy Working Group (ILWG)[1], will revisit this document annually to update and/or revise as needed to ensure it remains consistent with the Libraries’ mission.

CONTEXT

In August, 2017 the ILWG was formed and charged to “support the work of Libraries staff involved in information literacy efforts, including in-person and online instruction, digital learning objects, and reference and research consultations, across all departments at SU Libraries.”[2] The ILWG met to lay the groundwork for the incoming Information Literacy Librarian who began in February, 2018.  A major output of the ILWG was the Information Literacy Survey, which gathered information from across a variety of relevant departments about the current status of and future needs for information literacy instruction within the Libraries.  In spring 2018 the current plan was created as a result of consultations with the ILWG, analysis of the Information Literacy Survey, discussions with relevant library departments, and research into best practices.

VISION

The Syracuse University Libraries will be the center of expertise in information literacy and regarded as a partner in advancing the University’s goal to provide students with the critical skills and values that inform academic, personal, and professional success.

MISSION

The Information Literacy Program at Syracuse University Libraries will deliver quality educational opportunities, inside and outside the classroom, to enable the Syracuse University community to succeed as members of an increasingly complex information society.

OUTCOMES

Information Literacy is broadly defined as “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.”[3] Program outcomes were developed by the ILWG and were informed by the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Framework for Information Literacy and the mission and values of the Syracuse University Libraries.

Through participation in our information literacy program, members of the Syracuse University community will:
 

  • Embrace the value of information literacy as essential to a pursuit of lifelong learning
     
  • Successfully navigate the information landscape by
    identifying information needs,
    locating, accessing, evaluating, and connecting information resources, and
    creating and managing information and research workflows in an ethical and sustainable manner

     
  • Engage with the social, political, and economic contexts through which information is created and disseminated
     
  • Recognize Syracuse University Libraries and its staff as integral to their creative and research practices
     

INSTITUTIONAL ALIGNMENT

The Information Literacy Program is aligned with two guiding documents, the University’s Academic Strategic Plan: Trajectories to Excellence, June 2016, and the Syracuse University Libraries Strategic Plan 2018-2022.

From the Academic Strategic Plan we aligned our strategic planning process with the following goal:

“Boldly instill in all undergraduate students those core competencies and values, and provide the dynamic learning experiences, that drive intellectual excellence, feed creativity, and cultivate the skills needed to excel.[4]

The Syracuse University Libraries’ Strategic Plan 2018-2022 document outlines the strategies for this program in Goal 3: Ensure Student Engagement & Success:

“Create an Information Literacy program as a part of the University’s pledge to “identify and develop a set of core competencies that give all students the critical skills that inform academic, personal, and professional success." 

“Build upon existing relationships with other areas that support student academic excellence on campus such as Academic Integrity, the Writing Center, and Information Technology Services.[5]

SCOPE

Instruction is delivered within the Libraries by a diverse team of librarians who teach in a multitude of spaces, employ a variety of pedagogical approaches, and reach a wide range of student populations. All library teaching staff endeavor to imbue their students with an overarching set of information literacy skills as articulated in the program outcomes above. This distributed model enables librarians from different units across the libraries to prioritize their efforts to align with their specific student populations. For example, librarians in the Department of Learning & Academic Engagement focus heavily on instruction for first-year students, international students, and online learners. The librarians in the Department of Research and Scholarship focus their teaching on students in their respective liaison departments. The Special Collections Research Center has a team of librarians who engage with students and faculty to teach with rare books, manuscript and archival collections.   

METHODS

Our method of delivering instruction is distributed across three areas:

Library as Program

The Libraries offer a variety of programming to support learning, including Welcome Fest, library tours, information fairs, and research workshops for specialized populations such as international students, honors students, distance learners, graduate students, and faculty.   

Library as Partner

The Libraries will partner with academic departments in a variety of ways including:

  • Course based integration with first-year courses, such as WRT 105/205, and First Year Forum,
  • Collaborations with Syracuse University Project Advance classes
  • Faculty collaborations with the Special Collections Research Center
  • Introductory and upper-division discipline-specific instruction by subject liaisons
  • University-wide initiatives on information literacy

Library as Place

The Libraries’ spaces present an opportunity to deliver information literacy instruction through reference consultations at service desks and by appointment, research support for study groups, and roving reference. Information literacy can also inform and guide the libraries approach to space planning, collection development, and technological support.

PEDAGOGY

Syracuse University Libraries will take a student-centered approach to teaching, designing instruction that incorporates constructivist-humanist approaches like active and self-directed learning. We will employ instructional techniques to accommodate a variety of learning styles. Librarians will apply a critical lens to information literacy concepts encouraging students to consider their experiences as learners in an information society.

The libraries will support learners outside of the physical classroom, through creation of learning objects such as research guides and online tutorials.

ASSESSMENT

The information literacy program will be assessed on an annual basis to determine the efficacy of the program from an operational standpoint, but also to demonstrate how the program is contributing to student learning.  The program will participate in the Libraries’ annual reporting process to the University’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment.  A student learning assessment plan will be created that aligns with the academic student learning assessment process across the University. 

OUTREACH

The program’s goals will be communicated internally and externally to relevant stakeholders via multiple methods.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

The information literacy librarian, in collaboration with the ILWG, will coordinate workshops and trainings, communicate publication and research opportunities, and offer other professional development opportunities. Librarians and staff will meet in person and virtually through the Teaching Circle, a community of practice committed to supporting those with teaching responsibilities across the Libraries.

ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT

The information literacy program should have sufficient administrative and institutional support in order to achieve the Libraries’ strategic goals concerning information literacy. This could include funding for professional development activities, technological support, appropriate staffing levels, and up to date educational facilities.

STRATEGIC PLANNING

The information literacy librarian, in collaboration with the ILWG, will submit a plan for instruction to library administration that identifies annual priorities and funding needs in alignment with the Libraries’ strategic plan.


[1] The Information Literacy Working Group was a pilot committee and will be converted to a standing committee by June 2018.  This document will reflect that change upon approval.

[2] Syracuse University Libraries, Information Literacy Working Group – Charge, 2017, 1.

[3] Association of College and Research Libraries, Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, 2015, http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework

[4] Syracuse University, Academic Strategic Plan, June 2016, 7.

[5] Syracuse University Libraries, Strategic Plan 2018-2022, March 2018, 7.

Why Information Literacy Matters to Faculty