Information Literacy

Information Literacy refers to the interpretative practices, conventions, and intellectual property laws that guide how people consume, evaluate, produce, use, and archive information. This Guide serves as an introduction to InformationInformation Architecture, Information Design, and Information Literacy Perspectives & Practices. Nurture your imagination by becoming adept at strategic searching. Develop your critical reasoning competencies. Learn to identify, find, evaluate, apply, and cite information so you can establish a professional ethos and write clearly and persuasively.
Information Literacy: Travelers in line at an airport reading signs as they enter another country. Information Literacy: Travelers in line at an airport reading signs as they enter another country.


Information Literacy is

  1. a critical perspective, a point of view, that guides how people consume, evaluate, produce, use, and archive information
  2. a cluster of core, interconnected competencies that people possess that are associated with their ability to identify, find, evaluate, apply, and acknowledge information
  3. the competency to recognize”when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information” (American Library Association, 1989)
  4. a theoretical construct developed to map “a cluster of interconnected core concepts” that constitute information ecosystems (ACRL 2015)

Related Concepts: Evidence; Rhetorical Analysis; Rhetorical Reasoning

Synonymous Terms

Information Literacy may also be called

  • Data Information Literacy
  • Science Communication
  • STEM Literacy for Learning.

Why Does Information Literacy Matter?

If people lack these critical literacy competencies, they run the risk of

  • being spammed, tricked, or fooled by bad actors
  • being uninformed of the best information on a topic
  • making poor decisions, contrary to informed, evidence-based decision making.

“Over the past decade, we have seen a crisis of authenticity emerge. We now live in a world where anyone can publish an opinion or perspective, whether true or not, and have that opinion amplified within the information marketplace. At the same time, Americans have unprecedented access to the diverse and independent sources of information, as well as institutions such as libraries and universities, that can help separate truth from fiction and signal from noise.”

Obama, Barack (2009). “National Information Literacy Awareness Month” (PDF).

What Competencies are Associated with Information Literacy?

Most generally, Information Literacy refers to a cluster of competencies, including the ability

  • to recognize when you need information
  • to understand the type of information you need
  • to know how to search for information,
  • to interpret information, and
  • to know how to use and cite information.

By using critical perspectives when consuming, evaluating, or producing information, people develop competencies that have been conceptualized as “a basic human right in a digital world” (Alexandria Proclamation 2005).

Core Competencies
Be conscious of when you need information.
Learn to adeptly research information to inform and solve problems, entertain, or persuade.
Evaluate information critically (e.g, distinguish fake news from real news).
Be aware of ethical and unethical uses of information, including plagiarism.
Weave sources strategically into your text without undermining your purpose or losing your intended voice or tone.
Establish the credibility of your sources for your audience. Avoid patchwriting.
Cite sources correctly.

ACRL Frameworks (aka Threshold Concepts) for Information Literacy

The ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education characterizes information literacy as six critical perspectives:

  1. Authority is Constructed & Contextual
  2. Information Creation as a Process
  3. Information Has Value
  4. Research as Inquiry
  5. Scholarship as a Conversation
  6. Searching as Strategic Exploration

Works Cited

Alexandria Proclamation on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning, 2005. Information literacy. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved from

Association of College and Research Libraries. “Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.” Text. Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), October 10, 2019,

ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) (2015) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education,, 12/21/19.

CWPA 2011. Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing,, 3/3/20.

Obama, Barack (2009). “National Information Literacy Awareness Month” (PDF).