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Hamersly Library

Library Information for Faculty: Teaching

Core Theoretical Concepts of Information Literacy

The following is based on ACRL's Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

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. 

What this means in the classroom: We discuss this concept when teaching students about evaluating sources of information they find in their research. We teach them how to decide what is credible information that is appropriate to use in the context of a college classroom, and in so doing discuss authority and what may be acceptable in other contexts. We may provide a handout about the CRAAP test or some other tool for critical evaluation. Depending on the class, this discussion can also touch upon the social issues surrounding information and authority.

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. 

What this means in the classroom: We teach this concept through the instructions we give and examples we use for searching library databases for books and articles. We show students how to access the information they need effectively and efficiently, but we also show them that it is OK to make mistakes. We demonstrate how they can build on their keyword list as they go, and how to incorporate new pieces of information into their search on the fly. We show that there are often many sources that will help in their exploration if they are flexible and creative. In other words, we demonstrate live how messy, nonlinear, and iterative good searching is meant to be.

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.  

What this means in the classroom: Similar to the above, we teach this mainly through instructing and demonstrating how to use library databases. As we do this, we demonstrate how a topic or research question can change, evolve, be broadened or narrowed. In so doing we, again, illustrate that there is rarely one right answer. Research is a process, not a destination, and students should learn along the way. In understanding this process, students are better able to define and articulate their own information needs.

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. 

What this means in the classroom: We discuss this concept most often in the context of teaching students to cite their sources accurately and appropriately. We cover the logistics of doing so and maintain citation style guides for all the major styles on the the library website, but we also touch upon the reasoning behind citation. That is, it allows students to understand and enter into the scholarly conversation - in addition to giving credit to others for their words and ideas, of course. When students look at citation in this way they see that the authors of the articles they read are in conversation with all the authors listed in their references, and that future authors will be in conversation with them. In this way, students can begin to see scholarship as a community, as opposed to a monolithic authority (see Authority is Constructed above).

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. 

What this means in the classroom: We do not often get to touch upon this concept, but have had very fruitful discussions with students in certain classes about the economic, legal, ethical, and social issues of information. We are comfortable leading these discussions and soliciting student participation, but are also happy to collaborate with the instructor of record for the class to engage their students in a discussion of these issues.

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. 

What this means in the classroom: We discuss this concept most often when teaching students about different types of information sources and when each is appropriate. For example, we will engage students in a conversation about the processes for creating various types of information products or sources (newspapers, magazines, scholarly articles, blogs, websites) and what this means in terms of the message being conveyed, the authority behind that message, and in what type of scenario each source would be appropriate. We also sometimes teach classes in which we facilitate the creation of information by the students. For example, in a class where students are assigned to create a video presentation we teach them to use various tools and technologies, and help them choose which one might be best suited to their topic or project.

Types of Instruction We Offer


Examples of how content is delivered through in-person or online methods



Various types of information from articles to books and computers and smart phones

Library instruction is always tailored to the specific needs of the course and can include a variety of content.

  • Finding and evaluating information from various sources including web pages, articles, books, social media, images....
  • Developing effective research goals, strategies, practices.... 
  • Creating presentations, posters, infographics, videos, podcasts.... 
  • Understanding copyright, citation formats, storage and sharing of information.... 
  • Discussing broader issues regarding the ethics of search and information structures, media credibility, information accessibility...


Examples of three clocks with 50, 75, and 110 minutes highlighted

  • Typical sessions run 50, 75, or 110 minutes.
  • Shorter sessions can be scheduled for single point-of-need instructions. 
  • Multiple sessions can be scheduled over a term if needed.


Three icons: a question mark, e-mail, and person indicating how librarians can work with students

  • Librarians can meet one-on-one or with groups in person, via e-mail, or other collaborative options 
  • Librarians serving in a non-grading role can be embedded in Moodle to directly contact or through the use of Moodle forums. Contact your librarian before the term starts to make arrangements.
  • Librarian contact information can be included in syllabus