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SUNY Erie Library Resource Center

Information Literacy and Library Instruction

Faculty resources and videos on Information Literacy and Library Instruction

Information Literacy

What is Information Literacy?

Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." 1

Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. An information literate individual is able to:

  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally

(Association of College & Research Libraries [ACRL] Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education)

Middle States- Information Literacy

The Middle States Commission has mandated that each college it accredits, including Erie Community College, ensure that information literacy is integrated into the curriculum across all disciplines.

From Middle States Standard 11 for accreditation:

“Several skills, collectively referred to as “information literacy,” apply to all disciplines in an institution’s curricula. These skills relate to a student’s competency in acquiring and processing information in the search for understanding, whether that information is sought in or through the facilities of a library, through practical, as a result of field experiments, by communications with experts in professional communities, or by other means. Therefore, information literacy is an essential component of any educational program at the graduate or undergraduate levels.

These skills include the ability to:

  • determine the nature and extent of needed information;
  • access information effectively and efficiently;
  • evaluate critically the sources and content of information;
  • incorporate selected information in the learner’s knowledge base and value system;
  • use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose;
  • understand the economic, legal and social issues surrounding the use of information and information technology; and
  • observe laws, regulations, and institutional policies related to the access and use of information.

Closely tied to information literacy is the need for technological competency at all levels within an institution and its curricula. Higher education has new information sources and technologies that supplement its print-based knowledge resources and present new challenges for teachers and learners who must learn how to develop and use general or discipline-specific technologies to identify, retrieve, and apply relevant information. Therefore, institutions should provide both students and instructors with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to use the information, new technology, and media for their studies, teaching, or research. As information technologies emerge, institutions may offer periodic updating or retraining.”

Standard 11. Education offerings. In Middle States Commission on Higher Education (2006, rev. 2009). Characteristics of excellence in higher education; Eligibility requirements and standards for accreditation. Page 40. Available on the World Wide Web at

Revised Standards (13th Edition) available at: