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Information Literacy

The most important role for the Stark Campus Library is teaching Information Literacy skills to students. Faculty that assign research projects in their classes may want to consult this page for guidance in relating information literacy competencies to the assignments they give to their classes. It should also help describe each of the competencies and demonstrate how Stark Campus librarians can assist in teaching students these important skills. The page is modeled after the well-established ACRL standards that the library uses as a framework for creating live presentations to classes, online tutorials, and interactive exercises that help students develop information literacy skills.


Standard #1 "KNOW"

"The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed."

This standard involves defining the nature and scope of the research question or topic. Students will want to answer questions such as:

  • What is it the student wants to know?
  • What is the expected quantity and/or quality of the sources?
    • how many sources are needed?
    • what types of sources are needed (book, scholarly articles, webpages, etc.)?
    • should information discovered be based on opinion or reliable statistics (or both)?

The answers to these questions are often dictated by the requirements for completing the assignment:

  • students must choose from a list of predetermined topics
  • there is a maximum or minimum number of pages assigned
  • there is a minimum number of scholarly articles required

Unless the class includes or is devoted to establishing a research question or topic, students should have their question or topic established before the class is provided library instruction for other information literacy skills.

Stark Campus Library Resources:

Online Tutorial for Choosing a Topic

Interactive Exercise for Choosing a Topic

Choosing a Topic Handout

Other Related Resources:

How to Find and Develop a Viable Research Topic (Cornell University)

Assignment Calculator (University of Minnesota)

Assignment Calendar (Kent State University)


Standard #2 "ACCESS"

"The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently."

Standard #2 focuses on two essential basic skills for conducting research:

  • Constructing a viable search strategy
  • Applying the search strategy to various resources
    • finding books
    • finding articles in magazines and professional journals
    • using the world wide web to find information

Most instructional sessions devote a great deal of time on this standard. Students are shown how search strategies are constructed by extracting appropriate keywords, developing synonyms, and applying boolean operators. Then they apply the resulting strategy by using laptop computers to explore various online resources as well as print materials in the library's collection. Most sessions involve a mixture of classroom instruction by the librarian and individual or group work with assistance by the librarian. The goal is to teach each student valuable skills and to give them time to work on their classroom assignment.

Stark Campus Library Resources:

Online tutorial for creating a search strategy

Interactive search strategy worksheet

Handout for creating a search strategy

Other Related Resources:


Standard #3 "EVALUATE"

"The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system."

As students begin the process of discovering information obtained in resources (books, articles, webpages, etc.), they will need to determine the relative merits of that information. Two basic skills taught during library instructional sessions are:

  • Identifying the characteristics of scholarly articles
  • author affiliations
  • length
  • structure
  • presentation of data
  • references
  • Evaluating websites according to the following criteria
  • domain name extensions (.com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov)
  • authority (how do you know if this authority is credible and unbiased?)
  • purpose/context (is the intent of the website to inform and/or educate in an impartial manner or is the purpose to persuade and provide an unbalanced point of view?)
  • currency (can you tell when the content was created?)
  • quantity of information (is there extensive discussion and presentation of the content or are there few web pages with marginal information?)
  • supporting evidence (does the site list references or inform the user where data and facts were obtained?)
Instructional sessions typically include a discussion on the differences between scholarly and non-scholarly articles as part of the demonstration for using various online resources (article databases, for example). The librarian can also include effectively searching and evaluating websites as part of the instruction.

Stark Campus Library Resources:

Online tutorial for identifying scholarly articles

Online tutorial for evaluating websites

Handout for identifying scholarly articles

Handout for evaluating websites

Other Related Resources:

Criteria for Evaluating Web Resources (Kent Campus)


Standard #4 "USE"

"The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose."

While recognizing that this standard is extremely important, the library defers to the classroom faculty for teaching these important skills.

Other Related Resources:


Standard #5 "ETHICAL/LEGAL"

"The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally."

Standard #5 deals with a host of issues that students do need to be aware of. The one issue that the library has invested much time and effort on is plagiarism. To better understand the role the library plays with regard to plagiarism, please consult the following webpages:

Plagiarism Workshop

"Plagiarism School"

To schedule a library instruction session on information literacy skills, please contact one of the librarians directly or use the library's Online Request Form.