Information Literacy Competencies

In the past decade the amount of information available to the average student or faculty member has increased exponentially. Many of us are experiencing information overload when an Internet search engine produces tens of thousands of hits for a single query, when we are confronted with dozens of databases as possible resources for an online information search, or when we have access to a world-wide library catalog that points to resources in thousands of libraries around the globe. If we wish to cope with the Information Age, information literacy has become a necessary survival skill.

As a result of the online information explosion, the LSCC libraries have become a portal for access to a global web of information and communication networks. Since libraries today serve as guides and teaching facilities to help users navigate and evaluate these vast collections of information, the LSCC libraries are committed to offering instruction in information literacy skills, as specified in the LSCC Libraries' Library Instruction Mission and Goals statement.

According to the Association of College and Research Libraries' Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education:

Information literacy forms the basis of 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

The information literacy instruction program at Lake-Sumter Community College prepares students for life-long learning by teaching them to access, evaluate and use information effectively, ethically and legally, and to think critically about information and its role in society.

The LSCC libraries have identified the following information literacy competencies and corresponding skills, which are based on the ACRL standards. These skills are taught using several methodologies, including formal library instruction developed for LSCC courses, paper and web-based tutorials, handouts and point-of-use instruction by reference librarians, and credit courses covering the use of electronic resources and the Internet as research tools.

Library Competencies


1. Defining the Information Need
  • Distinguish formats: reference books, journals, Internet
  • Choose an appropriate information resource
  • Know how to choose and develop a topic
  • Understand basic library and research vocabulary
  • Recognize format types
  • Choose database or resource
  • Select appropriate topic
  • Learn language
2. Executing a Search Strategy
  • Design and use a search strategy
  • Understand the concept of controlled vocabulary
  • Use access points to find sources
  • Use Boolean logic to focus a search
  • Choose appropriate terms
  • Know meaning of 'subject'
  • Search by author, title, subject
  • Use AND / OR / NOT
3. Locating and Accessing Information
  • Understand how knowledge is organized, stored and transmitted
  • Understand how classification systems work
  • Be able to locate information using classification systems
  • Use library catalogs, from LINCC to WorldCat
  • Library of Congress Classification
  • Be able to read LC, SuDoc
4. Evaluating Information
  • Determine relevance, accuracy and significance
  • Analyze search results from keyword and subject searching
  • Use citations from other information sources
  • Evaluate Internet resources
  • Recognize the importance of intended audience
  • Know when, how to seek advice of experts (including librarians)
  • Evaluate bibliographic information
  • Compare search results
  • Use evaluation criteria for web resources
  • Perceive bias, point of view
5. Citing Information
  • Understand the legal and ethical issues in using information
  • Appreciate standards for the attribution of ideas, handling of quoted materials, various perspectives
  • Cite resources (traditional and electronic)
  • Appreciate intellectual property
  • Understand plagiarism, fair use
  • Use style guides in paper, online

LSCC librarians have created a chart that lists the competencies, specific skills, and the instructional tools used in library instruction sessions for three courses, ENC 1101, ENC 1102, and PSY 2012. In addition, information literacy competencies are covered in library instruction sessions for other courses, as well.


For more information:
ACRL: Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education