Skip to Main Content

University Library Policies

Endorsed by the Dean's Council, November 1997 and by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee July 17, 1998; revised January 11, 2008


The mission of the Library's Information Literacy Program (ILP) is to: enable students to identify and locate multiple sources of information using a variety of methods, formats, and research tools; Analyze and evaluate information within general, disciplinary and professional contexts; Develop information literacy competencies that will model success in their academic, personal, professional endeavors as well as life-long learning pursuits.

Program Description

The Information Literacy Program (ILP) offers multiple learning opportunities using a variety of methods designed for each level of educational experience. The ILP employs active learning to involve students in the learning process and facilitate their ability to learn independently. Active learning can take a variety of forms including group work or collaborative learning, hands-on computer training, active learning exercises in class (cooperative learning), group projects, self-paced modules, presentations and writing.

The concepts and general processes of using information and information sources are emphasized, rather than specific tools, technologies, or information systems. In teaching processes rather than tools, it is intended that the skills will be transferable across a variety of information systems and remain effective long after current technology becomes obsolete.  As the ILP develops, a diversity of learning styles can be more fully addressed through increased variety in instructional delivery methods through the strategic use of technology.

Careful, thoughtful inculcation of information skills requires extended time and interaction among students, librarians, and faculty.  Professional librarians act as subject liaisons that collaborate with teaching faculty to integrate information literacy skills across the curriculum.

Critical thinking, applied to information literacy skills, can be defined as the systematic, flexible, self-aware, and self-correcting formulation of search strategies and the careful evaluation of search results.  Students are coached to apply critical thinking skills to library and information technology environment.

Student learning is the centerpiece of the library's assessment efforts. The ILP defines information literacy competencies and will develop benchmarks for varying levels of expertise in the research process. The benchmarks will allow learners to self-assess, and enable the librarians to evaluate and improve the ILP's efficacy. The librarians will work collaboratively with other library and university personnel to develop the appropriate and measurable assessment methods for the program.

The structural underpinnings of the program are intended to foster a general progression in student knowledge and sophistication in seeking, using and evaluating information resources.  The ILP will evolve to meet the changing needs of the FGCU community while maintaining its fundamental precepts of active learning, student-centered approaches, and continuous review and assessment.

The instructional objectives of the ILP are grouped into five ability components which are each designed with two levels, or tiers, of competencies, except for component 5 which applies to all levels. The five ability components are:

  • How to determine the nature and extent of information needed.
  • How information sources are structured.
  • How to access needed information effectively and efficiently.
  • How information sources are organized and accessed through libraries.
  • How to use information ethically and legally.

Tier 1 of the information literacy competencies within each component corresponds with the University's general education program and targets the freshmen/sophomore level undergraduate student.  It is intended to provide a foundation for more advanced competencies to be developed in the majors or in professional settings. Tier 1 focuses on basic skills and emphasizes the elements of the research process.

Tier 2 of the information literacy competencies focuses on more advanced research techniques and specialized resources unique to the disciplines or professions involved and targets the junior/senior level undergraduate student.  It is intended to familiarize students with the research patterns of specialists in the discipline, the publication cycle, primary/secondary source distinctions unique to that discipline, and refinements in search strategies and tactics. Information literacy at this level emphasizes information in its wider context.  Ideally, this tier will be integrated into those courses required for the major that have a natural need for information seeking and information resources.

Tier 3 of the information literacy competencies focuses on the role of graduate students as potential contributors to scholarly discourse.  Direct contact with experts and researchers, professional organizations and associations, and specialized terminology of the discipline may therefore comprise a portion of the information competencies in this tier. Graduate students will go beyond tier 2 focusing even further on sub-disciplinary literature and resources.

Ability Component 1:  How to determine the nature and extent of information needed.

Objective:  The learner understands how information is defined by experts, and recognizes how that knowledge can help determine the direction of his or her search for specific information.

Tier 1 competencies (freshmen/sophomore level):

  • Learner recognizes when he or she has an information need and can formulate a search question and appropriate strategy.
  • Learner understands that the initial question may be too broad or too narrow to investigate effectively and may require adjustment in scope.
  • Learner knows that individuals identify themselves as belonging to specific areas and/or disciplines.
  • Learner knows that information sources appear in different formats.

Tier 2 competencies (junior/senior level):

  • Learner recognizes how information sources are reviewed, accepted, and disseminated in the research community.
  • Learner knows how scholars in his or her field of study communicate and publish their research.
  • Learner can formulate a research question, recognize when the question is discipline -specific or interdisciplinary, and construct an appropriate search strategy for his or her discipline.
  • Learner understands that the audience and purpose of the end product will in part determine the direction and type of search conducted.

Tier 3 competencies (Masters/Doctoral level)

  • Learner understands when a comprehensive thorough literature review is required for example before commencing individual applied or theoretical research

Ability Component 2:  How information sources are structured.

Objective:  The learner understands the importance of the organizational content, bibliographic structure, function, and use of information sources.

Tier 1 competencies (freshmen/sophomore level):

  • Learner understands the difference between primary and secondary resources.
  • Learner understands the importance of the author’s credentials, date of publication, and publisher’s reputation in evaluating a source.
  • Learner knows the difference between popular and scholarly journals.
  • Learner recognizes the organization or arrangement of an information source may affect its usefulness (hierarchical, alphabetical, chronological, tabular, regional, classified, schematic or numerical).
  • Learner recognizes the relevancy of a source by correctly identifying the source’s thesis and arguments.
  • Learner is familiar with the basic print and electronic information sources and recognizes the difference between Internet ephemera and enduring scholarly publications.
  • Learner knows the difference between, and can use a bibliography, footnote, and/or references in the appropriate style.
  • Learner understands that the purpose of citations is so others may locate the same publications.

Tier 2 competencies (junior/senior level):

  • Learner can evaluate the usefulness of an information source in terms of author's credentials, timeliness, scope, intended audience, structure, content, and bias.
  • Learner recognizes the importance of title, thesis, preface, introduction, table of contents, appendixes, summary and abstract in evaluating the scope, limitations, and special features of the information source and thereby its usefulness.
  • Learner recognizes that the amount and type of documentation used may affect the value of the information source.
  • Learner recognizes that unrecorded information resources exist and can evaluate their potential usefulness.
  • Learner knows that the amount of information required and the form of citations may vary among disciplines and within subject areas.
  • Learner understands the significance of identifying information sources which are repeatedly cited by more than one source.
  • Learner is familiar with the basic print and electronic information sources in his or her major field of study.
  • Learner is familiar with the resources to help them create a bibliography, footnotes, and references in the style used in his or her discipline.

Tier 3 competencies (Masters/Doctoral)

  • Learner is able to identify peer-reviewed literature in their discipline or sub-discipline.

Ability Component 3:  How to access needed information effectively and efficiently.

Objective:  The learner can use information sources or information systems to identify relevant information.

Tier 1 competencies (freshmen/sophomore level):

  • Learner understands there are certain elements of information called access points (which include author, title, subject, and topic or description field) that are most pertinent to identify a source.
  • Learner understands that the use of additional access points depends on the structure and format of the source used to identify new information.
  • Learner understands that additional access may be available through key word searching, codes, categories, or mapping which may not be obvious in the information source or system.
  • Learner recognizes that information found within an abstract or summary may potentially be used as an access point.
  • Learner understands the concept of Boolean logic and can construct a search using “and” and “or.”
  • Learner understands that some sources use controlled vocabulary assigned by an indexer cataloger, or computer programmer as access points.
  • Learner understands that there may be printed or online lists or thesauri which may aid in the identification of these access points.
  • Learner recognizes the relationship of broader, narrower, and related terms.
  • Learner recognizes that no access tool is comprehensive in scope and therefore it is important to select the appropriate access tool(s) to identify useful information sources.

Tier 2 competencies (junior/senior level):

  • Learner can determine what type or kind of information resources his or her research requires and is aware of the implications of using those resources.
  • Learner knows when to change the topic or direction of his or her search.
  • Learner, when given insufficient information, can take the appropriate steps to identify a particular access point.
  • Learner can construct a complex Boolean search including the use of proximity, key word, and truncation.
  • Learner knows how to locate controlled vocabulary lists and thesauri appropriate for his or her subject area or discipline.
  • Learner can select and use appropriate, discipline-specific access tools to locate information sources for his or her research needs.
  • Learner can evaluate citations retrieved or information accessed and determine whether or not it is at the appropriate level of specificity.
  • Learner recognizes that the absence of recorded information sources does not preclude the existence of unrecorded information sources; it may suggest the necessity of original analysis or data collection.

Tier 3 competencies (Masters/Doctoral level)

  • Learner is able to compare and contrast scholarly literature versus popular publications, print and web-based, that are developed by non experts.

Ability Component 4:  How Information sources are organized and accessed through libraries.

Objective:  The learner understands the way collections of information sources are organized and accessed.

Tier 1 competencies (freshmen/sophomore level):

  • Learner knows that libraries and library systems may group information sources by subject, author, format, publisher, type of material, or specific audience.
  • Learner recognizes that types of material may be grouped together to provide ease of use or because of preservation or maintenance concerns.
  • Learner understands that classification schemes are designed to enable libraries to locate materials on the same subject in the same discipline in close proximity to each other.
  • Learner understands that the library uses call numbers to assign a unique physical address to each item in the collection.
  • Learner understands that individual items within a library's collection may be in special holdings or locations.
  • Learner understands that the library website provides a gateway to scholarly publications and authoritative print and Internet resources.
  • Learner understands that the library staff is comprised of individuals with varying degrees and areas of expertise who provide specific services.
  • Learner recognizes that reference librarians have and provide expertise in specific disciplines.
  • Learner understands the policies and procedures used by the library and that these may vary among libraries.
  • Learner understands that the campus library is not the only location through which to retrieve necessary material.
  • Learner understands that libraries do not have comprehensive holdings and that libraries routinely share materials through interlibrary loan.

Tier 2 competencies (junior/senior level):

  • Learner knows what major institutions and collections exist in his or her discipline (nationally, regionally and locally) and is aware that organization and access to these places may differ.
  • Learner knows that some libraries provide separate collections for special user groups.
  • Learner recognizes that many library systems are decentralized and the materials at each location may be distinguished by subject, format, publisher, type of material, or by special audience.
  • Learner recognizes that personal and professional networks may be essential to retrieving appropriate information.

Tier 3 competencies (Masters/Doctoral level)

  • Learner is familiar with the major journals and websites of professional organizations in his or her sub-discipline.
  • Learner understands the role of interdisciplinary research and publication in advancing knowledge in his or her sub-discipline.

Ability Component 5:  How to use information ethically and legally.

Objective:  The learner understands many of the ethical, legal, and socio-economic issues surrounding information and information technology.

Competencies (all levels):

  • Learner demonstrates an understanding of intellectual property, copyright, and fair use of copyrighted material.
  • Learner uses approved passwords and/or other forms of ID for access to information resources.
  • Learner complies with institutional policies on access to information resources.
  • Learner legally obtains, stores, and disseminates text, data, images, or sounds.
  • Learner demonstrates an understanding of what constitutes plagiarism and does not represent work attributable to others as his/her own by utilizing appropriate documentation styles consistently to cite sources.
  • Learner acknowledges the use of information sources in communicating the product or performance.
  • Learner recognizes concepts of freedom of expression, freedom of speech, censorship, classified information, and proprietary information.

For more information, please contact Dr. Linda Colding (239) 590-7604.