Document Type


Presentation Date

Spring 3-22-2013

Conference Name

Michigan Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters - Library/Information Sciences

Conference Location

Hope College, Holland, MI


Information literacy is frequently invoked as leitmotiv in college-level library instruction, a fact which by no means implies a unanimous sense of its “meaning” among teaching librarians. Even a cursory perusal of the library literature demonstrates the importance of the concept, both as an educational paradigm and theoretic stimulus. Notably, despite rising acknowledgment that information literacy grows ever more vital for today’s students, little consideration of its place and purpose within other fields is found in academic publications outside information science. Likewise, information literacy instruction, while acknowledged in core curricula, is frequently marginalized in practice: cramped sessions within other courses remain the primary vehicle. It is no stretch to conclude that information literacy is rarely treated as a salient discipline worthy of intellectual effort beyond its basic instrumentality in limited contexts. This paper grapples with the question of its status as a valid academic enterprise. I aim to suggest that library instruction – specifically, instruction that claims information literacy as a goal – has deeper significance in the educational process than the promotion of a simple acquaintance with library resources (though this remains important). In particular, considering information literacy as an epistemological tool demonstrates its frequently obscured value in students’ intellectual development.