Document Type


Presentation Date

Spring 4-5-2014

Conference Name

New Directions in Information Fluency

Conference Location

Augustana College - Rock Island, IL


Librarians have lately become enamored of threshold concepts. This enchantment is so compelling that the inchoate update of the ACRL information literacy competency standards--in which "standards" have apparently been replaced with a more flexible, concept-oriented framework--depends on them heavily. The appropriateness and feasibility of the ideas behind these terms, however, have been only weakly addressed. Certainly, it makes sense to take information literacy instruction beyond a focus on skill acquisition and into the realm of the conceptual, at least if teaching librarians want their work with students to be meaningful beyond the limited confines of producing "academic artifacts" of little lasting value. If we are to do this, though, we must consider why (whether?) librarians are the appropriate guides to the greater world of information outside traditional library resources. Additionally, we must address the tension between necessary skills-based instruction and our more sophisticated goal of encouraging emergent literacies in an information universe in flux, particularly when our time in the classroom is brief and our freedom is frequently constrained by the desires of our non-librarian instructor colleagues, who often have something more instrumental in mind. This paper considers these challenges.