"to carry the keys of the world's library in your pocket, and feel its resources behind you in whatever task you undertake "
--'Offer of the College,' by William DeWitt Hyde, Seventh President of Bowdoin College
An information literate person:
- Identifies a need for information, is able to develop an appropriate research strategy and plan of action and
- assumes responsibility for being an engaged, active, and critical participant;
- is familiar with his/her own learning style and adjusts the research process accordingly.
- Recognizes that various disciplines and types of information have unique organizational structures, each with different means of access and
- identifies appropriate and authoritative tools (e.g., library catalog, indices and abstracts, bibliographies, reference works, etc.) for a given subject, discipline, or type of information (e.g., government documents, journals, books, etc.) using research guides, help pages, and other instructional resources;
- seeks assistance and guidance from instructors and librarians;
- formulates strategies for approaching poorly organized information.
- Selects and uses a variety of general and in-depth research tools, in print and electronic formats and
- understands that each source is best suited for specific purposes and audiences and
provides differing amounts of information (e.g., brief or thorough, citations or full-text, introductory or advanced);
- locates basic resources that identify the vocabulary of the discipline;
- formulates efficient search queries, specific to each tool, using controlled vocabulary, keyword searching, natural language, Boolean operators, truncation and other techniques;
- documents, for future reference, each step of the research process as well as source materials consulted.
- Analyzes search results and selects relevant sources and
- considers authority, bias, accuracy and other criteria to determine the value of sources, e.g., author's credentials, publisher's reputation;
- evaluates appropriateness of sources for a particular information need (e.g., peer-reviewed and popular publications, primary and secondary sources);
- captures, records, and manages pertinent citation information using bibliographic management software or other means;
- understands the procedures for obtaining material available locally or through interlibrary loan, document delivery services, and other means;
- considers refining the search strategy if the number or relevancy of sources does not meet expectations.
- Synthesizes the ideas and concepts from the information sources collected and
- combines research with original thought, experimentation, and analysis;
- selects a communication medium (e.g., narrative text, video, website, etc.) appropriate to the purpose of the research and intended audience;
- chooses an appropriate documentation style and uses it consistently to cite sources.
- Understands the legal, ethical, economic, and public policy issues related to the production and use of information and information technology and
- is aware of the social, political, and economic factors that influence which research is undertaken and what gets published;
- understands what constitutes plagiarism and recognizes when ideas and concepts need to be attributed;
- understands intellectual property, copyright, and fair use of copyrighted material;
- legally acquires, stores, and distributes text, data, images, sounds or videos;
- understands issues relating to freedom of access to information and censorship;
- understands privacy and security issues related to both the print and electronic environments.
- Regularly transfers information seeking skills to each new information need and
- is able to apply skills and techniques of the information seeking process across a variety of academic disciplines;
- builds on existing knowledge of the research process to address future academic, work-related and personal information needs.
Developed by Bowdoin College librarians, March 2004. Portions of this document were inspired by: The Mission of Bowdoin College; and adapted from Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, American Library Association (Association of College and Research Libraries); and Information Literacy Competencies and Criteria for Academic Libraries in Wisconsin, (Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians)