Information Literacy Standards and Outcomes for Students

As defined by the Association of College and Research Libraries, "information literacy" is the ability to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information (Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. ACRL: Chicago, 2000). It is a component of lifelong learning, and one of the competencies acquired in a liberal arts education. The concept is an outgrowth of "computer literacy," but in the era of exploding digital information sources, students who may be very capable technology users can struggle with finding, critically evaluating, assimilating, and communicating information. If students lack critical thinking and writing skills as well as information literacy skills, carrying out college-level assignments can be very difficult.

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges' (NEASC) Standards for Accreditation include information literacy as an expected outcome of undergraduate education, and the expectation for student use of library resources (see Standard Four: Academic Program and Seven: Library and Other Information Resources). Although information literacy goals for specific disciplines, programs or departments are best identified by faculty, with assistance from librarians as needed, UNE Library Services recommend the following competencies be acquired by all students:

 Undergraduate students will be able to:

  • Understand how materials are organized in the UNE Library.
  • Be familiar with the UNE Library Services' Home Page.
  • Construct effective search strategies.
  • Search the UNE Library catalog by keyword, title, author and subject heading.
  • Use a general academic database, such as ProQuest Central.
  • Read the most common forms of citations.
  • Distinguish between scholarly and popular information sources.
  • Distinguish between free Web sources and fee-based Web sources.
  • Evaluate an information source for quality and appropriateness.
  • Understand how to use information ethically and accurately cite sources in an appropriate style format.

Graduate students will be able to:

  • Define and articulate their need for information; and identify the librarian liaison for their discipline or subject area.
  • Identify, access and use a variety of relevant resources within their discipline (e.g., books, ebooks, journals, ejournals, reference tools, government documents, primary/secondary sources, Internet resources, etc.).
  • Locate information within the UNE Library or order it through Interlibrary Loan (ILL) as appropriate.
  • Evaluate and select information for quality, accuracy, authority, and reliability, using informed judgment.
  • Construct effective search strategies.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of copyright and fair use.
  • Cite information completely and accurately according to the appropriate style format.


Please consult the Library Research Instruction and Training Page for information about our services to support teaching.