Book Reviews

Dave Harmeyer and Janice J. Baskin. Implementing the Information Literacy Framework: A Practical Guide for Librarians. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018. 279p. Paper, $65.00 (ISBN 978-1-5381-0757-7). LC 2017048324.

Book cover: Implementing the Information Literacy Framework: A Practical Guide for Librarians

In 2015 the Association of College & Research Libraries’ Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education replaced the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, the latter document being rescinded by ACRL. With the removal of the Standards from the ACRL website entirely, the decisive nature of this change has had profound effects on the teaching of information literacy in academic libraries. Gone were the Standards with their clear statements about what an information-literate student will be capable of accomplishing. In their place the Framework provided six now-familiar threshold concepts called “frames,” introducing new levels of flexibility and adaptability to information literacy education. However, the Framework does not recommend best practices or guidelines for teaching these frames. The utility of the information literacy frames clearly extends beyond the “walls” of the library to the classroom, where teaching faculty may find the concepts have a natural fit within their subject curriculum. What should be the nature of librarians’ collaborations with faculty? Dave Harmeyer and Janice J. Baskin’s book aims to provide practical assistance to librarians and classroom faculty in using the Framework to collaborate in teaching students to think conceptually about information literacy, as well as having the intellectual tools to learn new information literacy skills throughout their lives. The authors use their experiences as an academic librarian and a professor of English to describe how the Framework can be addressed from both library and classroom perspectives.

The first two chapters of the book bring all practitioners, librarians and faculty, up to speed on information literacy. The first chapter presents an introduction to information literacy, providing historical context for the development of the concept and introducing the revised (2015) ACRL definition of information literacy and the six “frames” of information literacy, specifically: Authority is constructed and contextual; Information creation as a process; Information has value; Research as inquiry; Scholarship as conversation; and Searching as strategic exploration.

To further place the ACRL Framework within the context of national and global efforts to increase understanding of information literacy, the authors discuss the description and definition of the information literacy concept by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the National Forum on Information Literacy (NFIL), the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), Project Information Literacy (PIL), the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), the National Education Association (NEA), and the Big6 model.

The second chapter explores the transition from the Standards to the Framework in detail. This narrative is very useful for librarians and instructors familiar with teaching information literacy from the Standards. The roots of the Framework came out of the examination of the work by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) in 2007. Instead of focusing on information literacy proficiency as demonstrated mastery of a set of skills, AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner focused on defining a desired outcome, an “independent learner,” in terms of four characteristics. This shifting of emphasis from the “how” of skill acquisition to the “why” of process understanding to achieve an outcome resonated with the architects of the Framework. In creating the Framework, the ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education Task Force recognized that the Standards had established information literacy as a core educational concern and that subsequent fruitful and critical discourse suggested that it was necessary to set down a new model for information literacy. The authors created three excellent tables in the chapter that place the Standards side by side with the frames, then provide mappings of the related frames to the Standards and vice versa.

The next chapter looks into five great strategies that existed pre-Framework, along with development steps to get things moving on them within the year. After a brief consideration of five milestones of information literacy in librarianship, the chapter covers empowering faculty to teach information literacy, making information literacy a campuswide initiative, creating a collaborative K–12 information literacy community, developing an information literacy assessment, and starting a for-credit information literacy course. The information literacy assessment example provided a complete search plan assignment for students, along with a rubric for grading to gather data. The authors provide enough information that the reader can easily structure a similar assignment for their institution.

The next two chapters, chapters 4 and 5, present first the classroom teachers’ perspective on how to integrate information literacy instruction (and the librarians’ collaboration) into the classroom culture, then the librarians’ perspective on working with teaching faculty successfully and integrating into their learning communities. Understanding these perspectives, for example the teaching faculty perception of librarians as technical professionals but not teachers, informs chapter 6, “Tips for Creating a Framework Campus Culture.” The three tips include step-by-step approaches, including suggested speech scripts, handouts, and rubrics as appropriate. Time spent building faculty familiarity with the Framework, and getting librarians more comfortable with communicating using the frames, will help align everyone’s efforts to promote student information literacy.

In chapter 7, the authors find inspiration from a 2015 article by Betsy Reichart and Christina Elvidge, presenting a four-step plan for developing a Framework-centric online course on information literacy, including suggested skill elements to teach that correspond to desired frames of the Framework. Ideas for using the Framework with the familiar CRAP test (Conversation, Revision, Authority, and Property), with guided discussions through online discussion boards and face-to-face sessions and with social media platforms, are presented with sufficient detail to direct the librarian and allow for customization for local learning environments. The chapter concludes with a synthesis of six thoughts on implementing the Framework from a paper by ACRL Framework task force cochairs Trudi Jacobson and Craig Gibson.

Chapters 8 and 9 represent the heart of the book. Each chapter presents a set of teaching aids for three of the frames. First, the authors diagram each frame with its “frame distinctions,” or set of terms and concepts unique to that frame. These frame distinctions then inform sample student learning objectives (SLOs), complete assignments along with handouts, and a grading rubric. These assignments and rubrics are well thought out, and the authors encourage readers to copy, modify, and use the rubrics directly from the text or PDF and Word files available from the book’s website. The chapters also include scenarios of the dialogue between a classroom faculty member and a librarian who are collaborating on teaching the frame. While such scenario dialogues can seem artificial, they play a useful role in allowing the authors to explore likely real-world questions that librarians will face from faculty. While a reader well versed in the Framework could skip to this material and implement it right away, it would be a mistake to neglect the earlier chapters, as they represent an opportunity to build team awareness and understanding of the Framework.

The final brief chapter discusses some issues and concerns as information literacy instruction develops post-Framework, including the need for greater collaboration and assessment.

Each chapter in the book ends with excellent References and Further Reading sections for the interested reader to build upon the information presented. The appendices are helpful additions, including learning tools like flashcards for information literacy frames and frame bookmarks. The book charts, graphics, and tables are clear and well integrated into the text.

This book represents a significant contribution to both the practical understanding and implementation of the ACRL Framework and will be useful to academic public services librarians in general as well as for instruction-focused librarians as a guide and a reference.—Scott Curtis, University of Missouri–Kansas City

Copyright Scott Curtis

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