LOEX 2019: the ACRL Framework

In stead of doing my usual session-by-session recap, I thought I’d go for more of a theme-based summary this year. This means that I have not gone through each session on its own, but rather tossed everything I attended on one subject into the same pot. I hope this works.

In 2015, the Association of college and research libraries (ARCL) replaced Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (known as the Standards) with Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (known as the Framework). It would be fair to say that this move got mixed feedback, and it was still a hot topic in many of the sessions at LOEX 2019.

Seeing as we in Norway do not have a framework or standards for information literacy, it may be hard to understand just how important this shift was for our American allies, but I have tried to read up on the framework itself as well as the mixed feedback it got (and still gets). This is something that I am interested in, so I prioritised going to sessions that emphasised the framework. And there were many of them..

Just a quick intro to the framework for those who are not familiar with them. The framework consists of six different frames: Authority is constructed and contextual, Information creation as a process, Information has value, Research as inquiry, Scholarship as conversation, and Searching as Strategic Exploration. The frames have descriptions on behaviour and dispositions for an expert in the field. The basic principle behind the framework is threshold concepts. The standards were easy to use, the framework is more conceptual in nature.

Joanna Thielen and Amanda Nichols Hess from Oakland University talked about how they had used the Scholarship as conversation, Information has value and Information creation as a process frames to make a course on reading journal articles for students. Nobody on campus were teaching students how to read journal articles, Thielen said. It is an underlying premiss that they know how to do it. (I couldn’t agree more! Journal articles have their own genre conventions that needs to be taught.) Thielen hands out two articles (one from a magazine, and one from a scholarly journal) on the same subject, and ask the students to fill out a form, identifying which article is from what kind of journal, and the students have to compare and contrast the articles. They take a poll on how often they are asked by their professors to read and understand scholarly journal articles, and what they find the most difficult. Thielen goes through all the different parts of an article, and she shows the students how to read it (in what order). Thielen suggests the following order: Title, author, reference, abstract, introduction, conclusion, headlines and subheadings, figures and figure texts, method, results and discussion. She also teaches them how to look up difficult words and how to annotate them onto the article. Toward the end of the lecture, Thielen gives tips on how to focus and concentrate (getting rid of abstractions etc.) before she gives them a new poll asking what the students can do to be able to concentrate. The feedback Thielen has had from students suggest that they use the new information to improve their study habits. Amanda Nichols Hess talked about how she had made an online version of this campus course. The online course is self-paced and they can print their own course certificate. Oakland has several online courses, on plagiarism and referencing, transfer students etc.

Image from powerpoint presentation about scholarly journals

Glenn Koelling and Alyssa Russo from University of New Mexico talked about how they had created a mystery room, based on the escape room ideas (only – we are not trying to get them to escape..). Escape rooms are about solving riddles to get out of the room, the mystery room was about solving riddles and clues to teach students about types of information sources. “A book is not a format, it is a medium”, Koelling said. Students see a reference list with links as websites, but in reality it can be websites, journal articles, encyclopaedias etc. I have to admit that I have never thought about this. One of the tasks in the mystery room was to rewrite a text as a magazine article, a journal article etc. This was connected to the “Information creation as a process” frame in the framework.

Koelling and Russo showed us how they used a receipt from Starbucks as one information format. What is it? What is the purpose? Who created the information? What can it show us? I really think we should talk more about this when we teach. How information is created and what the purpose is could really be helpful before we start talking about searching for journal articles. I will definitely use this particular frame more in the future. Koelling and Russo’s talk showed how this frame can be used creatively.

The three P system: purpose, process, product. This can be used when we talk to students about information formats.

the intellectual and physical structure of a receipt

Koelling and Russo were inspired by Hofer, Hanick and Townsend’s (2019) new book.

Having written about information literacy for years, it was such a pleasure to be able to listen to some of the authors of texts I have referenced so often. I was almost a little starstruck to be in the same room as Don Latham and Melissa Gross. They gave a lecture on peritext analysis. Peritext is text and images that surround text, such as cover, tables of content, notes, introduction etc. Latham and Gross have made Peritextual Literacy Framwork (PLF) that works with the ACRL Framework. In their new book (Witte, Latham & Gross, 2019) the authors discuss how peritext is a literacy that could and should be used when we teach students information skills.

Latham and Gross had a handout that showed the interaction between the PLF and the ACRL Framework. An example of peritext: headings/subheadings, page numbers, hyperlinks and hot links. These are in the PLF listed under the Navigation category. They can be connected to the “Research as Inquiry” frame in the ACRL Framework. Gross and Latham (2017) also wrote about how peritext can be used to support critical thinking.

In the lecture that I attended they used mainly the “Authority is contextual and constructed” frame. There is so much information in various formats, eg. linked content, sound, animations, commersials etc. that we need to help the students see what this content is. Who made the content? Can we trust it? Who is it made for? – what does this do to authority?

Students find it hard to use the right information in the right context. We know that not all information can be used in all contexts, but we don’t really discuss this much with our students. All data is created in a context, and we need to talk more about this.


Gross, M.&D. Latham (2017) The peritextual literacy framework: Using the functions of peritext to support critical thinking. In: Library & Information Science Research, 39(2), p. 116-123.

Hofer, A., Hanick, S. L. & Townsend, L. (2019) Transforming Information literacy instruction : threshold concepts in theory and practice. Santa Barbara, Cal: Libraries Unlimited.

Witte, S.,  Latham, D. & Gross, M. (2019) Literacy Engagement Through Peritextual Analysis. Chicago: ALA Editions.