Failure of ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education on civic engagement and social justice

June 25, 2014 at 10:23 am Leave a comment

From: “Shana Higgins” <>
Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 10:07:42 AM
Subject: [WGSS-L] Social Justice and Civic Engagement in the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education


We are concerned that the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education does little to incorporate and explicitly articulate important critical habits of mind of information literacy development such as civic engagement and addressing social justice issues. We appreciate that the new Framework attempts to revise the Standards that defined information literacy in mechanistic, reified terms. The model of “frames” takes into account these critiques insofar as the articulation of information literacy offers space for the contextual nature of research, scholarship, and information-seeking practices. We are heartened by “frames” such as “Research as Inquiry,” indicating that inquiry “extends beyond the academic world…” (pt. 1, line 491) and may focus on “personal, professional, or societal needs” (pt. 1, lines 493-494); and “Authority is Constructed and Contextual,” acknowledging that “various communities may recognize different types of authority” (pt. 2, lines 18-19). Yet these moves do not go far enough toward a practice of critical information literacy.*


Emphasizing social inclusion; cultural, historical, and socioeconomic contexts; access issues; critical awareness of the mechanisms of establishing authority, including academic authority; and civic and community engagement would strengthen the Framework. Furthermore it would recognize the growing community of librarians committed to social justice and civic engagement. We look forward to opportunities for discussion of and to provide more specific suggestions for better inclusion of civic engagement and social justice issues in the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. 


Would you also like to see social justice/civic engagement clearly articulated in the new ACRL Framework? Join us:




Andrea Baer, Undergraduate Education Librarian, Indiana University Libraries, Bloomington

Andrew Battista, Librarian for Geospatial Information Systems, New York University

Carrie Donovan, Head, Teaching & Learning, Indiana University Libraries, Bloomington

Dave Ellenwood, Social Sciences Librarian, University of Washington, Bothell

Lua Gregory, First Year Experience & Humanities Librarian, University of Redlands

Shana Higgins, Interdisciplinary & Area Studies Librarian/Instruction Coordinator, University of Redlands

Jeff Lilburn, Public Services Librarian, Mount Allison University

Maura Seale, Research & Instruction Librarian, Georgetown University

Maura Smale, Associate Professor & Coordinator of Information Literacy and Library Instruction, New York City College of Technology

Yasmin Sokkar Harker, Legal Reference Librarian/Associate Law Library Professor, City University of New York Law School 

Christopher Sweet, Information Literacy Librarian, Illinois Wesleyan University

Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh, Sociology, Gerontology, and Data Services Librarian, Georgia State University



*See Gregory, L., & Higgins, S. (Eds.). (2013). Information literacy and social justice: Radical professional praxis. Sacramento, California: Library Juice Press.; Drabinski, E., Kumbier, A., & Accardi, M. (Eds.). (2010) Critical library instruction: Theories and methods. Duluth, Minnesota: Library Juice Press.; Elmborg, J. (2006). Critical information literacy: Implications for instructional practice. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32(2), 192-199.; Elmborg, J. (2012). Critical information literacy: Definitions and challenges. In C. W. Wilkinson & C. Bruch (Eds.), Transforming information literacy programs: Intersecting frontiers of self, library culture, and campus community (pp. 75-95). Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries.; Jacobs, H. L. M. (2008). Information literacy and reflective pedagogical praxis. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34(3), 256-262.;  Jacobs, H. L. M., & Berg, S. (2011). Reconnecting information literacy policy with the core values of librarianship. Library Trends 60(2), 383-394.; Kapitzke, C. (2003). Information literacy: A review and poststructural critique. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 26(1), 53-66.;

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). (2011). IFLA media and information literacy recommendations. Retrieved from; Samek, T. (2007). Librarianship and human rights: A twenty-first century guide. Oxford, England: Chandos Publishing.; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

& International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

(2005). Beacons of the information society: The Alexandria Proclamation for information

literacy and lifelong learning. Retrieved from



Entry filed under: Valdosta State University.

Public Library Engagement Typology ALA 2014-“Librarians Build Communities”

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