Information Literacy Competencies Statement

In response to faculty concerns about student research as well as the new Middle States Commission on Higher Education standards and guidelines for information literacy, a committee of librarians from Library and Technology Services has worked on the development of base-line information competencies that would be acquired by all Lehigh University graduates. The expectation is that during their educational experience at Lehigh, all students will master certain competencies that will enable them to effectively find, evaluate, apply, integrate and ethically use information.

At Lehigh, discussions are taking place on making information mastery a student learning goal.  Campus librarians are ready to help build Lehigh's capacity to deliver on the goal of information competency across the curriculum.  Faculty members in several colleges are looking at student learning outcomes and determining what every graduate should know.  A committee on information literacy has been convened by Bruce Taggart, the Vice Provost for Library & Technology Services. 

College students most readily learn to become effective researchers and skilled writers when academic requirements include substantive work using library resources and when they are guided to understand the complex information environments of their disciplines. There is a natural synergy between being a knowledgeable user of information and being a critical thinker.  While the general education goal of information competency applies to all students, students need expertise in using and evaluating information unique to their disciplines at the junior year and above.  Our information competency expectations include both general education and major-specific goals.

In addition to having students use the quality information sources and library collections in their course assignments, librarians wish to help students evaluate sources beyond the library on the open and chaotic Internet.   Our faculty has expressed an interest in the library taking a more active role in open web resource evaluation. Our students are on the web; we need to guide their informed use of information found there.

In a networked world where information increases exponentially and the ease and ubiquity of information is heightened by the phenomenon of the World Wide Web, the college experience should include substantive learning about information.  Students are generally naive, overconfident or stressed about their ability to find reliable information.  The realities of lifelong learning, job change, the pace of information growth, and globalization demand that our students continue their learning after Lehigh.  A serious commitment to information competency will help our graduates succeed in their personal and professional lives beyond Lehigh.

Our LTS Information Literacy committee (Roseann Bowerman, Jean Johnson and Kathe Morrow) has investigated the new Middle States requirements.  We are discussing how those requirements might impact curricular design and planning across and within our four colleges as they pertain to our 2008 Middle States review preparation.  This document defines core information literacy competencies, outlines a campus planning process and offers a proposed framework for fostering information literacy skills at Lehigh University.