Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 290 2017
estimate of 1 hour of class time and 2 hours of preparation time per
session, we spent 3,294 hours either teaching or preparing to teach.
With a high estimate of 50 librarians whose assignments included
instruction among many other responsibilities for that particular
year, each instructor spent around 66 hours that year on instruction.
Clearly, library instruction is a major area of resource investment
both at our institution, and in the ARL community as a whole.
Given the amount of effort invested in library instruction, it is
understandable that the profession has long emphasized both guiding
and assessing these efforts. The Information Literacy Competency
Standards for Higher Education,3 approved by the Board of Directors
of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) in 2000,
have guided library instruction efforts for 16 years. These standards
define information literacy as a set of abilities requiring individuals
to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to
locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” It was
only in June 2016 that the ACRL’s Board of Directors rescinded
the standards, having adopted the much broader Framework
for Information Literacy for Higher Education in January 2016.4
The latter focuses on information literacy through six “frames”:
authority is constructed and is contextual, information creation is
a process, information has value, research as inquiry, scholarship
as conversation, and searching as strategic conversation.
The question of assessing library instruction is pertinent to both
the Standards and the Framework, although the methodologies are
somewhat complicated. For a long time (and perhaps still to some
extent), library instruction evaluation depended primarily on the use of
input measures. However, in recent years, outcomes-based assessment
has heavily influenced the library instruction community. Elaborating
meaningful outcomes-based assessment measures for the six frames is
arguably harder than for the earlier standards, as the skills associated
with the frames are more dependent on and influenced by the whole
educational experience of the student and not just library instruction.
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