Climbing off the fence: Threshold concepts for information literacy

Posted on 30 September 2014 at 9:38 am in Musings.

I’ve done a lot of fence sitting in my comments about the new framework for information literacy instruction and its central tenet, the threshold concepts for information literacy. That was in part because I was still digesting the new ideas, and in part because some librarians I really respect had strong (and divergent) opinions, and I wasn’t sure yet where I fell.

Lions-Gate-Mycenae.jpg
Lions-Gate-Mycenae” by Andreas Trepte. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

But I’ve had some time for reflection, I’ve had time to incorporate aspects of the new framework into my practice, and I was able to immerse myself in the ideas behind the new framework while preparing my talk at the Kentucky Library Association.

I do have some concerns about language used in the new framework. I think some of the definitions of the threshold concepts are troublesome and need continued work (I’m looking at you, information has value), while others aren’t quite intuitive as written. I’m still not sure why “metaliteracy” needs to be included at all. I’m also curious how we can create continuity with the ACRL Standards from 2000, and how we’ll get faculty to buy into new ideas that are more challenging to explain.

But. I’m climbing off the fence.

I like the new framework. I especially like the threshold concepts as a pivot point for library instruction. Telling students where to click in the database is not teaching them how to effectively use information, and the new framework pushes us to be better, more engaged instructors. The research that backs it up resonates with me and my personal, professional experience. I think it moves us forward. I’m on board. More on this soon.

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