Exploring strategies for integrated information literacy: From academic champions to institution-wide change

McGuinness, Claire (2007) Exploring strategies for integrated information literacy: From academic champions to institution-wide change. Communications in information literacy, 1 (1). pp. 26-38. ISSN 1933-5954


While academic institutions fail to recognize IL as a core educational value, librarians continue to seek out innovative ways to integrate IL instruction into the curriculum. Although the literature of Library and Information Science (LIS) is replete with examples of librarians' resourcefulness and drive in promoting the IL agenda in their institutions, evidence suggests that IL is still treated as an elective skill set on the periphery of the core curriculum in most disciplines. One of the key strategies employed by librarians has been to seek out and cultivate the support of individual academics through identifying topical problem areas for which IL instruction seems to offer a potential solution. Examples include undergraduate retention rates and plagiarism. One of the aims of this paper is to critically examine the effectiveness of this strategy with regard to building and sustaining long-term teaching partnerships between librarians and academics. Through a review of the literature, a number of flaws are identified that call into question whether targeting these so-called individual academic champions offers the best means of ensuring curriculum-embedded IL instruction on an institution-wide scale. Although the factors that contribute to successful collaboration and integration can be difficult to categorize and replicate, an emerging consensus in the literature suggests that the best route to recognition for IL in academia lies in developing a top-down approach, through which IL is included as a core value in the academic mission and culture of the institution and is viewed as an essential element of all academic curricula, regardless of discipline. A further aim of the paper is to suggest a number of strategies through which this strategic goal may be achieved, including the identification and exploitation of restructuring opportunities on an institutional level, as well as the inclusion of IL as a professional development opportunity for academics.

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