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Exploring Faculty-Librarian Collaboration

An inventory of examples and materials helping to explore faculty-librarian collaborations.

What is it?

Information literacy, the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2015), is often the starting point for building an effective faculty-librarian collaboration (Johnson & Magusin, 2005).

Information literacy as a phrase was coined by Paul Zurkowski in 1974 (Johnson & Magusin, 2005) but did not get significant exposure in the literature until 1989 with Breivik and Gee's landmark work Information literacy: Revolution in the library.

Starting Points for Background on Information Literacy

Association of College and Research Libraries. (2015). Introduction to information literacy. Retrieved from

Association of College and Research Libraries. (2015). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Retrieved from

Breivik, P. Senn, & Gee, E. G. (1989). Information literacy: Revolution in the library. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Macmillan.

Curzon, S. C. (2004). Developing faculty-librarian partnerships in information literacy. In I. F. Rockman (Ed.), Integrating information

     literacy into the higher education curriculum: Practical models for transformation (pp. 29-45). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Eisenberg, M. B. Lowe, C. A., & Spitzer, K. L. (2004). Information literacy: Essential skills for the information age (2nd ed.). Westport,

     CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Johnson, K., & Magusin, E. (2005). Beyond the mechanics of online retrieval: Information literacy. In Exploring the digital library: A

     guide for online teaching and learning. pp. 89-100. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

What to do with it?

Use the new ACRL information literacy Frames to explore threshold concepts. Threshold concepts originated as faculty pedagogical research within disciplines, but they are great starting points for collaboration among disciplinary faculty, librarians, teaching and learning center staff, and others.

What can you do, as faculty?

  • Investigate threshold concepts in your discipline and gain an understanding of the approach used in the Framework as it applies to the discipline you know.
    • What are the specialized information skills in your discipline that students should develop, such as using primary sources (history) or accessing and managing large data sets (science)?
  • Help students view themselves as information producers, individually and collaboratively.
    • In your program, how do students interact with, evaluate, produce, and share information in various formats and modes?
  • Consider the knowledge practices and dispositions in each information literacy frame for possible integration into your own courses and academic program.
    • How might you and a librarian design learning experiences and assignments that will encourage students to assess their own attitudes, strengths/weaknesses, and knowledge gaps related to information?

Association of College and Research Libraries. (2015). Framewrok for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

PIL: Project Information Literacy

Project Information Literacy (PIL) is a non-profit, large-scale national study involving over 200 institutions in the U.S. conducted in partnership with the University of Washington's iSchool and led by Dr. Alison J. Head. Its aim is to investigate the research habits and modalities of young adults and adults. The PIL team states:

           "Our goal is to understand how early adults conceptualize and operationalize research activities for course work and "everyday   life" use and especially how they resolve issues of credibility, authority, relevance, and currency in the digital age. We have collected data from over 13,000 "early adults" enrolled in more than 60 community colleges and public and private colleges and universities in the U.S."

Project Information Literacy (May 5, 2015). About: What is PIL? Retrieved from on May 22, 2015.

What have others done?

Starting points in literature:

Brasley, S. S. (2008). Effective librarian and discipline faculty collaboration models for integrating information literacy into the fabric of an

     academic institution. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 114, 71-88. doi:10.1002/tl.318

Cha, T.-Y., & Hsieh, P.-N. (2009). A Case Study of Faculty Attitudes toward Collaboration with Librarians to Integrate Information Literacy

     into the Curriculum. Journal of Educational Media & Library Sciences, 46(4), 441-467.

Hayes-Bohanan, P.; Spievak, E. (2008): You can lead students to sources, but can you make them think? College & Undergraduate

     Libraries, 15(1-2),  173-210.

Ivey, R. (2003). Information literacy: how do librarians and academics work in partnership to deliver effective learning programs?

     Australian Academic and Research Libraries, 34(2), 100-113.

Johnston, B., & Webber, S. (2003). Information literacy in higher education: A review and case study. Studies in Higher Education, 28(3),


Leckie, G. J., & Fullerton, A. (1999). Information literacy in science and engineering undergraduate education: Faculty attitudes and

     pedagogical practices. College & Research Libraries, 60(1), 9-29.

Lindstrom, J., & Shonrock, D. D. (2006). Faculty-librarian collaboration to achieve integration of information literacy. Reference & User

     Services Quarterly, 46(1), 18-23.

Reece, G. J. (2005). Critical thinking and cognitive transfer: Implications for the development of online information literacy tutorials.

     Research Strategies, 20(4), 482-493.

A critical perspective

Using the format of the online learning object / resource guide (often called a LibGuide) can pose some problems for students, especially if we want them to think critically about sources.

Alison Hicks, in her exploration of information literacy implications of using LibGuides, suggests new ways of conceptualizing sources and information.

Hicks, A. (2015, April 14). LibGuides: Pedagogy to oppress? Hybrid Pedagogy. Retrieved from