Information Literacy Statement for Aberystwyth University
Aim: To achieve a consistent and equitable offering of Information Literacy learning opportunities to all AU students on taught courses and to deliver information literate graduates.
Context: Valuable collaborative activity between teaching staff and subject librarians is already taking place successfully across much of the University. We need to build on this existing good practice to meet all taught students’ information literacy needs.
- Information literacy skills have been shown to improve the individual student’s academic grade[i]
- Information literacy skills can improve student satisfaction with library resources.
- Information literacy skills have been shown to contribute to the development of transferable skills valued by employers[ii]
- Information literacy skills can prepare students for entry into higher degrees and research[iii]
- Develop life skills: the academic strands of information literacy are part of a larger skill set e.g. managing your digital footprint, avoiding online fraud, recognising fake news and using the internet effectively to save time and money.
- Increased confidence in using library resources can support student retention[iv]
For teaching staff
- Contribute to improved retention levels by helping new students with the transition to higher education by providing them with the skills needed to use AU information resources
- Benefit from having access to local knowledge pool of subject librarians to advise and deal with enquiries on finding information
- Sessions on plagiarism can cut down on number of unacceptable academic practice cases to be investigated and dealt with.
- Meet professional body’s validation criteria e.g. the Law Society/Solicitors Regulation
- Meet QAA Honours Degree Subject Benchmarks[v]
- Help to meet the priorities of the TEF e.g. Information literacy is one of a range of ‘soft skills’ recognised within the TEF as part of good teaching[vi]
- Improved online KIS stats, including class of degree, which can help with recruitment
For the library
- Ensure that library resources are being used effectively and efficiently
- Increase usage of library resources, especially electronic resources, thereby improving value for money
- Exploiting the expertise of subject librarians who have in-depth knowledge of information resources in their subject area and how to search them effectively
- Improve impact of the library in the student experience
- By consulting with academic departments annually to learn about existing information literacy provision with a department, identifying any gaps which a subject librarian might successfully meet, and producing an implementation plan to address these gaps and any resourcing issues for the coming session.
- By offering at least one information literacy teaching activity for all UG students in each taught year of their course and for all taught PG students in the first year of their course.
- By delivering an Information Services welcome presentation to new undergraduate students in each academic department at the beginning of the course
- (where the subject librarian is delivering information literacy teaching) by preparing and delivering the teaching session and recording and uploading to Panopto as appropriate, and uploading any other class materials including pre-prepared video to Blackboard
- By reminding academic departments that they are happy to provide information literacy update presentations, workshops or one-to-one for staff on request
- By continuing to provide one-to-one support on request, also optional training and self-help resources
- By being involved in the development of academic skills modules by departments / institutes
Definition of Information Literacy
The Society of College, National and University Librarians (SCONUL) Seven Pillars of Information Literacy model defines information literacy as the ability to “gather, use, manage, synthesise and create information and data in an ethical manner”[vii]. The model is a useful tool as it makes clear the range of skills required for information literacy.
Appendix: Information Literacy partner teaching case studies
1. School of Art
Module: Looking into Landscape (1st year core module) (Harry Heuser)
Teaching materials: Powerpoint, image of Caspar David Friedrich’s Die einsame Baum [The Solitary Tree], 1822; box of library materials (approximately 20 books).
I hold regular drop-in sessions in the School of Art on Tuesday afternoons which are well attended. During these sessions students usually ask practical questions – how to find X article, how to begin searching for information on a new topic, etc.
Previously I had been invited to the School of Art during semester 1 to speak about finding library resources as part of one of the core modules which include both Fine Art and Art History students. This module is focussed on the history of landscape art but also operates as a ‘skills module’: activities and assessments are based on formal observation of art works, developing a critical vocabulary, contextualisation, etc.
Rather than come to a single lecture to give information on how to find information in the library, the module convenor asked if we could hold a session looking at the evaluation of texts and information, but specifically in the context of the module. We decided on a seminar setting with exercises that would:
- Focus on that week’s theme of contextualisation
- Consider the different types of text that they might use in their research as part of the module
- Introduce the concept of, and techniques for evaluating information and sources
The seminar was repeated for four groups in mid-November. Seminars were 2 hours long. The Information Literacy section filled about half this time – the seminar also included discussion and questions around the previous lectures (Romanticism in Britain, America, Germany, etc.). The library/information section was co-taught/facilitated by the Academic Engagement Librarian and module convenor.
We began with a single painting – Die einsame Baum by Friedrich. This artist had been discussed in the lecture, but not this specific painting. The image was shown without a caption to begin with, and the group was asked to discuss the content of the painting on a purely formal level. After this we discussed the limits of understanding an art work based purely on observation. The caption was added to the image, and the group was asked about how adding this small amount of information provided context and affected their understanding of the work (i.e., when it was made, that it was a German artist, that it is in the collection of the National Gallery in Berlin), and asked then to consider the picture in relation to the themes of the module.
After this, we moved on to the library resources exercise. Instructions were as follows:
Provided are a selection of library material which might be helpful to understand the context of a painting. Browse the material and think about how they might relate to the painting under discussion. Everyone choose a one text – (it doesn’t matter which). In pairs/threes, discuss the texts you have selected in relation to following questions:
- How would you describe this text? What kind of text is it?
- What, do you think, is the intended audience? How can you tell?
- Besides historical facts and interpretation (content), what other important and useful material does a text like this provide?
- How would you describe and classify these documents? How do they differ from each other?
- What can they tell about who wrote/published the text?
- When was it produced, and what considerations should you make when using it
Material included was deliberately varied to emphasise the process of evaluation and the theme of contextualisation. The selection included: exhibition catalogues about Friedrich, books on Romanticism in Germany and the history of German art, but also books on the history of Germany, a hand-guide for recognising trees; a book of Goethe’s poetry; the Rough Guide to Germany; anthologies of artists’ writings, etc.
In the reporting/discussion, students focussed on themes including
- The differences between academic/popular texts
- The validity and reliability of sources
We also moved on to some practical considerations, such as:
Recognising whether an item is a monograph, periodical or exhibition catalogue and the purposes of these publications;
Using the apparatus of the book – index, colophon, illustrations, and thinking about currency, date of publication and usefulness
- How finding useful material involves more than searching for the name of an author, artist, etc.
A more practical aspect to the teaching – not simply seen as demonstrating search techniques.
Showed variety of material available, normalise using a variety of materials
Made students familiar with the Academic Engagement Librarian and how they can help with research/study skills (increased traffic to the drop-in sessions).
Lloyd Roderick: Academic Engagement Librarian
Module: PS31520 Critical Review
I was contacted by James Greville about co-teaching on the Critical Review module. He thought my knowledge of search strategies and managing information would contribute to a crucial part of the module. I was involved from the outset in the planning stages, where we discussed course content, structure and logistics. I agreed to cover search strategies, searching databases and Primo, EndNote and handling search results.
The first session concentrated on an overview of the module by James. This included input from me on relevant databases for searching. I then moved on to provide training on EndNote and utilising the software for selection criteria based on their research protocols.
Before the second lecture, I met up with Zhimin He to discuss search strategies, using databases and saving records. I also gave her my presentation slides as I was not available on the date of the session. This was a useful meeting as Zhimin is fairly new to the Department so we were able to discuss AU resources available in more detail.
Next I met up with students in one to one sessions. We looked at search strategies, finding appropriate resources and using EndNote. Meeting students individually was a really useful way of developing their distinctive search strategies and respond to specific issues they were encountering with their research.
The final session involved all three staff and I was available to answer student queries in the session.
I had positive feedback from James after the module was completed. MEQ comments were very positive and James is hoping to run the module in a similar vein next year.
Sarah Gwenlan: Academic Engagement Librarian
[i] Shao, & Purpur. (2016). Effects of Information Literacy Skills on Student Writing and Course Performance. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 42(6), 670-678.
Chen, Y. (2015). Testing the impact of an information literacy course: Undergraduates' perceptions and use of the university libraries' web portal. Library and Information Science Research, 37(3), 263.
Shreeve, S., & Chelin, J. (2014). Value and Impact of Librarians’ Interventions on Student Skills Development. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 00.
Deborah Goodall, & David Pattern. (2011). Academic library non/low use and undergraduate student achievement: A preliminary report of research in progress. Library Management, 32(3), 159-170.
[ii] Inskip, C. (2014). Information literacy is for life, not just for a good degree: A literature review. (Information Literacy Project 26 ). Charted Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP): London, (Information Literacy Project 26 ). Charted Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP): London, UK.
[iii] Academic Engagement Team, Information Services. "Aberystwyth University - Services For Researchers". https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/help/academicstaff/researchers/ . N.p., 2017. Web. 28 Mar. 2017. https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/help/academicstaff/researchers/ . N.p., 2017. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
[iv] Mezick, Elizabeth M. (2014). Relationship of Library Assessment to Student Retention. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(1), 31-36.
Haddow, G. (2013). Academic library use and student retention: A quantitative analysis. Library & Information Science Research, 35(2), 127-136.
[v] QAA. Subject Benchmark Statement: BioSciences. 2015. Online. Last viewed: 18/08/16. Last updated: November 2015. URL: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/docs/qaa/subject-benchmark-statements/sbs-biosciences-15.pdf
[vi] Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice. 2016. Online. Last viewed: 18/08/16. Last update: May 2016. URL:
[vii] SCONUL Working Group on Information Literacy. Seven pillars of Information Literacy core model. 2011. Online. Last viewed: 23/08/16. Last updated: April 2011. URL: http://www.sconul.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/coremodel.pdf
This Policy is maintained by Information Services, was last reviewed in May 2023 and is due for review in May 2024