Annotations for “Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices: A Guideline”

Annotations for “Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices: A Guideline”

Assessment and evaluation

Although in this document the terms evaluation and assessment are used interchangeably, for educators these terms have different meanings. For example, according to Frank Hodnett, “Evaluation is to determine significance or worth or judging the effectiveness or worth of educational programs. Assessment is to determine a rate or amount and is used as an activity to measure student learning and other human characteristics. Put more simply we assess people and evaluate things or objects.” (Frank Hodnett, Evaluation versus Assessment, Spring 2001)


Collaboration implies not only cooperation, but also active sharing in the work of the instructional program.

Environmental scans

Environmental scanning is “the systematic collection of external information” related to “social, economic, and political” trends that may affect an organization’s future. (“Environmental Scanning,” by James L Morrison. In Meredith A. Whiteley, John D. Porter, and Robert H. Fenske, eds. The Primer for Institutional Research. Tallahassee, FL: The Association for Institutional Research, 1992, pp. 86-99.)


Excellence has been a topic of discussion throughout the development of these characteristics, both within the Best Practices groups and with outside contributors. The usual question is “Can a program which exemplifies only some or most of the characteristics be considered excellent?” Because these characteristics are meant to be considered within the context of an individual library and its institution, it is probable that some characteristics would be inappropriate for some information literacy programs. Therefore, a program could be considered excellent that incorporates only some of the characteristics.

Formal and informal networks and media channels

Formal mechanisms may include official reports or documentation, journal articles, meetings, forums, library newsletters and websites, etc. Informal may include meetings, email, phone, hallway conversations, billboards, text alerts, classes, and social media, etc. Media channels may include radio, television, student newspapers, faculty newsletters, and any other such news sources for the institution. It could also include media channels directly connected to the library such as library newsletters, websites and social media.

Formative and summative

Formative assessment is conducted while a project is in process, which allows for adjustments during the course of the project, and summative assessment or evaluation is conducted upon project completion. Either method may be conducted in short- or long-term assessments. However, other methods may be more appropriate for the purposes of the evaluation.

Governance structures

Governance structures are the bodies in an institution that have authority over the decision-making processes of that institution.

Information Literacy

There is no universal definition of information literacy. Ideally, an institution will develop an institution-wide definition and operationalization of information literacy and associated outcomes. These may be based on national guidelines or standards such as those promulgated by ACRL.

Institutional stakeholders

Examples of institutional stakeholders include the library, students, faculty (adjunct and tenure-track), institutional support services, campus assessment offices, centers and programs.


Leadership refers to those in charge of the program, how the leadership fits into the organizational structure of the institution, and who is expected to participate in the program, including any support staff.

Media resources

Media resources may include analog, digital or virtual media, or any other type of media that can facilitate teaching and learning.

Mission statement

The mission statement describes the overall purpose of the organization. It may reflect the values and priorities for the organization. (Jeffrey Abrahams. The Mission Statement Book: 301 Corporate Mission Statements from America’s Top Companies. Revised. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1999.)

Examples of mission statements:

The Southern Oregon University Hannon Library’s Information Literacy and Instruction Program serves students, faculty, and staff by supporting the instructional mission of the Library and the University. Our mission is to teach students to think critically and use information for their academic, professional, and personal lives–helping them define information needs, then locate, evaluate, and use all available information resources effectively and responsibly. We are committed to anticipating and embracing changes in the information and instructional environment, and collaborating with the academic community to foster a shared sense of enjoyment and empowerment in the pursuit of lifelong, self-directed learning. (2015)

The mission of the Leatherby Libraries Information Literacy Program is to provide the Chapman University community with lifelong information literacy skills. Information literacy “is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning.”1 The program supports the University’s mission “to provide personalized education of distinction that leads to inquiring, ethical, and productive lives as global citizens” and the Library’s mission “to provide personalized services and relevant collections in support of the curricular, creative, and scholarly needs of the Chapman University community to ensure the development of the information-literate global citizen.” (Chapman University, 2016)

Lane Community College Library strives to educate information-literate lifelong learners. Information literacy enhances the pursuit of knowledge by preparing students to think critically and use information for their academic, professional, and personal lives. [no date]

Process and product

Student outcomes should be measured in terms of the quality of the product as well as the processes the student used to create the product.


In many institutions this would mean that such involvements and achievements would be acknowledged as important in the awarding of tenure and/or promotion. In most, it would certainly count for yearly performance assessments and salary increases.

Staffing levels

In this instance, appropriate staffing levels refers to all involved in an information literacy program, and could include any of the academic support units or centers on campus, such as learning centers, teaching centers, and IT units.