ACRL 2015, Part 2: The Framework

It was impossible to avoid the new Framework for Information Literacy (hereafter, the Framework) at the recent ACRL conference. For those of us that teach, it was a great chance to see how other are engaging with, using, and teaching the Framework. I attended several sessions that focused on teaching or assessment, so naturally the Framework was part of those discussions. I noticed some trends in the ways people were using the Framework to inform their practice.

1. The frame, “Research as inquiry” was one of the most commonly mentioned frames, along with “Scholarship as conversation” and “Searching as strategic exploration.” I didn’t do any type of real analysis of how many times each frame was mentioned, but I remember those three coming up fairly often. I found this interesting, because I think those three really get at the things we, as teachers, already want to do with our classes: show students that research comes early in the writing/thinking process and that different depths of research are appropriate for different tasks/goals, that information sources go through different processes and how those sources can be seen as in “conversation” with each other, and that searching involves more than the first thing you type in a search box. The other frames also came up, but I didn’t notice them to be as prominent as these three, with the exception of…

2. The frame, “Information has value” almost never got a mention. Why? Because I think we’re still stuck in the mindset that this involves simply teaching the importance of citing one’s sources. And truthfully, when librarians are given 50 minutes to teach a whole lot of things, I think we feel that the lesson for “how to cite” and “why to cite” can be passed back to the regular instructor. Moving forward with the Framework, I think it will be important for librarians to reconsider our traditional approach to this, and think about how much more complex the idea that “information has value” is than simply knowing how to create a citation.

3. There are still a lot of mixed feelings about the Framework. Most of the sessions where it was being explicitly discussed were standing-room-only full. In discussions with my own colleagues, I get the sense that many of us are still trying to make sense of what exactly we are supposed to do with this new format. Broadly speaking, though, I think it holds a lot of promise for one reason: It represents a critical shift in focus from teaching a hard set of specific skills, to trying to foster a greater understanding of what information is, how it is created and for what purpose, and how it can be used, among so many other things. I hope to spend some time, both in my work and hopefully on this blog, further unpacking each of the frames and spending some quality time just mulling over what they might mean for our always-changing practice.

This was my first ACRL conference, and it was a great experience. I reconnected with friends from graduate school, made some new acquaintances, and was challenged professionally to always be looking for new ideas and practices. I am looking forward to ACRL 2017, and all the conferences and gathering in between.

See Part 1 of my ACRL experiences: ACRL 2015, Part 1: Reading in Information Literacy Instruction.

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