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Overview of UMD Libraries' Information Literacy Program

What is information literacy?

The University of Maryland Libraries' information literacy program is designed to provide members of the University with the skills and knowledge needed to:

  • Characterize scholarship as a conversation with sustained discourse within a community of scholars or thinkers, with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of competing perspectives and interpretations.
  • Approach research as an iterative process that depends upon asking increasingly complex questions whose answers develop new questions or lines of inquiry.
  • Illustrate the notion that underlying questions about the value of information and its potential use are more significant than the physical packaging of the information.
  • Explain how authority is constructed and contextual.
  • Search for information effectively and in a strategic manner that requires refinement and adjusting.


Who teaches information literacy?

These groups provide the leadership in conducting the day-to-day activities that constitute the Libraries' information literacy program:

Teaching & Learning Services:
  • Design general learning tools (in a variety of formats);
  • Coordinate the Libraries participation at campus information fairs, orientations, and other key events;
  • Teach library instruction to pre-college (summer) courses, large first-year courses (e.g., ENGL 101, UNIV 101, GEMS 104), transfer and returning students, and the Professional Writing Program for juniors and seniors.

Librarian Liaisons to Academic Colleges, Schools and Departments

  • Design subject-specific learning tools (in a variety of formats);
  • Teach subject-specific library orientation sessions and classes for undergraduate and graduate courses;
  • Conduct customized tours for faculty, visiting researchers and scholars, and other individuals and groups.

Curators and Archivists

  • Design subject-specific guides and other learning tools specific to archives and special collections (in a variety of formats);
  • Teach subject-specific library orientation sessions and classes for undergraduate and graduate courses;
  • Conduct tours for visiting researchers, dignitaries, professional colleagues, school groups, and other individuals and groups.

How large is our program?

The Libraries information literacy program is large and robust. On average we teach about 1,000 classes, tours,  orientations, and technical workshops (e.g., EndNote Web, Geographic Information Systems, Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELNs), Refworks, etc.) to about 21,500 participants per academic year. Participants include undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, TAs, Section Leaders, visiting scholars, researchers, and high school students. About 75 library staff (e.g. library faculty, staff, graduate students, contractual employees) annually participate in our information literacy program.

These library instruction statistics reflect those reported in FY 2013:

  • 367 general education classes for 7,307 participants were coordinated and taught by User Education Services;
  • 446 subject-specific classes for 10,463 participants were taught by librarian liaisons. curators, and archivists;
  • 96 orientation sessions for 2,444 participants were taught by librarian liaisons, curators, and archivists;
  • 45 customized tours for 443 participants were conducted by librarian liaisons, curators, and archivists;
  • 32 technical workshops for 405 participants were taught by librarian liaisons.
  • Total: 992 classes, tours, workshops for 21,252 participants.

Do the Libraries have a student learning outcomes assessment plan?

Yes. The University Libraries are actively involved in building a culture of assessment through its information literacy program.  The assessment of student learning is conducted year-round in the instruction programs coordinated by Teaching & Learning Services, and by a growing number of librarian liaisons in their subject-specific classes, especially in those courses taught on a routine basis and that have multiple sections. 

What standards are used?

The Association of College and Research Libraries has recently updated the Information Literacy Standards. These standards are pivotal in helping us develop methods for measuring student learning in the classes we teach.  At the close of each academic year, the Libraries submits a report, along with those submitted by the University's colleges and schools, to the Provost's Commission on Learning Outcomes Assessment detailing our learning outcome activities.