thing 3: Environmental Scan

Jacobson & Gibson get us started thinking about how to implement the Framework at our own institution. Similarly, this “thing” focuses on the big picture planning for integrating the Framework into your institution’s information literacy instruction curriculum. Subsequent “@ your institution things” will dive deeper into the essential steps like curriculum mapping, outreach & marketing, linking to institutions goals/accreditation, & collaborating with campus partners.


Jacobson, T. E., & Gibson, C. (2015). First thoughts on implementing the framework for information literacy. Communications in Information Literacy, 9(2), 102.


Before embarking on creating or revising an information literacy program/course to respond to changes in best practices informed by the new Framework, it is important do an environmental scan of your institution. Reviewing institutional goals, identifying partners, and collecting information will better enable you to “frame” information literacy at your institution.

With that in mind, as an individual or with your instruction team:

1.   Identify stakeholders & partners. Here are some examples to guide your search:

  • Departments & Offices: Office of research & assessment, English department, Writing Center
  • Committees: Curriculum Committees, Writing Intensive Program
    Individuals: library advocates (faculty, deans, etc), department chairs
  • Forums: Teaching Learning Institute, Center for Teaching and Learning

2.   Review institutional goals & strategies. Here are some questions to ponder as you’re reviewing:

  • Where does IL fit into the strategic plan and mission?
  • What frames/knowledge practices/dispositions connect with your institution’s learning goals?
  • Does your institution have any assessment processes you could tap into?
  • What accrediting bodies oversee programs/institution? What benchmarks & data do they require?

Share what you learned from completing an environmental scan in the comments section below. Here are some optional questions to guide your response:

  • What potential stakeholders & partners did you identify? Do you already have strong relationships that you can build upon? If so, how?
  • What frames/knowledge practices/dispositions connect with your institution’s learning goals?
  • Where do you see the best starting point for engaging your community & integrating the Framework into your teaching practice?


  1. I really liked this exercise, as it made me think deeply about who and what to focus on if/when we should decide to incorporate more of a library/college partnership with regard to information literacy. Right now, we do classes as requested, with over 95% one shot instruction. We do not use standards or frames formally when we develop our objectives–I would say informally we are closer to the old ACRL standards. My hope is that someday we will start mapping to the framework as we develop and refocus our lesson plans.
    I identified several stakeholders and partners that I feel we could develop or strengthen relationships with if we wanted to incorporate the ACRL framework more thoroughly into our college curriculum.
    *VP Teaching, Learning, and Student Development
    *Dean of Academic Development and Learning Resources
    *Distance Learning
    *Departments such as English, Communications, or Health professions
    *Committees such as curriculum, assessment, and accreditation
    *Institutional Research

    Although we have some established relationships already, I would think that the most receptive to this may be the English, Communications, and/or Health Professions.

    Our college’s mission is a simple one: To improve people’s lives through learning. We also have several strategic goals and shared values which can be related to information literacy:
    *Goals (these 4 of 6 seemed the best fit):
    1. Foster a learning centered environment.
    2. Promote student goal completion.
    5. Strengthen educational and workforce partnerships to created a more responsive and sustainable community.
    6. Enhance Elgin Community College as an employer of choice.

    I think the Frames work better with the Shared values we hold, particularly:
    1. Ethical practices: mapped to Information has Value
    2. Freedom of inquiry: mapped to Searching as Strategic Exploration, Research as Inquiry, and Scholarship as Conversation
    3.Excellence: I think working to develop deeper and more meaningful ways for students to gain true information literacy fosters this particular value with all the frames. Aligning the frames with our curriculum and providing exercises (Jacobson & Gibson, 2015, p. 104) that instructors can use to enhance their current assignments will help to move students along and help us to assess the impact in a better way.

    I really liked the suggestion of assessing at some point a while AFTER the session (Jacobson & Gibson, 2015, p. 108) rather than immediately. I think you may be able to see a more entrenched learning here (transformative, irreversible, etc.) than in the immediate aftermath of the class.

    If I were to be in a position to be able to instigate a project of incorporating information literacy more into our curriculum, I would do a more thorough scan and identify individuals to meet with to propose a study. With that, I would provide some concrete examples of what these information literacy exercises, modules, or assessments MAY look like. I think the best means of approaching this is to show that there has to be as little work for the instructor as they would like (with the librarian taking on the IL role) and that the librarian show the impact and meaning of the extra exercises for the students and their success.


  2. My institution is currently in the midst of consolidating with another institution, so it will be very interesting to see how the information literacy environment changes over the next several years. Currently, my institution incorporates information literacy in its Freshman Year Seminar program, and there is quite a bit in Freshmen Composition. We will have to wait and see what changes since the institution with which we are consolidating takes a different approach. An environmental scan (or several) could be useful as we see how things are changing and begin working with the various departments in the new, consolidated university that has new goals.

    My Reference & Instruction colleagues in the library have regular conversations about incorporating elements of the Framework throughout the courses we work with, however the reality is that one-shots are the predominant delivery method, and I don’t see that changing very soon. For me, it is about doing what we can with the interaction we have, and cultivating faculty relationships with those who already “get it.” They tend to be our champions and help spread our efforts.


  3. We don’t have faculty status, we don’t sit on any curriculum committees, and only our director gets to go to the Faculty Senate meetings. Still we have made some inroads into adapting the basic freshman English composition class by working with individual faculty members. .


    • We are faculty status (yay!) but as adjuncts, we are not included in most of the library’s planning or any discussions of instruction and objectives (although the adjuncts do the bulk of the instruction sessions.) We do have academic freedom with our lesson plans, but with 8 adjuncts, it is hard to have a level of consistency. So far I haven’t seen much discussion of incorporating the framework. We are also not encouraged (permitted?) to contact individual instructors on this type of idea. Only on the instruction/assignment. It is kind of weird…


  4. Fortunately, the library has built strong relationships with a wide range of college organizations and departments, including IT and Instructional Technology Development Program. I mention these primarily because without them the library would not be at the table for important conversations about how to best support and integrate instruction of all kinds. We are lucky to have a few faculty librarians who serve on the faculty senate and other important committees as well. We are well placed to become part of the larger conversation about creating more student engagement through High Impact Practices. There are active discussions centered around this idea on our campus with some of the faculty actively supporting it. Here is a link for those who are interested: If anyone has more information that adds to this I am very interested.

    At the moment, I can see Information Creation as Process and Scholarship as a Conversation as our immediate starting place. My MPOW is entering a new Strategic Plan phase that is emphasizing student engagement with independent and faculty sponsored research both at the institution, in the larger community, and internationally. There are several expansions going on both in the physical structures and in the curriculum, Humanities, Business, and the Sciences, that I believe we can capitalize on.

    Part of the Core Curriculum is a required two-year course called Development of Western Civilization. We are actively working with interested faculty on how to get students into the library and engaging with active research early in their college career. With this required course, we could at the very least see every student and introduce them to the library in their first semester. Even if only for a brief presentation in one class. What we want to ensure is that the projects and research are immediately relevant and useful to students and that they understand that what they learn in their first year of college is applicable to not just one class or the classroom, but also to their lives outsides and beyond college. I am hopeful that the Framework will help us do a better job at this.

    This overly long post is just the beginning. I will be spending the summer doing a larger environmental scan to discover what different departments use for Student Learning Outcomes, how they assess them, and to see if there are places where information literacy, or even digital literacy is mentioned. We may not be reaching everyone who could benefit from the resources we can provide.


  5. I would start with a discussion involving those faculty members who consistently bring their classes to the Library for instruction. There are a few faculty who introduce their students to Library faculty using the most wonderful and inspiring words. I actually asked one instructor if I could tape his introduction, because he was so enthusiastic about librarians and the library.

    By discussing the Framework with these faculty members, and helping them incorporate these concepts into their assignments, I believe that others will start to see and hear how well these sessions are, and based on the success of the students attending, will seek out Library faculty so that more collaborative work can be accomplished.


  6. I just started this position last month, so I’m still getting used to the university and I don’t really know my departments well yet. I liked how this article laid out incorporating a frame into a one shot session.

    I read a great article last week that uses a frame as a jumping off point for working with visual art students:

    Garcia, L., & Peterson, A. Who invited the librarian? studio critiques as a site of information literacy education. Art Libraries Journal, 42(2), 73-79. doi:

    I could see attempting to also do this once I secure a strong relationship with that department. I think that’s the biggest hurdle for all of us: building that relationship and trust with the faculty member.


  7. In Leiden University departments have their own strategies on education. That’s why we work with faculty liaisons to know what is going on the different departments. Our faculty liaisons talk with all the program managers about the learning goals and the way information literacy fits in those goals. It depents on the classes and their program managers what is possible.


    • Hello,
      It looks like your institution is “about” the same size as the one I work at. Do you find that different departments or faculty frame their learning objectives differently? I am finding that each department describes things differently, and need to determine if in the end they are talking and teaching to similar ends. I would love any insights or experiences you have had.


      • Anneke,

        I just double checked the number of students you serve. My mistake. My institution is tiny compared to yours, but I would still love you here your thoughts.

        Heather W.


  8. Because our librarians don’t have faculty status, we are very much dependent on whatever inroads we can make through our relationships with the instructors. Very often our most fruitful opportunities for implementing change come from working with in-coming faculty who are open to new ideas. I’ve come to realize that the best thing I can provide for both meeting the needs of assignment-driven one-shot library sessions and my own Information Literacy goals is to have a library instruction policy.


  9. We are fortunate at my institution that librarians serve on the Strategic Planning Committee, chaired (and still serve on) the Curriculum Review Committee, participated in our Critical Academic Literacy initiative, and participate in program and institutional accreditation (SACS) review activities. The ONE group with which I wish we had a voice is the General Education Assessment Committee. This group identifies institutional learning outcomes for the gen ed courses, but librarians have not had success gaining ground with this group. I think a coffee date with the chair of this committee is in order this fall!

    While the frames connecting the institutional learning goals for general education classes overlap, I propose the following as a baseline for further exploration and discussion with my colleagues.

    o Scholarship as Conversation – Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively.
    o Authority is Constructed and Contextual – Students will demonstrate the ability to analyze communication critically.
    o Information Creation as a Process – Students will confirm the ability to think critically through demonstrating interpretive ability and cultural literacy.
    o Scholarship as Conversation – Students will acquire competence in reflecting critically upon the human condition.
    o Research as Inquiry – Students will determine appropriate mathematical and computational models and methods in problem solving, and demonstrate an understanding of mathematical concepts.
    o Research as Inquiry – Students will apply appropriate mathematical and computational models and methods in problem solving.
    o Searching as Strategic Exploration – Students will demonstrate the ability to critically examine and evaluate scientific observation, hypothesis, or model construction, and to use the scientific method to explain the natural world.
    o Authority is Constructed and Contextual – Students will successfully recognize and comprehend fundamental concepts, principles, and processes about the natural world.
    o Information Creation as a Process – Students will demonstrate the ability to examine behavioral, social, and cultural issues from a variety of points of view.
    o Authority is Constructed and Contextual – Students will demonstrate an understanding of basic social and behavioral science concepts and principles used in the analysis of behavioral, social, and cultural issues, past and present, local and global.

    You’ll notice that Information Has Value is not represented here, but it connects to the institution’s overall academic integrity policy which applies to all courses, not just gen ed.

    Two new librarians will be joining my library within a couple of weeks. My first objective is to introduce them to the frames and how we use them to inspire our teaching. This will be their first teaching experience, so I do not believe they will need to unlearn the standards. As the instruction program lead, I must demonstrate a level of comfort to my colleagues regarding the frames. If we as librarians don’t embrace the frames, it will be difficult to sell them in the classroom. Faculty with whom I work have responded positively to the hands-on critical thinking activities (many of them team based) used to introduce what can be a messy process – research. Thanks to Assessment in Action’s findings, it is easy to show the correlation between student engagement with library resources (including librarians) and their success – read retention and graduation. These findings show administration how relevant the library is to institutional goals. Here is a link to the April 2017 report, Academic Library Impact on Student Learning and Success: Findings from Assessment in Action Team Projects.


    • Connie, as someone who has successfully found opportunities for the library to participate in key committees, what advice would you offer to folks trying to make those connections?


  10. Institution wide, our library has a few opportunities for building information literacy into the curriculum from the ground up. Our instruction librarians have conversations with University College, the Writing Center, English, our campus Curriculum Committee, our Liberal Education program, and our University Assessment Committee to insert or synthesize information literacy into curriculum maps and strategic planning. Not all of the librarians are in agreement for how information literacy should manifest itself in curriculum, however, and not all faculty embrace the language of information literacy or know how to incorporate it into their curriculum, so they still rely heavily on one-shot library instruction, which does not really solve the problem. Our instruction librarians have reviewed the VALUE rubrics that the Higher Education Commission wants the university faculty to use to assess their courses, and have discovered that there are elements of information literacy in most of those rubrics. Some of the librarians have conversations with faculty about those elements and how to make them happen in their courses. We need more conversations where we can use the language and thresholds of the faculty disciplines, rather than our own library discipline, to get our point across, though.

    Part of the challenge is that our Liberal Education Program’s student learning goal areas are mandated by the state. A few years ago librarians attempted to negotiate for an 11th goal area for Information Literacy, but that was shot down by the state. So there is a great need to infuse and assess information literacy frameworks at the lower division and upper division levels. These conversations take time to initiate and not all faculty wish to participate in them, especially if they are tenured and have done the same type of teaching for over 20 years. I would be interested to hear from those people participating in this 23 things program how other libraries are collaborating with college/school faculty to synthesize information literacy into the curricula of other disciplines.


    • In general, I’ve found it helpful to start conversations with faculty about information literacy by focusing the discussion on what students struggle with when completing research assignments in their courses, or what really frustrates them about the student work they see. While there are certainly some faculty members who aren’t open to trying new things, these kinds of questions can open up discussion about opportunities to collaborate on research assignment design, or courses where a new approach to information literacy instruction might be helpful. These conversations can be helpful with faculty you already have a relationship with, or in more formal conversations at departmental meetings or programs. What have other folks found helpful?


  11. Our institution has been in the midst of some sweeping organizational changes in the last academic year. This has given us – the library as a college-wide department – some opportunities to “come in on the ground floor” as new departments and initiatives are being established. Librarians have been invited to work with course developers (faculty members) across a variety of disciplines and programs. One of the departments that reached out to us was the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning. At their request, I created and deliver a course on IL in course design and I use the Framework (and the Standards) to identify opportunities for content-based activities that engage IL skills and builds competency. The Framework – and, really, talking about the Framework and the threshold concepts was really helpful for the faculty who participated (even librarian faculty). It helped them understand how the Standards, as Jacobson & Gibson write, are deceptively finite: “Even [one] performance indicator is too much to tackle in a single class period.” Mastery – or even tenuous competencies – “are to be mastered over time.” I think, in that way, it provided another avenue for that conversation we all want to have about IL instruction: it is more than point-and-click vendor and catalog demonstrations. Development is ongoing and we are reassessing this program for the upcoming year; but, overall, it was an opportunity I’m glad we had and that I believe can be successful.

    I think, however, that the best starting point will *always* be at the class level. Each individual in an academic department will have different experiences with libraries and different values and ideas about librarians as instructors or faculty. As much as the Framework is useful in the course I described above, it’s not really the best entry-point for a discussion with faculty. It’s still a point of need relationship in many ways. They need us for XYZ and we fill that need as best we can. Our college has adopted a standard course model (developed by and providing flexibility for discipline faculty) for some courses. One of our librarians considered appealing to those course developers as they were being designed. Now that they are we have another opportunity to appeal to the faculty whose content we *know* and whose points-of-needs we can safely guess from the course outline.



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