Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Information Literacy: Checklist of Information Competencies

List of competencies


This Checklist is adapted for our college from work by a team of California State University and California community college librarians.  The Checklist is intended to be a succinct list of essential competencies.

Pre-college Students  Basic Information Resources and Search Strategies.

Ability to:

  • use signage, maps, and user guides to locate library collections and services
  • use the library’s classification system to browse by subject and to locate an item by call number
  • develop a focused topic and strategies for obtaining needed information
  • gather background information in books and encyclopedic works
  • search by author, title, and keyword in library online catalog and locate relevant items identify relevant  keywords and database terms for searching a topic
  • conduct a search in an interdisciplinary database (e.g., eLibrary) using the search options
  • identify relevant subject databases, e.g., CultureGrams and execute a basic search
  • using database features to mark/save/print/email citations and link to fulltext
  • interpret catalog and database search results
  • evaluate information gathered by such criteria as: relevance, authority, currency, peer review process
  • revise topic and/or strategy if search results are unsatisfactory 
  • summarize, organize, and synthesize information found
  • cite sources properly according to appropriate style guide
  • observe copyright guidelines; legally obtain, store, and use text and data
  • recognize the need for information for any purpose (academic, work, personal) 

College Students Disciplinary Resources and Critical Evaluation

Ability to:

  • link from subject headings to find additional resources 
  • match search tool to information need:  academic library databases, search enginesidentify and determine local availability of cited items and use interlibrary loan services as needed 
  • identify and use specialized reference sources in the major field, e.g., subject dictionaries
  • use special features of databases, e.g., finding academic journal articles within ProQuest or Academic Search Premier
  • use appropriate subject-based style manuals and/or citation style formatting software
  • identify and use unique resources in the major subject, e.g., case studies (business) and datasets (geography)
  • use appropriate criteria to evaluate and select resources suitable for upper-division work, such as relevance, scope, authority, objectivity, and currency
  • understand and differentiate between primary vs. secondary, popular vs. scholarly resource
  • perform cited reference searches in order to follow a research topic forward and backward in time
  • conduct a comprehensive literature review for papers/projects, including books, journal articles, dissertations, technical reports, non-print media, etc.
  • use research collections beyond the local library when needed
  • apply ethical and legal principles to the use of information in all formats and context
  • apply acquired information and research skills in new situations and contexts