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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