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On metaliteracy and ACRL’s coming standards update

They’re coming and they (will/should) affect us.
I hope they affect our seniors, especially those used to using social media thoughtfully, as they meet new librarians and instructors in their college years.
The focus of the new ACRL (Association of College & Research Libraries Information Literacy Competency Standards will be metaliteracy, a reframing of the notion of the information literacy for emerging social media environments.
First developed between 1999 and 2000, ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, have according to Steven Bell,  become
the de facto definition of information literacy. Though they have served the academic library profession well over the past thirteen years, the current standards are showing their age. It is time for our association to engage in a process to rethink and reimagine them for the next generation of academic librarians, college students and the faculty.
Since 2011, an ACRL Task Force has been working on an expanded set of literacies that emphasize open learning, participation, collaboration and creation in social media learning environments.
The Prospectus for Revision highlighted emerging models for exploration:
  • metaliteracy, with its emphasis on metacognition and today’s participatory information environment, with students as information producers
  • transliteracy, which incorporates literacies across a range of platforms, including visual and other non-textual types
  • new, stream-lined conceptions, such as the Seven Pillars of Information Literacy
A new issue of Communications in Information Literacy presents 15 articles that reflect on the Standards, through a range of viewpoints and focused interests.  Among the articles listed in the Table of Contents are Carol Kuhlthau’s Rethinking the 2000 ACRL Standards: Some Things to Consider and Lesley Farmer’s How AASL Learning Standards Inform ACRL Information Literacy Standards
The lead article, Proposing a Metaliteracy Model to Redefine Information Literacy, by Trudi E. Jacobson (University at Albany) and Thomas P. Mackey (SUNY Empire State College) describes the journey and the rationale for revisioning.
It concludes:
Metaliteracy requires us to think beyond discrete skills development in one-shot library sessions and embed metacognitive reflection in dynamic and collaborative learning activities. Metaliterate learners continuously reflect on their own thinking to expand their knowledge and adapt to evolving technologies. The new standards then must consider the ways that learners are encouraged to create and share original and repurposed expressions as critical consumers and producers of information. Metaliteracy moves knowledge acquisition beyond search and retrieval to include the production, distribution, and communication of information in open and online environments. This work must take place across the curriculum, requiring research librarians to build stronger collaborations among faculty and librarian colleagues and to influence learning objectives in a variety of studies and disciplines.

After attending a conference session on metaliteracy, Paige Jaeger discussed the concept in a recent Library Door post, Metaliteracy, Megaliteracy and Information Literacy,

Paige writes:

Whether we are working in the K-12 environment or higher education, we are all in the same boat.  The learners of the 21st Century are not those of the 1960s and our pedagogy must include adaptations. 

Paige created her own infographic summarizing her conversations and explaining the literacies paradigm shift.

For more information:

Jacobson and Mackey’s recent SlideShare presentation offers background on Metaliteracy as a framework:

The portal offers metaliteracy learning objectives based on four key domains (behavioral, affective, cognitive, and metacognitive)

The Metaliteracy MOOC  features news and activities, facilitated by experts from Empire State College.

The MOOC features these two models created by Roger Lipera:

Metaliteracy Model (by Roger Lipera)

Metaliterate Learner by Roger Lipera

Society of College, National, and University Libraries. (2011). SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy Core Model for Higher Education. Retrieved from

Mackey, T. P., & Jacobson, T. (2011). Reframing information literacy as a metaliteracy. College & Research Libraries, 72(1), 62-78. Retrieved from

Look for more news on metaliteracy and the ACRL Standards at ALA Midwinter.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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