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Information Literacy @ ASU: Variations of Information Literacy

About Frameworks

There are various functional frameworks for literacy intended to provide clear and developmental structures. Understanding these frameworks enable:

  • instructors
  • teachers
  • teacher-librarians
  • information literacy instructors
  • trainers

. . . to support learners as they progress through their studies and throughout their lives.

None of these frameworks are prescriptive or restrictive but allow for variation in information literacy emphasis across courses and subjects within the curriculum.

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Variations of Information Literacy

Information Literacy

A term first used in the 1980’s now evolved into a set of standards which include discerning the scope of information needed, the capability to find the information effectively, the synthesis of new information with existing knowledge, and understanding the ethical and legal information environment  (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2000).

Media Literacy

Defined as a “framework to access, analyze, evaluate and create messages in a variety of forms – from print to video to the Internet (Thoman and Jolls, 2005).”

 Digital Literacy

Digital literacy is now well beyond the ability to understand numerical data to include “the ability to read and interpret media (text, sound, images), and reproduce data and images through digital manipulation, and to evaluate and apply new knowledge gained from digital environments (Jones-Kavalier and Flannigan, 2006)”.

Visual Literacy

Defined as a set of competencies to “communicate information in a variety of forms and appreciate the masterworks of visual communication . . . the imaginative ability to create, amend, and reproduce images, digital or not, in a mutable way (Jones-Kavalier and Flannigan, 2006)”.


A  literacy in the age of mass media “means being able to sort fact from fiction, to detect extremism from reasonable debate, and to identify gender bias, commercialism, imitation, parody, and other aspects of written language that are problematic in online communication (Gurak, 2003).

Information Fluency

Under this rubric is a scope of competency, proficiency, and “ability to use information and communication resources effectively, be adept at critical, analytical and logical thinking, and express . . . well in both oral and written forms” (Macalester College, 2010)


Newest term to encompass literacy which provides a “higher order thinking required to engage with multiple document types through various media formats in collaborative environments” (Mackey and Jacobson, 2011).


Transliteracy is terminology gaining currency and momentum in the library world.  It is not new.  It is a term encompassing and transcending many entrenched and contemporary concepts.

The term offers a broader analysis of reading, writing and interacting across a range of:

  • platforms
  • tools
  • media
  • cultures

Transliteracy does not replace other literacy, but rather incorporates:

  • media literacy
  • digital literacy
  • mobile literacy
  • social literacy
  • visual literacy
  • information literacy

The term transliteracy pertains to the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from text, signing and orality through handwriting, print, television, streaming video, computer programs and software, mash-ups, radio and film, to digital and mobile social networks. Transliteracy is a cognitive function, the ability to construct mental models of how information is presented and behaves.


Gural, Laura J., Cyberliteracy: Navigating the Internet with Awareness.  Boston, MA: Yale University Press, 2003. Print.

"Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education." Association of Cllege and Research Libraries. American Library Association. n.d.  Web. 22 Mar. 2011.

Jones-Kavalier, Barbara R., and Suzanne L. Finnigan. Educause Quarterly. 29.2  (2006). Web. 22 Mar 2011.

Mackey, Thomas P., and Trudy E. Jacobson. “Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy”.  College & Research Libraries 72.1 (2011): 62-78. Print.

Thoman, Elizabeth, and Tessa Jolls.  “Literacy for the 21st Century: An Overview & Orientation Guide to Media Literacy Education”. (2006). PDF file.

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