Information Literacy Frameworks & Social Justice

Since the publication of ACRL’s Information Literacy Framework for Higher Education, I have been advocating along with many others for an increased focus on social justice.  In a Tame the Web blog post around the time of the Framework’s adoption, Troy Swanson indicated that he would also like to see the discussion move forward, and asked what a frame for information literacy and social justice might look like.  Similarly, in the prologue to the Framework, ACRL notes that the Framework is “is based on a cluster of interconnected core concepts, with flexible options for implementation, rather than on a set of standards, learning outcomes, or any prescriptive enumeration of skills … each library and its partners on campus will need to deploy these frames to best fit their own situation, including designing learning outcomes. For the same reason, these lists should not be considered exhaustive.” This statement suggests an opportunity to adapt and add to the Framework.

To that end, I have developed a draft frame for Information Social Justice.  I want to emphasize that this frame is only a draft, and is meant to be a conversation starter.  I would love to hear feedback and suggestions for how it could be revised, adapted, or improved by email. If you find any part of it worthwhile, please feel free to use it.

Information Social Justice

Information is created within existing power structures, and those power structures can impact the production and dissemination of information as well as distort, suppress, or misrepresent information. To understand and use information most effectively, users must be able to examine and interrogate the power structures that impact that information, and analyze the ways that information can be used to both to inform and misinform.

Knowledge Practices:

Learners who are developing their information literate ability:
◦ Analyze how each stage of the production, dissemination, organization, location, evaluation, and use
of information can be impacted by power structures
◦ Identify and interrogate those power structures
◦ Analyze critically sources of information to go beyond basic checklist criteria of author credentials,
peer review, etc. to body of research, methodologies, funding sources, conflict of interest, personal
bias etc.
◦ Identify how the commodification of information impacts access and availability
◦ Recognize when information is missing, incomplete, or inaccessible and recognize the absence of
information as an indicator of possible power dynamics and bias
◦ Analyze how information– both in its absence and its presence, in how it is created, arranged,
accessed, etc.– informs opinions and beliefs about the people, ideas, or situations it represents or
◦ Examine the ways that information can be used to persuade, promote, misinform, or coerce


Learners who are developing their information literate ability:
◦ Engage in informed skepticism when evaluating information and its sources
◦ Question traditional sources of knowledge and publishing venues
◦ Reflect critically on their own information behaviors and how they might reflect and perpetuate the
status quo
◦ Question traditional constructions of authority
◦ Value information and sources from different perspectives
◦ Recognizes the impact of the filter bubble/echo chamber and actively seeks out diverse sources of
◦ Is empowered to work for change in information structures