College & Research Libraries News

CONFERENCE CIRCUIT: Integrating information literacy into the curriculum: How is your library measuring up?

by Cerise Oberman, Bonnie Gratch Lindauer, and Betsy Wilson

Integrating Information Literacy into the Curriculum,” was the subject of a recent panel presentation at the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) on March 24, 1998, in Atlanta, Georgia. This panel presentation, moderated by Althea Jenkins, ACRE executive director, was geared toward educational administrators, including presidents, provosts, and academic vice-presidents. As such, a unique instrument for this panel presentation was developed by Cerise Oberman (Plattsburgh State University of New York) and Betsy Wilson (University of Washington) to assist the audience in evaluating their own institutional information literacy readiness: the Information Literacy IQ test.1

Unlike traditional IQ tests that measure an intellectual quotient, this IQ test measures an institutional quotient. Participants were asked to complete the IQ test by simply answering all the statements either true or false, totaling the number of “true” statements, and then matching that total to the five distinct stages identified: “First Steps,” “On Your Way,” “Experimenting,” “Full Speed Ahead,” and “Model Program.” This IQ provided an instantaneous snapshot of where an institution may find itself on a continuum of information literacy program readiness.

The first two stages, “First Steps” and “On Your Way,” are critical foundational stages in preparing an institution to understand and embrace information literacy as a critical component of higher education. The “Experimenting” and “Full Speed Ahead” stages are the realization of the earlier conceptual stages. And the last stage, the “Model Program” stage, is the penultimate accomplishment. Under each of the five stages a series of strategies are suggested to assist institutions toward moving to the next stage.

The panel presentation that followed was constructed to expand upon some of the strategies that were outlined in the Information Literacy IQ test by answering the three most common and critical questions that are asked by all institutional planners when designing or redesigning information literacy programs:

“What are essential information literacy competencies and how are they being used by different educational associations (i.e., accrediting agencies, states, or university systems)?” Bonnie Gratch Lindauer, of the City College of San Francisco, addressed this question by providing an overview of information literacy competencies and initiatives by professional organizations, state university systems, and individual institutions. This information was particularly relevant to those institutions at the “First Steps,” “On Your Way,” or “Experimenting” stages.

“What critical building blocks must be in place to ensure a successful information literacy program?” While the IQ test identifies some of these, Wilson presented the critical structural components for implementing and maintaining an effective information literacy program. Wilson also identified some exemplary or best practices in information literacy programs from across the country (see sidebar). Institutions that were “On Your Way,” “Experimenting,” or “Full Speed Ahead,” were particularly interested in this overview.

“Where can my institution seek assistance in the development and delivery of information literacy programs?” Oberman addressed this question by sharing the work and plans for the National Information Literacy Institute (NILI) that are currently underway.2 The mission, goals, and four initial programmatic initiatives, including an immersion program, best practices and assessment seminar, community partnership program, and the NILI Web site were shared. The NILI initiative is relevant to all the IQ stages from “First Steps” through “Model Program.”

The program was well received by the audience and the Information Literacy IQ test was successful in giving individuals an opportunity to assess their own institutional progress on information literacy.


  1. The Information Literacy IQ test will be available on the NILI Web page at
  2. Betsy Wilson presented this portion of the program due to a blizzard in the northeast that prevented Cerise Oberman from attending.
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