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Reference interactions significantly address the development of the information seeking skills of readers by addressing Standard 2 of the national standards outlined in the Association of College and Research Libraries' Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Standard 2 is reproduced here in its entirety.


The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.

Performance Indicators:

  1. The information literate student selects the most appropriate investigative methods or information retrieval systems for accessing the needed information.

    Outcomes Include:

    1. Identifies appropriate investigative methods (e.g., laboratory experiment, simulation, fieldwork)
    2. Investigates benefits and applicability of various investigative methods
    3. Investigates the scope, content, and organization of information retrieval systems
    4. Selects efficient and effective approaches for accessing the information needed from the investigative method or information retrieval system
  2. The information literate student constructs and implements effectively-designed search strategies.

    Outcomes Include:

    1. Develops a research plan appropriate to the investigative method
    2. Identifies keywords, synonyms and related terms for the information needed
    3. Selects controlled vocabulary specific to the discipline or information retrieval source
    4. Constructs a search strategy using appropriate commands for the information retrieval system selected (e.g., Boolean operators, truncation, and proximity for search engines; internal organizers such as indexes for books)
    5. Implements the search strategy in various information retrieval systems using different user interfaces and search engines, with different command languages, protocols, and search parameters
    6. Implements the search using investigative protocols appropriate to the discipline
  3. The information literate student retrieves information online or in person using a variety of methods.

    Outcomes Include:

    1. Uses various search systems to retrieve information in a variety of formats
    2. Uses various classification schemes and other systems (e.g., call number systems or indexes) to locate information resources within the library or to identify specific sites for physical exploration
    3. Uses specialized online or in person services available at the institution to retrieve information needed (e.g., interlibrary loan/document delivery, professional associations, institutional research offices, community resources, experts and practitioners)
    4. Uses surveys, letters, interviews, and other forms of inquiry to retrieve primary information
  4. The information literate student refines the search strategy if necessary.

    Outcomes Include:

    1. Assesses the quantity, quality, and relevance of the search results to determine whether alternative information retrieval systems or investigative methods should be utilized
    2. Identifies gaps in the information retrieved and determines if the search strategy should be revised
    3. Repeats the search using the revised strategy as necessary

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This file last modified 12/17/01
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