I’ve been involved with my college’s student success and equity efforts over the past few years. Our focus on these isn’t new, but a couple of years ago we joined the Achieving the Dream (ATD) network and committed resources more intentionally to student success and student equity initiatives. Our involvement with ATD (specifically looking at success and completion data disaggregated by ethnicity, age, gender, etc.) primed us for completing our first Student Equity Plan—required via the Board of Governor’s Student Equity Policy.
I’m grateful that our administrators thought to include me in this work, as I’ve been able to advocate for the Learning Resource Center in the planning documents and to explore the role of the library in equity efforts. The most concrete way that our students will benefit from the library’s inclusion in the Equity Plan is through expanded collections and resources. Additional funding has been secured for the purchase of textbooks for our ever-popular RESERVE collection, which improves access for students, many of whom are from lower income brackets. Other collections will be expanded as well, including materials for Basic Skills, ESL, college success, professional development titles, and materials that reflect the diverse backgrounds of our students.
So, this issue of equity has been shaping my work these days. It was no surprise, then, that when I read through the new ACRL Framework, I noticed how central the concept of equity is to Information Literacy. Frame 1 (Authority is Constructed and Contextual) expands what it means to evaluate information sources. Learners are encouraged to develop dispositions that recognize and value the plurality of voices in the information landscape. Some examples of these dispositions:
- Question traditional notions of granting authority and recognize the value of diverse ideas and worldviews;
- Develop and maintain an open mind when encountering varied and sometimes conflicting perspectives.
Frame 3 (Information has Value) touches on a concept I learned about reading Char Booth’s informative blog—that of Information Privilege. Two key dispositions listed under this frame are:
- Recognize issues of access or lack of access to information sources;
- Understand how and why some individuals or groups of individuals may be underrepresented or systematically marginalized within the systems that produce and disseminate information.
Frame 5 (Scholarship is a Conversation) also has the thread of equity running through it. One of the knowledge practices in this frame states that information literate learners are able to:
- Recognize that systems privilege authorities and that not having a fluency in the language and process of a discipline disempowers their ability to participate and engage.
Our library department will be revising our student learning and program learning outcomes this year to align our instruction with the Framework. We want to encourage students to view themselves as producers as well as consumers of information and to reflect on their role in the construction of authority. We want them to develop open minds when locating and using information sources.
Is adapting our library instruction to the new framework enough to adequately tackle this issue of equity in a meaningful way for our students? How are other librarians involving their campus communities in adapting the framework? What are other librarians doing to address equity planning at their institutions?