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LIB 120: Introduction to Information Literacy
University of Rhode Island


We are living in the midst of the Information Age. Introduction to Information Literacy is an invitation to the study of this world of information; to gain an understanding of how information is organized; know how to gather information; analyze and evaluate its' worth; and use it effectively in research.

What is Information Literacy?

Information literacy is the ability to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. Information Literacy is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It forms the basis for lifelong learning." (American Library Association. Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report. Chicago: American Library Association, 1989.)

Course Goals and Objectives

Information is a commodity readily available in overwhelming abundance. However, information is only useful if the researcher has the knowledge and skills necessary to manipulate it. While exploring the information world students will learn to use effective methods and techniques of information gathering, evaluation and presentation. The knowledge gained in the course will prepare students to conduct university level research and beyond that, develop skills necessary for life-long learning.

Student Objectives

1. Understand the organization of information systems
2. Recognize and articulate a research problem
3. Develop appropriate and effective search strategies
4. Select and use information retrieval tools
5. Locate and retrieve information sources
6. Analyze and critically evaluate information
7. Organize and synthesize information
8. Use and apply information effectively

Other Required Materials

Instructors may include supplemental readings, student ID, e-mail account, three-ring binder, enthusiastic attitude, etc. -- anything that the instructor believes is necessary.


Grades for the course will be A-F. Your grade will be based on the following criteria:

LIB 120 sections may include some or all of the following criteria.  Certain criterion are required to meet URI General Education Standards and to maintain the integrity of the course. See your course syllabus for more specific information.

 Writing exercises and assignments
 In-class exercises
 Homework assignments
 Solo and Small Group Presentations
 Exams or Quizzes
 Semester Project - "The Paper Trail"
 Final exam
 Attendance & participation

The following number of points out of a total of 100 will determine the corresponding letter grade:

A = 93-100 C = 73-76
A- = 90-92 C- = 70-72
B+ = 87-89 D+ = 67-69
B = 83-86 D = 60-66
B- = 80-82 F = Below 60
C+ = 77-79  

Below are the descriptions for required course components.

Writing exercises and assignments

These criteria address the URI General Education requirement of "Writing Effectively."

Writing exercises and assignments of varying lengths are an integral part of this course.  These assignments allow for revision based on feedback from the instructor and/or peers.

Examples of some of these assignments are as follows:

Annotated bibliographies - Annotated bibliographies are researched, written and revised over the course of the semester with the final project due at the last class.

Writing-to-learn / Minute Writing exercises - These exercises are short and designed to help students review and retain material from the last class, to provide practice in applying ideas, to promote understanding of concepts, and to encourage active reading of assigned texts.

Reading Responses - These are written responses to selected readings that reflect the student's own thoughts about the readings, and relate the readings to the information environment.

Solo and Small Group Presentations

This criterion address the URI General Education requirement of "Speaking Effectively."

Examples of solo and small group presentations include:

Search Engine Extravaganza - A small group exploration and presentation of a variety of Internet search tools.

Information Issues - Small groups will report on current issues relating to information access and use.

Team Database Presentation - Working in and out of class, teams will investigate and learn to use the database. Each team will prepare an in-class presentation of the database. The presentation must include information about the database's content, coverage, audience, search mechanisms, and retrieval options.

Semester Project- "The Paper Trail"

This criterion address the URI General Education requirements of "Writing Effectively," "Using Qualitative Data," and "Using Information Technology."

The Paper Trail is an annotated portfolio, or "map", of the research process used for a research paper or project. The Paper Trail will demonstrate more than anything else mastery of the material covered in the course. The Paper Trail project should allow the instructor to follow a student's research path for a pre-selected research question. It is a map to trace all of the research - the processes that worked and those that didn't work. It is highly recommended that students use a topic from a course they are currently taking. The topic idea must be submitted to the instructor for approval.

Final Exam

A final exam, administered during the time scheduled by the Registrar, is required by the University.

Students in this class are encouraged to visit. URI's Writing Center - located on the 4th floor of Roosevelt Hall - at anytime during semester. Appointments are encouraged (call them at 4-4690), but you may also drop in and see if a tutor is available. For more information go the the URI Writing Center's website at

Any student with a documented disability is welcome to contact me early in the semester so that we may work out reasonable accommodations to support your success in this course. One should also contact Disability Services for Students, Office of Student Life, 330 Memorial Union, 874-2098.

Class outline

In this section, topics and concepts to be covered in LIB 120 are outlined.

Detailed class outlines would include class meeting dates, class meeting locations, topics to be covered, readings for class, assignments due, etc.

- What is Information?
- Information Explosion / Information Overload
- Organization and Characteristics of Information

The Research Process
- Developing a topic (concept mapping and other techniques, formulating an effective research question, using general and subject encyclopedias)
- Developing a search strategy (developing a research plan, identifying related academic disciplines)

Quality of Information
- Judging the Quality of Information
- Interpretation and Evaluation Criteria

Monographic Information
- HELIN Library Catalog (Basic & Advanced)
- Library of Congress Classification
- Library of Congress Subject Headings and Subject Searching
- Other Library Classification Systems
- Subject vs. Keyword Searching
- Bibliographic Records
- Annotated Bibliographies

Introduction to Periodical Information
- Information Cycle / Publication Cycle
- Taxonomy of Periodicals (Popular, Trade, Scholarly)
- Finding Periodicals in HELIN Library Catalog

Finding periodical information
- Indexes & Indexing
- Print Indexes / Electronic Databases
- Access Points
- Boolean Logic
- Evaluating the Results and Refocusing the Search
- Team Database Discovery Project

The Internet
- Brief History of the Internet
- Characteristics of Information on the Internet
- Search Engines and Directories
- Evaluating Internet Information

Information Packaging
- Citations and Citation Formats

Statistics and Experts
- Finding Statistical Information
- Evaluating Statistical Information
- Using Experts in Research

Issues of the Information Age
- Agricultural, Industrial, and Information Ages
- Intellectual Property / Commodification of Information
- Information Policy and Privacy
- Access to Information
- Preservation of the Human Record

This page was last updated on August 20, 2012.  For any questions about this page, please contact Mary MacDonald, Information Literacy Librarian.