Fostering Information Literacy

A Call for Collaboration Between Academic Librarians and MSW Instructors




information literacy instruction, social work education, academic librarians, social justice, relationships with faculty, social work librarians, social work curricula


Genuine collaboration between academic librarians and social work faculty in which information literacy is embedded in social work education is lacking. Drawing from the results of the authors’ 2016 quantitative study surveying academic social work librarians across the United States, this qualitative follow-up uses data from 27 semi-structured interviews concerning the prevalence and nature of information literacy instruction (ILI) in social work education, how ILI is introduced and sustained in social work curricula, and the alignment between ILI efforts with institutional goals, guidelines from accreditation authorities, and professional social work practice standards. The literature review engages the reader in a robust definition of “information literacy” as applied to social work practice and its connection to social justice and anti-oppressive pedagogy. The findings and subsequent discussion center on current systemic obstacles in ensuring social work graduates enter the profession with sufficient information literacy (IL) skills for an ethical, research-informed, data-driven practice and conclude with recommendations for the evolution of integrated ILI at a local level within social work curricula. Collaborative and sustainable partnerships among academic librarians and social work faculty are essential for educating information literate social work practitioners of tomorrow.


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