Teaching Information Literacy Threshold Concepts: Lesson Plans for Librarians. Edited by Patricia Bravender, Hazel McClure, and Gayle Schaub. Chicago: ACRL, 2015. 264 p. Paper. $48 (ISBN: 978-0-8389-8771-1)

Finalized in early 2015, the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education was created by ACRL to provide a roadmap for librarians working to reimagine their approach to information literacy. The Framework seeks to move what librarians teach from the “how” of information literacy skills to the “why” of information creation and use. This is where “threshold concepts” enter in as the six core concepts identified in the Framework as the key to students’ information literacy: Scholarship as Conversation; Research as Inquiry; Authority is Constructed and Contextual; Information Creation as a Process; Searching as Strategic Exploration; and Information has Value.

Teaching ideas rather than specific skills is a challenge, and Teaching Information Literacy Threshold Concepts models how this can be done with detailed lesson plans for each of the core concepts. Most lesson plans follow a template that includes learning goals; anticipatory sets (ways to engage the students’ attention and help them focus on the topic being taught); lesson objectives; input/modeling (how to present and demonstrate the concept); checks for understanding; guided practice; and independent practice. The lessons themselves typically run from thirty to sixty minutes in length and were contributed by academic librarians from across the United States.

Some of the thirty-four lessons will be familiar to librarians who have been using the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education that the ACRL created in 2000. These include recognizing plagiarism, identifying scholarly versus non-scholarly sources, and developing a research question. Others will be more novel, such as “Crafting a Credible Message,” which helps students understand how information is interconnected. All of the lessons, however, are conceptual rather than skills-based, designed to teach students the “why” of research. This means the lessons easily can be customized by subject-specialist librarians to the specifics of a particular discipline. The hour-long lessons presented here will be helpful to librarians working on campuses with robust information literacy programs in place, and the shorter lessons can be incorporated by those limited to the ubiquitous one-shot classes.

In the appendixes, the editors provide lesson handouts (also available online) as well as a list of lessons that present more than one threshold concept in the course of the class. Also included are the full text of the ACRL’s Framework and a recommended reading list of articles and books that explore threshold concepts in more depth.

The Framework and its six threshold concepts have been embraced by some librarians and dismissed by others. By providing this collection of detailed lesson plans, Teaching Information Literacy Threshold Concepts helps clarify how the Framework can be put to use to teach information literacy in the classroom.—Ann Agee, School of Information Librarian, San Jose State University, San Jose, California


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