The University of Rhode Island Libraries’ Information Literacy Program has been recognized nationally by the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) for its exemplary practices.

The ACRL solicited applications for recognition from schools with information literacy programs last spring. URI was one of only 14 colleges chosen to be recognized in one or more of the ten “Best Practices” categories, having been acknowledged for their goals and objectives, articulation within the curriculum and pedagogy.

Mary MacDonald, the program’s head of instruction, said she and her colleagues are honored to receive recognition alongside Association of Research Libraries (ARL) members, like Purdue University Libraries and the George Washington University.

“Whenever we are mentioned in their company, we are very gratified,” she said.

URI’s program was also one of the first schools to be recognized by the ACRL back in 2001. The program was designed based on the ACRL’s competency standards for higher education which were, at the time, only a year old. To be acknowledged today, with so many other schools adhering to these guidelines, the recognition means so much more, MacDonald said.

“When we were recognized again, we were very happy because it means that we are continuing to serve the students at the university in the best way possible and that our faculty is recognized across the nation for our good work,” she said. “We’re very proud of ourselves and we’re proud of our colleagues.”

According to MacDonald, the current Information Literacy Program began development in 2000 in order to replace the less structured instruction that existed at the time.

“The department realized that we were teaching thousands and thousands of students a year and we wanted to make a cohesive scaffolded plan for how we would develop a library curriculum,” she said. The program’s overall goal is to include, “instruction for all students at the university in finding, evaluating and effectively using information resources,” MacDonald said.

Jim Kinnie, an associate professor and the library’s liaison to the arts, English and music departments, attributes the recognition they received for articulation within the curriculum to the outreach responsibilities he and his colleagues have. “We all serve on university committees and we keep up on curriculum changes,” he said.

Kinnie also attributes their recognition in pedagogy to their hands-on approach to teaching. “The style of teaching that we employ is very much active learning,” MacDonald said.  “Any student in our courses will tell you there’s very little lecture.”

Due to changes being made to the general education program in the next year or so, MacDonald said information literacy courses will be reconfigured to fit with new higher level general education classes.

“We are talking about putting out information literacy courses that are higher rated so that students can really get into their information needs at a level that’s appropriate for them,” said Peter Larsen, associate professor and engineering liaison.

While this new system will require many changes to the library’s program, MacDonald said the program is always changing. “We look at the whole program overall and say: ‘What meets the needs of students in the programs and the courses that they’re taking?’” she said. “We’re constantly revising and tweaking to see if we’re serving [students] in the best way possible.”