Barton Library


Barton Academic Research Tools

The Barton Library has created the Barton Academic Research Tools, a multi-literacies (ML) program that instructs students in the areas of information literacy, primary source literacy, visual literacy, digital and data information literacy, and artificial intelligence literacy. While literacy was once confined to printed or written forms of language, multi-literacies has expanded to involve various modes of representation across linguistic and cultural boundaries including audio, gestures, and visual designs. Learning materials focus on "21st-century skills," including research, problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and creativity, that meet the academic needs of community college students and those intending to transfer to a four-year university, as well as for professional, lifelong learning, and/or personal needs. Successfully achieving the ML program's learning outcomes will enable students to become proficient inquirers, astute consumers of textual evidence and visual media, and, ultimately, active and informed citizens.


The Barton Library endeavors to teach students the following skills regardless of format:

  • How individuals create, distribute, gather, and consume information.
  • How to determine the extent of needed information.
  • How to ethically and legally access information.
  • How to critically evaluate information and its sources.
  • How to use information and information systems and technologies ethically and effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.
  • How to consider the impact of information in modern society through the examination of information issues and information-seeking behavior.

In-Library and Website Support

  • Instructors can schedule a library instruction session for their course by contacting their assigned subject specialist librarian.
  • Introductory Library tours with an overview of academic resources.
  • Orientations to library research tailored to meet specific course needs.
  • Hands-on practice in how to use databases and Internet resources.
  • Guidance in strategies for Internet searching and evaluation.
  • Discipline- or course-centered Research Guides.
  • Citation Guides.
  • One-on-one or group research appointments to review research plans, search strategies, etc.
Information Literacy
Information Literacy


The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) defines information literacy as “the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.”

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions declared in the Alexandria Proclamation on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning (2005) that “information literacy and lifelong learning are the beacons of the Information Society, illuminating the courses to development, prosperity and freedom. Information Literacy lies at the core of lifelong learning. It empowers people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals. It is a basic human right in a digital world and promotes social inclusion of all nations.

“Lifelong learning enables individuals, communities and nations to attain their goals and to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the evolving global environment for shared benefit. It assists them and their institutions to meet technological, economic and social challenges, to redress disadvantage and to advance the well-being of all.”

Information literacy involves the awareness of how information is created, accessed, shared, and valued, and the ability to effectively and ethically identify, locate, evaluate, organize, apply, and communicate information in multiple formats and within cultural and social contexts.

Information literacy is comprised of:

  • Conceptual perceptions, such as a recognition of how and why information has value or may be considered authoritative.
  • Behaviors or attitudes, including persistence and flexibility when engaged in research.
  • Core skills or competencies, such as the ability to effectively locate and access the needed information.

Benefits of Information Literacy

In 2017, the Greater Western Library Alliance conducted a survey of 42,624 students in more than 1,725 first-year courses that had incorporated an information literacy component. The study, which was performed at twelve major universities, found that in eight institutions retention rates were higher for students whose courses had included information literacy instruction. Additionally, these information literate students reported an average increase of 0.02 percent in their first-year GPAs than those who had not received such instruction. They also were expected to complete 1.8 more credit hours.

Jeremy Shapiro and Shelly Hughes (1996) asserted information literacy should range from "knowing how to use computers and access information to critical reflection on the nature of information itself, its technical infrastructure, and its social, cultural and even philosophical context and impact—as essential to the mental framework of the educated information-age citizen as the trivium of basic liberal arts (grammar, logic and rhetoric) was to the educated person in medieval society."

As noted, information literacy will be a lifelong learning process that must develop even after students leave higher education and engage with an increasingly endless volume of information through the internet, mass media, and published works. The quality of information varies greatly between available sources, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities reported that the intellectual and practical skill of information literacy is an essential learning outcome for students as they prepare to encounter twenty-first century challenges.

Six Concepts of Information Literacy

The Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (ACRL, 2016) identifies six core information literacy concepts:

  • Authority Is Constructed and Contextual — Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required.
  • Information Creation as a Process — Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences.
  • Information Has Value — Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination.
  • Research as Inquiry — Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.
  • Scholarship as Conversation — Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations.
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration — Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops.

Competency Standards

The ACRL has published a number of companion documents to the information literacy standards that establish competencies relevant to certain academic disciplines:

Recommended Materials

The Barton Library has created several learning aids to assist students in assessing sources. When weighing the merits of a scholarly work, avail yourself of the Evaluating Resources (S.T.A.R.T.) guide. With numerous choices of materials available to students, see the Library's thoughts on Reliable Publishers.

Additional Resources

Final Report (National Forum on Information Literacy)

Information Literacy (American Library Association)

Information Literacy Section (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions)

International Alliance for Information Literacy (IAIL)

UNESCO Media and Information Literacy

Primary Source Literacy
Primary Source Literacy


There is no one definition of a primary source in terms of format or age of the materials. Yale University defines the term as “firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. The nature and value of a source cannot be determined without reference to the topic and questions it is meant to answer. The same document, or other piece of evidence, may be a primary source in one investigation and secondary in another. The search for primary sources does not, therefore, automatically include or exclude any category of records or documents.”

The Association of College and Research Libraries’ Rare Book and Manuscript Section and the Society of American Archivists have defined primary source literacy as “the combination of knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, and ethically use primary sources within specific disciplinary contexts, in order to create new knowledge or to revise existing understandings.”

Primary source literacy interconnects with information literacy, visual literacy, and digital literacy, and with concepts such as collective memory, cultural heritage, and individual and cultural perspectives.

Benefits of Primary Source Literacy

Ithaka S+R coordinated a survey of twenty-five public and private research universities and liberal arts colleges in the United State and the United Kingdom. The results, published in 2021, reveal that educators overwhelmingly value the complex critical thinking and evaluation skills that can be realized when working with primary sources.

Six Concepts of Primary Source Literacy

The Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy (ACRL/RBMS-SAA, 2018) identify six core concepts to support successful work with primary sources:

  • Analytical Concepts — The nature of primary sources requires researchers to engage with them analytically. Users activate primary sources through hypothesis, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, critical thinking, and evaluation; they use sources to develop both questions and arguments. Primary source analysis requires the interrogation of materiality, historical context, and narrative.
  • Ethical Concepts — Users need to understand the ethical concepts related to applicable laws and regulations, privacy rights, cultural context, donor agreements, copyright, and intellectual property when working with primary sources.
  • Theoretical Concepts — Ideas such as evidence, authority, power, authenticity, context, materiality, historical empathy, agency, value, absences, and privilege underpin the collection, arrangement, and presentation of primary sources. 
  • Practical Considerations — There are practical considerations particular to using primary sources that users should be aware of. Practical skills necessary for primary source research include finding, accessing, gathering, and handling primary sources in a variety of formats and locations.

Additional Resources

Engaging Students with Primary Sources (Smithsonian National Museum of American History)

Teaching with Primary Sources Collective

Teaching with Primary Sources Partner Program (Library of Congress)

Visual Literacy
Visual Literacy


The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) defines visual literacy as “a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Visual literacy skills equip a learner to understand and analyze the contextual, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, intellectual, and technical components involved in the production and use of visual materials. A visually literate individual is both a critical consumer of visual media and a competent contributor to a body of shared knowledge and culture.”

Benefits of Visual Literacy

Visual literacy is an essential learning method to enhance one’s critical thinking. The Generation Z students currently in higher education, and the Generation Alpha who will follow, are immersed in visual technology and often see the world through images, videos, illustrations, infographics, or maps. They are naturally visual learners, but sometimes lack the skills to fully realize critical thinking that is based in analysis and observing connections between information and concepts. Once students are able to more closely observe, critically examine, and interpret visuals, they may begin to understand the full context and content of a topic, see the “big picture,” and think in more creative and open-minded ways

Four Concepts of Visual Literacy

The Framework for Visual Literacy in Higher Education (ACRL, 2022) is a companion to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education and identifies four core visual literacy concepts:

  • Learners participate in a changing visual information landscape — The life cycles of visual materials are continually being altered by evolving technology, practices, and techniques. At the same time, content creators and users add layers of subjective meaning to images.
  • Learners perceive visuals as communicating information — Visual images transmit messages that convey a host of contexts. Those receiving visuals will need to analyze and interpret the various elements of communication.
  • Learners practice visual discernment and criticality.
  • Learners pursue social justice through visual practice.

Additional Resources

International Visual Literacy Association (IVLA)

Digital and Data Information Literacy
Digital and Data Information Literacy


The American Library Association’s Office of Information Technology Policy defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.”

Carlson et al. (2011) define data information literacy as “a social process, and contributing to—not just extracting from—the community’s knowledgebase … Data information literacy, then, merges the concepts of researcher-as-producer and researcher-as-consumer of data products. As such it builds upon and reintegrates data, statistical, information and science data literacy into an emerging skill set.”

Benefits of Digital Literacy

Generation Z students (born between 1997 and 2013), and the succeeding Generation Alpha (born 2013 to 2025), are coming of age in a world that sees nearly universal use of digital technology, extensive internet access, and constantly evolving smartphone applications. Often known as "digital natives," they have needs, preferences, and expectations not expressed by earlier generations. Digital literacy will create new user experiences for these generations and allow them to reach their academic and professional goals. Digital literacy skills foster critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving in every academic discipline. The ability to use content-creation tools allows for a deeper engagement with course content, for a better grasp of information, and for the ability to communicate knowledge visually and digitally.

Concepts of Digital Literacy

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (“Virginia Tech”) Libraries has developed a Digital Literacy Framework that establishes seven core competencies:

  • Identity & Wellbeing — Identify personal learning needs and goals when engaging in digital environments. Explain the impact of communication choices on online identity development, privacy, and security in a digital environment. Recognize opportunities to manage personal data, privacy, and security in a digital environment. Create and manage online identities that align to personal and professional values and goals. Plan strategies to manage emotional and physical health in digital personal and professional settings.
  • Discovery — Recognize the value of curiosity, exploration, and play in the  discovery process. Identify information needs and gaps in personal knowledge. Locate and explore ideas from multiple viewpoints and perspectives. Evaluate and adapt search strategies during the discovery process.
  • Evaluation — Critically analyze information/media/data to determine its relevance, accuracy, purpose, and bias based on contextual needs. Recognize how algorithms and personalization may influence online information exposure. Reflect on how personal viewpoints and values may influence engagement with data/information/media. Evaluate platforms and tools to determine access, usability, and suitability.
  • Ethics — Analyze differences in access, rights, and vulnerabilities of individuals and groups. Distinguish between ethics, laws, and codified norms. Identify rights and responsibilities when using, creating, and sharing digital data/information/media. Apply relevant ethical principles in personal, professional, and academic contexts. Adapt ethical principles when navigating new digital contexts.
  • Creativity & Scholarship — Recognize that the creative process can involve a variety of emotional experiences. Examine how format, genre, discipline, and audience can affect creative choices. Practice an iterative design process towards specific goals. Engage in troubleshooting while using tools. Create original works and repurpose or remix existing works.
  • Communication & Collaboration — Apply communication conventions and norms in online communities. Recognize ways power structures influence interactions, sharing, and collaboration. Develop roles and shared expectations for collaboration when working in groups. Use relevant tools and strategies for digitally mediated collaboration. Analyze the effectiveness of team roles, collaborative tools, processes, and outcomes.
  • Curation — Select tools and format considering accessibility and compatibility over time. Apply organizational principles to data/information/media. Create a plan to preserve, maintain, and sunset data/information/media. Assemble content for the purpose of meaning-making and sharing.

CC-BY Julia Feerrar and Kelsey Hammer (2020).

Benefits of Data Information Literacy

Graduates entering the workforce or transferring to a four-year institution must be able to navigate personal and professional settings in which data plays an increasingly important role. The volume of available data continues to multiply at an exponential rate as the internet of things develops, the open data movement broadens, and social media and mobile devices continue to generate vast quantities of data. Students will need to act as critical and ethical consumers of quantitative and qualitative data in order to understand analytical concepts and use them to process information and make decisions.

Concepts of Data Information Literacy

The Data Information Literacy (DIL) Project has developed twelve core objectives for data information literacy that can be a common reference for the production and critical use of data as well as research data management. Thus, the framework can be applied equally to the data roles of producer, manager, and consumer. Furthermore, the core competencies use broad language applicable to an assortment of disciplines and professions:

  • Introduction to databases and data formats — Understands the concept of relational databases and how to query those databases, and becomes familiar with standard data formats and types for the discipline. Understands which formats and data types are appropriate for different research questions.
  • Discovery and acquisition of data — Locates and utilizes disciplinary data repositories. Identifies appropriate data sources and can import data and convert it when necessary, so that it can be used by downstream processing tools.
  • Data management and organization — Understands the life cycle of data, develops data management plans, and records the relationship of subsets or processed data to the original data sets. Creates standard operating procedures for data management and documentation.
  • Data conversion and interoperability — Proficient in migrating data from one format to another. Understands the risks and potential loss or corruption of information caused by changing data formats. Understands the benefits of making data available in standard formats to facilitate downstream use.
  • Quality assurance — Recognizes and resolves any apparent artifacts, incompletion, or corruption of data sets. Utilizes metadata to anticipate potential problems with data sets.
  • Metadata — Understands the rationale for metadata and proficiently annotates and describes data so it can be understood and used by members of the work group and external users. Develops the ability to read and interpret metadata from external disciplinary sources. Understands the structure and purpose of ontologies in facilitating better sharing of data.
  • Data curation and reuse — Recognizes that data may have value beyond the original purpose, (i.e., to validate research or for use by others). Understands that curating data is a complex, often costly endeavor that is nonetheless vital to community-driven e-research. Recognizes that data must be prepared for its eventual curation at its creation and throughout its life cycle. Articulates the planning and actions needed to enable data curation.
  • Cultures of practice — Recognizes the practices, values, and norms of the chosen field, discipline, or subdiscipline as they relate to managing, sharing, curating, and preserving data. Recognizes relevant data standards of a field (metadata, quality, formatting, and so forth) and understands how these standards are applied.
  • Data preservation — Recognizes the benefits and costs of data preservation. Understands the technology, resource, and organizational components of preserving data. Utilizes best practices in preservation appropriate to the value and reproducibility of data.
  • Data analysis — Becomes familiar with the basic analysis tools of the discipline. Uses appropriate workflow management tools to automate repetitive analysis of data.
  • Data visualization — Proficiently uses basic visualization tools of the discipline and avoids misleading or ambiguous representations. Understands the advantages of different types of visualization — for example, maps, graphs, animations, or videos — for different purposes.
  • Ethics, including citation of data — Understands intellectual property, privacy, and confidentiality issues and the ethos of the discipline related to sharing data. Appropriately acknowledges data from external sources.

Competency Standards for Data Information Literacy

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has published several adaptations to their Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education for areas specifically associated with data literacy:

Additional Resources

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy (Teacher’s Tech Corner)

Digital Literacy (American Library Association)

Digital Literacy (State Library of Kansas)

Data Information Literacy Project (Institute of Museum and Library Services)

Artificial Intelligence Literacy
Artificial Intelligence Literacy


Duri Long and Brian Magerko, Georgia Institute of Technology, have defined artificial intelligence literacy as “a set of competencies that enables individuals to critically evaluate AI literacy; communicate and collaborate effectively with AI; and use AI as a tool online, at home, and in the workplace.”

Benefits of Artificial Intelligence Literacy

According to Forbes Magazine, the market for artificial intelligence (AI) applications is expected to reach 190 billion by 2025. Human beings interact with AI on a daily basis, and the new technology has seen use in nearly every industry such as business, science, art, and education. AI literacy complements information literacy, data literacy, digital literacy, open access, and research data management. As AI writing generators become more prevalent, AI literacy will grow increasingly essential for students so that they may fully appreciate the technology’s capabilities, usability, and drawbacks, and the corresponding ethics.

Concepts of Artificial Intelligence Literacy

Artificial intelligence literacy is a fledging field of study, so no national organization has as of yet published a recognized set of concepts. In the interim, Long and Magerko (2020) have developed a conceptual framework that defines eight core competencies for AI literacy programs.

  • Recognizing AI
  • Understanding Intelligence
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • General vs. Narrow
  • AI’s Strengths & Weaknesses
  • Imagine Future AI
  • Representations
  • Decision-Making

Additional Resources

Artificial Intelligence (EDUCAUSE)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) (University of Maryland Teaching & Learning Transformation Center)

Artificial Intelligence and Copyright (U.S. Copyright Office)

Artificial Intelligence in Education (UNESCO)

Artificial Intelligence Writing (University of Central Florida)

Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights (White House)