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CSUN's Information Competence Program

CSUN's Information Competence Program

Information competence (also referred to as information literacy or information fluency in some publications) is a core instructional pedagogy in higher education and a requirement within the CSUN General Education Program. Many of the CSUN courses, both GE and major-specific, that visit the University Library for library instruction sessions during a semester, come for librarian-led instruction and specialized training to help students acquire critical information literacy skills and obtain assistance with their course-related research assignments.

Information Competence Instruction at the University Library

Course Integrated Instruction: Librarians at the University Library teach more than 750 course-integrated library instruction sessions per year. Librarians are available to instruct students on how to find and evaluate resources for research papers and other course assignments. Each session is tailored to meet the curricular needs of each course. Sessions can be booked by faculty via the Library Instruction Form. Subject Liaison Librarians and classroom faculty work collaboratively to integrate information competency into department and college curricula at California State University Northridge.

New One Unit Experimental Library Course Offering: During the Spring 2023 semester, the University Library began offering a stand-alone one-unit course LIB296A: The Information Ecosystem. The Library is offering two sections of LIB296A in the Fall 2023 semester. Please make sure to check the CSUN Schedule of Classes to check for future LIB296A enrollment opportunities.

CSUN's General Education Information Competence Requirements

CSUN GE Courses listed as information competence (IC) designated courses, require students to progressively acquire information competence skills by developing an understanding of information retrieval tools and practices, as well as improving their ability to evaluate and synthesize information ethically. At California State University Northridge, students must take two IC-designated courses, one in the Basic Skills section and one course in the Subject Explorations section. Courses meeting CSUN's IC GE Requirements are listed in the CSUN Catalog. According to California State University's published CSU General Education Breadth requirements, information literacy is an area that enrolled students need to fulfill in order to improve student success and "to assure that graduates have made noteworthy progress toward becoming truly educated persons."

Information Literacy Standards

At the University Library, CSUN students attending library instruction sessions receive librarian-led instruction that is centered on the core information literacy curricular standards adopted by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).

ACRL, the primary professional organization for academic librarians, first described information literacy in 1989 with the publication of the Information Literacy Standards for Higher Education and/or information literacy language into their documents.

An Information Competent student is able to:

  • Determine the extent of information needed;
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently;
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically;
  • Incorporate selected information into one's knowledge base;
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose;
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information;
  • Access and use information ethically and legally

Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education

University Librarians also strive to incorporate ACRL's more recent student learning goals for information literacy, the ACRL Framework as appropriate within each requested library instructional session.

What is the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education?

The ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education is based on a cluster of interconnected core concepts, with flexible options for implementation rather than a set of standards or learning outcomes, or any prescriptive enumeration of skills. At the heart of this Framework are conceptual understandings that organize many other concepts and ideas about information, research and scholarship into a coherent whole. The Framework is organized into six frames, each consisting of a concept central to information literacy, a set of knowledge practices, and a set of dispositions. The six concepts that anchor the frames are presented alphabetically:

CSU Information Competence Initiative

According to the CSU Information Competence Initiative, the best way to ensure that students have the skills that they need is to design an information competence program integrated into the curriculum and built on strong alliances between classroom faculty and library faculty. Strategies will differ by department and programs found at each CSU campus. These efforts include information literacy programming found in CSUN's Freshman Orientation/Seminar Courses, General Education Courses, as well as in disciplinary Cornerstone and Capstone Classes or Information Competency Mastery Requirements.

More Information

For historical background information about the establishment of the information competence requirement in the CSU, see the California State University Information Literacy Fact Sheet. If you have further questions about our information competence program, please contact the University Library’s Information Literacy and Instruction Coordinator at