Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Literacies Large and Small: The Case of Information Literacy

James K. Elmborg.

Information Literacy has been an important movement in academic libraries for at least the past decade. Still, there is no consensus about how to define information literacy or how broadly or narrowly to apply literacy theory to the work of librarians. In fact, the emphasis in applying standards and definitions has been to practice “strategies of containment” that diminish the impact of literacy theory on the daily practices of librarianship. These strategies have focused on protecting the library as warehouse of externalized knowledge and the librarian as mediator between that knowledge and the students and faculty who need to use that knowledge in the educational process. The end result has been that information literacy’s power to transform libraries has been neutralized and contained. This presentation will explore the rationale and methods of these strategies of containment and the ways that critical literacy theory might radically change the practice of libraries and librarians in colleges and universities.


James K. Elmborg  (United States)
Assistant Professor
School of Library and Information Science
The University of Iowa

James Elmborg is an Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at The University of Iowa. His research explores learning theories and their application to the academic library context. He is currently engaged in applying critical literacy models to the daily practices of reference and teaching librarians. He has extensive teaching experience in a variety of institutions, including rural high schools, urban high schools, and universities from the freshman level through graduate school. He is the author of one book and numerous articles, including “Teaching at the Desk: Toward a Reference Pedagogy,” which was named outstanding publication of 2003 by the Instruction Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries.

  • Information Literacy
  • Critical Literacy
  • College and University Libraries

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)