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Information literacy at the Library of the University of Konstanz

Project Information Literacy II

“Project Information Literacy II” (actually: "Joint Project on Comparative Research in Information Literacy for advanced students and staff members") is promoted by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), and is the logical advancement of the preceding project.

While the target group of the preceding “Project Information Literacy I” primarily consisted of students during their basic study period, the project Information Literacy II (IL II) focuses on a different and significantly more diverse group. In a broader sense this target group consists of those who work scientifically or in an academic teaching area. This project focuses on postgraduates, doctoral candidates and academics, who are so to speak “advanced” because they have already been in touch with information facilities of the university, they are used to use them and normally assume to know and master these channels of information supply.

Experience has not only shown that since the group of the advanced students is structured extremely heterogeneously, it is hardly possible to find standardized “patent remedies” for reaching this target group or for methods and contents to meet their needs. But it has also shown that most members of the advanced group do not recognize the need of further training in Information Literacy. Another finding is that the interest in institutionalized training courses, goal-oriented events or “preventive actions” decreases with an increasing qualification of the advanced users. For informational matter they live more or less “from the hand to the mouth”, i.e. dependent on requirements and greatly influenced by outer necessities, e.g. lack of time, other duties at the university or personal absence.

Therefore one goal of the project is to do further research about the Information Literacy of advanced users and another one is to develop and field test appropriate methods to support our target group to become information literate. Through the conceptual design of the project in between these two poles – research and teaching – it is to be guaranteed that the outcomes of the new research are directly implemented in the practical testing of the theoretically developed concepts and are proven of their value. On the other hand the results and experiences of the scientists, who directly implement the concepts in their teaching of advanced students, can influence the research work. This reciprocity of empiric and heuristic methods promises to be especially fruitful for the development of sustainable and practicable concepts which will really reach the target group.

The project IL II is not only geared to the latest Information Literacy research in Germany but also has a highly international focus. The project is in close contact with the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) in Wuhan.The exchange with the library of the Academy focuses especially on the question of how to impart Information Literacy and on the informational basic conditions for the use of all kinds of electronic services, most importantly those which are helpful for the information supply of scientists.

Another element of the work with Information Literacy research was a project-focused trip to the USA, on which we could gain valuable insights and best-practice examples.Within Germany the project leads to discussions with information brokers and librarians in order to establish adequate techniques, which are focused on our target-group of the advanced users.

Besides these qualitatively collected data which were recorded in standardized manner, the project also draws upon a quantitative survey with a collection of data of approximately 300 students of Master programs and doctoral candidates at the University of Konstanz. We also evaluate the work load of the librarians caused by their consulting and teaching activities and they review their own teaching.

Based on these results further statements about advanced users´ Information Literacy are to be made and new ways of supporting the target group to gain Information Literacy are to be conceived and proven.

You will find information about the further development of the project here on this website (also see “publications”) as well as in specialized literature.

Project Information Literacy I (2003-2005)

As a key qualification, Information Literacy plays an important role in Bachelor and Master programs at the University of Konstanz. The skills, not only how to find information, but also how to determine the relevancy of information, is often considered as a requirement for successful studies.

Therefore, courses on the topic of Information Literacy are already firmly embodied in the curricula of various departments. The training of Information Literacy is one responsibility of the Library of the University of Konstanz, whose subject librarians conduct courses in their academic areas of expertise.

The Information Literacy Project I (IL I) was founded with the goal of developing and implementing a standardized education concept. The project lasted two years (2003-2005) and was jointly financed by the University of Konstanz and the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts (MWK) of the State of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The project was to combine all previous initiatives and support the subject librarians in the planning and implementation of their courses. The most important part of the project was the development of a modular education program for the training of information literacy. The thereby developed module is to be found under material respectively e-learning.


The main goal of the project IL I was to develop a model course in Information Literacy which can be taught in one semester and consists of various modular units. In the process learning goals were to be defined and the content of the course was to be formulated by taking new teaching methods into account. The course consists of single units, which can be taught individually and separately if needed. Curricula, learning objectives, and appropriate teaching methods and materials were developed for each modular unit of the course. A collection of materials and the development of appropriate evaluation tools expand the range of the offering.

In order to focus on the students’ interests, the subject librarians are able to add current and area-specific topics to the modules. That way the students can see the connection to their field of study and are able to use the newly learned skills in their own studies right away.

There are many advantages of such a modular system: The subject librarian is relieved from some of the conceptual work and preparation of the course. Materials and handouts will also be provided, similar as they would be with a text book, if the course instructor does not wish to use his/her own materials. Depending on time constraints, certain modules can be omitted or “expert modules” (e.g. on the topic of archival research in the subject of History) can be added to the course. The curriculum can be updated more easily and can be presented in a consistent way. Through the parallel development of appropriate evaluation tools, a comparison of several courses and teaching methods is possible.

In addition to the modules developed for the classroom, e-learning components were developed for the courses. In this manner, tests and exercises can be posted making it possible for students to prepare and review the subject matter. With the assistance of evaluation tools such as questionnaires and individual interviews, as well as the exchange of experiences between the subject librarians, individual modules and the overall concept is regularly evaluated and further developed.

The modules which are developed and tested as part of the project are not only intended for use in Konstanz. Therefore the concepts and materials for the courses are made available to other libraries for further use.

Letzte Aktualisierung: 23.07.2008