ProQuest Releases Results of Its 2016 Information Literacy Survey

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — A recent ProQuest survey of over 200 librarians from university, community college, high school and public libraries reveals widespread concerns regarding information literacy.

Though 83 percent of the librarians surveyed agree that information literacy affects college graduation rates, and 97 percent conveyed that it contributes to success in the workforce, 44 percent expressed that their library does not support information literacy instruction as much as it should.

“I see students with low information literacy struggling to understand and complete assignments,” one librarian shared. “Students who possess [information literacy] skills approach these assignments with more confidence and creativity and achieve more success.”

Beyond possible gaps in proper instruction, only 21 percent of librarians surveyed said that they believe their users recognize the importance of information literacy’s effect on lifelong success. 

“No matter which field you enter,” one respondent explained, “you have to be able to discern reliable versus unreliable sources to do your work [and] be able to evaluate content you come across in order to deem whether or not it’s important.”

To combat this perceived lack of understanding, librarians currently engage in a number of techniques and employ a variety of tools, including one-on-one, in-person research consultations; research classes that focus on general research skills or a specific type of research; LibGuides and other asynchronous instruction guides; books and ebooks about the research process; and video tutorials.

While a number of the survey’s respondents conveyed that implementing or improving assessment tools could allow their libraries to better meet their users’ information literacy instruction needs, they also volunteered other ideas on how to achieve this aim. 

One method that repeated came up was integrating information literacy within and across existing curricula, which would boost library users’ skills. Similarly, many respondents said that the answer lies in working more closely with faculty and other instructors – learning about their needs, educating them on the importance of information literacy and the resources the library offers, and encouraging them to include more research-based projects in their coursework. 

“We are badly in need of an integrated presence in the curriculum,” one respondent explained. Another said that “partnering with faculty – and showing faculty the need for [information literacy] – is the number one thing we need to change. If faculty are on board, they will bring their students – we have evidence of this.”

Other ideas recommended included: 

•    developing an information literacy curriculum

•    adding or improving existing online tutorials and resources

•    integrating information literacy instruction into the library’s strategic plan

•    increasing the number of librarians and library staff

•    increasing face-to-face instruction

•    increasing user access to computers, E readers, tablets and other electronic devices

“We’re doing the best we can, but we always aspire to do more,” one librarian shared, discussing the information literacy instruction provided by the library to its users. While librarians seem to widely share this “do more” attitude, this survey also supports that librarians often face similar problems. 

“Overall, lack of budget and limited staffing were reported as some of the greatest obstacles for doing as much as they would like to drive development of this important skill set,” said Kevin Stehr, ProQuest vice president of North American Sales. “But I think this response summed it up best – ‘We’re doing the best we can, but we always aspire to do more.’”

Because the ways that librarians support information literacy vary, ProQuest offers a range of budget-conscious services and products to help teach and reinforce this area of concern. ProQuest’s flexible acquisition models, for example, offer authoritative print and digital content including journals, videos, newspapers and working papers. ProQuest also offers affordable options to support researchers ranging from reference content to provide a foundation to titles that offer vast breadth and depth of coverage on specific topics.

A report on the survey’s full results can be found here: