Library: Program Goals


Library Learning Goals (Updated: November 21, 2018)

The goals and outcomes listed below are intended to enhance students’ understanding of the research process. The Library works in collaboration with faculty across all disciplines to help students develop the dispositions and skills necessary to achieve these learning outcomes by the time they graduate from Goucher.

Please see our Information Literacy Program for more information on opportunities for faculty to collaborate with librarians to infuse an undergraduate course or major assignment sequence with information literacy instruction.

The Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Framework provides the following definition of information literacy:

“Information literacy is 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”

1. Strategize

Rationale: In order to find the information they need, students must first be able to clearly define their information need and understand what resources are available to them.

Specific Outcomes:

  • Identify library services and resources in order to develop a realistic overall plan for research.
  • Use general information resources to increase familiarity with the topic and disciplinary vocabulary.
  • Define the research topic, question, or thesis to achieve a manageable focus appropriate to the assignment criteria, available resources, and evidence needed to support the thesis.
  • Identify keywords, synonyms, and related terms in order to flexibly search information resources.
  • Identify the range of source types available (such as peer-reviewed journals, newspaper articles, books, reference sources, etc.), as well as their distinguishing characteristics and intended audiences, in order to select those appropriate based on the information need.
  • Identify the features and content of different research tools (such as databases, catalogs, and websites) in order to search those most appropriate to the information need.
  • Develop a strategy for persisting in information seeking despite challenges in order to overcome potential roadblocks in research.

2. Gather and Organize

Definition: Students will effectively search information resources, modify their search or topic when necessary, seek out sources from diverse perspectives, and record what they have found.

Rationale: In an era of information abundance, students need to be able to focus on the appropriate sources and target their search effectively in order to find the most relevant information. It is also important that they seek out diverse points of view in order to broaden their perspectives.

Specific Outcomes:

  • Identify and use language, controlled vocabulary or search features appropriate to the research tool in order to retrieve relevant results.
  • Narrow, broaden, or modify their search, research topic, question, or thesis based on initial search results.
  • Seek resources from diverse perspectives in order to broaden their frame of reference.
  • Select appropriate means for recording or saving relevant sources in order to retrieve them when needed.
  • Observe and use pointers to additional information (authors, footnotes, bibliographies, controlled vocabulary, etc.) in order to locate additional sources.
  • Devise a system for keeping up with the latest research on their topic(s).

3. Analyze and Evaluate

Definition: Students will critically evaluate information sources for relevance, accuracy, quality, timeliness, authority, and context as well as appraising whether they have sufficient support for their argument.

Rationale: In order to develop an informed community, users of information must be able to critically evaluate what is presented to them.

Specific Outcomes:

  • Examine a work’s citation and abstract in order to determine its relevance to their
  • Critically examine sources for depth of coverage, quality, and validity in order to select those appropriate to the information need.
  • Recognize the cultural, physical, social and historical contexts of an information source in order to understand how they influence the content.

4. Use Information Ethically

Definition: Students will demonstrate ethical behavior through their use and creation of

Rationale: Cognizance of one’s ethical responsibility to others is critical to developing social responsibility.  When students understand the impact of scholarly communications and see themselves as contributors to a larger conversation, they will better understand the responsibility that comes with participation in that conversation.

Specific Outcomes:

  • Recognize issues related to privacy, ethics, intellectual property and copyright in order to respect the rights of others, comply with laws and contracts, or safeguard personal information.
  • Provide attribution using an appropriate citation style when quoting or
    paraphrasing the ideas of others in order to acknowledge the research sources used.
  • Apply the author’s intended meaning when quoting or paraphrasing in order to
    accurately represent content.


ACRL. (Feb. 2, 2015). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Retrieved from