SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy

In 1999, The SCONUL Working Group on Information Literacy published “Information skills in higher education: a SCONUL position paper” (SCONUL, 1999), introducing the Seven Pillars of Information Skills model. Since then, the model has been adopted by librarians and teachers around the world as a means of helping them to deliver information skills to their learners.

In 2012 the model was updated and expanded to reflect more clearly the range of different terminologies and concepts which we now understand as “Information Literacy”. In order for the model to be relevant to different user communities and ages, the new model is presented as a generic “core” model for Higher Education, to which a series of “lenses”, representing the different groups of learners, can be applied.

SCONUL definition of Information Literacy:
“Information literate people will demonstrate an awareness of how they gather, use, manage, synthesise and create information and data in an ethical manner and will have the information skills to do so effectively.”

In the 21st century, information literacy is a key attribute for everyone, irrespective of age or experience. Information Literacy is evidenced through understanding the ways in which information and data is created and handled, learning skills in its management and use and modifying learning attitudes, habits and behaviours to appreciate the role of information literacy in learning. In this context learning is understood as the constant search for meaning by the acquisition of information, reflection, engagement and active application in multiple contexts (NASPA, 2004).

Developing as an information literate person is a continuing, holistic process with often simultaneous activities or processes which can be encompassed within the Seven Pillars of Information Literacy. Within each “pillar” an individual can develop from “novice” to “expert” as they progress through their learning life, although, as the information world itself is constantly changing and developing, it is possible to move down a pillar as well as progress up it. The expectations of levels reached on each pillar may be different in different contexts and for different ages and levels of learner and is also dependent on experience and information need. Any information literacy development must therefore also be considered in the context of the broad information landscape in which an individual operates and their personal information literacy landscape (Bent, 2008).

SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy: Core Model