Information literacy is defined by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) as "a set of abilities requiring individuals to 'recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information'" (2004). According to the 2004 standards, "An information literate individual is able to:
- Determine the extent of information needed
- Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
- Evaluate information and its sources critically
- Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
- Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
- Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally"
In 2015, the ACRL expanded their understanding of this concept, recognizing that a framework for information literacy would allow librarians, professors, and students to understand information literacy within the context of concepts for learning. These six threshold concepts promote development of metaliteracy as part of students' toolbelt; metaliteracy "expands the scope of traditional information skills (determine, access, locate, understand, produce, and use information) to include the collaborative production and sharing of information in participatory digital environments (collaborate, produce, and share)," a key part of developing critical thinking skills in the 21st century learner (Mackey and Jacobson, 2014, cited in note 7).