Library skills - also known as information and digital literacy - are fundamental for students at all levels. There are three core skills to develop effectively: finding, evaluating, and referencing information.
Why is information and digital literacy useful?
There are two main reasons:
- Being digitally literate helps you to better engage with information. You will be able to discover information more effectively, critically evaluate the information you have found, and reference this information accurately.
- In the age of AI, social media, and fake news it’s easier than ever to access information that is unsound or unaccountable. Understanding this information environment can help you become a better informed and more confident citizen in wider life.
The 3 core areas
Each area of digital and information literacy has three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. These broadly correspond to the years of an undergraduate degree.
As you progress through your degree and grow as a researcher you should become competent with the activities listed for each level. If you feel you need guidance with any of them, sources of help are listed at the bottom of this page.
Finding information to support your academic work.
- Beginner: Making use of digital and non-digital information through guided reading and independent discovery. Recognising different types of information from a reading list or a list of search results.
- Intermediate: Searching beyond the reading lists for your units, and being selective in the amount and quality of information found.
- Advanced: Constructing a search strategy across subject databases, using techniques such as search operators. Recognising that different types of information can be subject to various usage and access policies, including copyright legislation.
Find out more about discovering information.
Critically engaging with the information you find.
- Beginner: Understanding scholarly indicators of quality, such as the difference between peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed information. Being aware of the advantages and disadvantages of generative AI.
- Intermediate: Asking questions about authorship, including being aware of potential sources of bias (e.g. economic, ideological, historical).
- Advanced: Situating information within its historical context to better understand potential biases and limitations. Reflexively asking whether your own situation influences how you read and evaluate information.
Find out more about evaluating information.
Incorporating sources into your work, with due attention to matters of academic integrity.
- Beginner: Quoting, summarising, and paraphrasing information, as well as using the referencing style appropriate to your subject and creating a bibliography and/or reference list.
- Intermediate: Understanding the reasons for referencing as an academic convention. Using the basic features of reference management software (e.g. EndNote).
- Advanced: Citing and attributing information with consideration of the broader context of an author’s work. Using advanced features of reference management software.
Find out more about referencing.
These library skills represent a pathway to information and digital literacy.
If you need help with any of them feel free to contact your Subject Librarian, who you can find by searching for your subject here.
If you need help with library skills, take a look at our Events page to find workshops and other training events. All are free to attend.
Further reading for academics and librarians
The above is an abridged version of our information and digital literacy framework. You can find a comprehensive and fully-referenced version here: IDL Framework (PDF, 124kB).
For a set of case studies illustrating how our information and digital literacy teaching has been carried out across the University, see here: IDL Case Studies (PDF, 3,464kB).
For further help and support please contact your subject librarian, who you can find listed by subject here.
This tutorial will familiarise you with the basic features of Library Search, and some advanced ones too.