This summer, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) presented for comment a draft of its Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. The Framework outlines the key concepts and objectives that today’s information literacy curricula should encompass. This The last of the six “frames” outlined by ACRL states that “Information has Value.” Under this, the drafters recognize that information has value as intellectual property, and therefore, learners, as both consumers and creators, of works have responsibilities to preserve this value. These responsibilities include giving proper credit and attribution to creators of works, understanding the basics of intellectual property law in the United States, differentiating between the creation of original works and remixing or repurposing existing works, identifying works in the public domain, and recognizing the importance of access to information. Libraries have been increasingly engaged in instructing college students in these areas. Librarians practicing in the area known as scholarly communications regularly provide workshops and resources on academic integrity (proper citation and attribution), copyright, open access, and creative commons licensing. However, a recent editorial in the Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that the responsibility of educating college students on these responsibilities does not solely rest with libraries. UCLA engineering professor John Vellasenor suggests that “colleges owe it to their student to do a better job of offering courses that provide a foundational awareness” of intellectual property. Intellectual property is not just for lawyers, Vellasenor correctly posits, but is instead for students of every discipline as every field of study involves some level of creativity. However, he observes, the need for such instruction is not generally recognized across disciplines, and faculty are not likely to offer a course that is solely on the topic of intellectual property or that includes this as a significant topic of study within another course. This is an opportunity for librarians to become more embedded in curriculum of the universities where they work. Librarians already recognize the importance of intellectual property as a component of information literacy instruction, and with faculty starting to see the need for students to have a basic understanding of intellectual property, librarians have the duty to step up and assist with filling this need.
Has your library started partnering with faculty to meet this need? Do you have any thoughts about this opportunity? I look forward to hearing from you.