There is an ethical component to information literacy. Most often it’s been framed in terms of plagiarism and piracy, as in the old ACRL Standards for Information Literacy. But the current ACRL Framework for Information Literacy puts it in the threshold concept Information Has Value and begins to recognize issues of power and influence.  “Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination. … Experts understand that value may be wielded by powerful interests in ways that marginalize certain voices.” (

The difference, as I see it, is that the Framework is aspirational where the Standards aimed for practicality. 

I think there’s a historical lesson here in the tension between aspirations and practicality. The open ed movement of the 70s had high ambitions, but the systems of education also have practical needs. In Roland Barth’s postmortem on the movement, he wrote that open ed started from a general philosophy about learning held by some practitioners, and became a marketing label applied to products pushed by vendors. But the practice has to proceed from the philosophy. Where it didn’t, it was not effective.

As information literacy developed as a concept it became codified into the ACRL Standards, which gave us a practical way to teach and assess, but also presented a diminished vision. Returning to Peterson’s aims of education, to understand, modify and enjoy, the Standards gave us a model focused on the first element, while the other two are more compelling. The Framework aims to be more ambitious.

Open Ed in the US these days is very focused on OER. Free textbooks. Pushing product. It’s very practical, but not as compelling as it could be. Many people like me in the library profession are drawn to OER as a way to help our students. But it’s not empowering in the way that open ed or info lit can be.