College libraries in a North American sample experienced a dramatic 
upsurge in the number of information literacy classes or presentations 
given in 2007, according to a new report from Primary Research Group.  

Primary Research Group’s new report – College Information Literacy Efforts 
Benchmarks (ISBN# 1-57440-099-1) is a North American survey presenting 
data on the information literacy efforts of colleges from the United 
States and Canada.  

Some of the key findings of the 175-page report were that:

•	The mean percentage change in the number of classes or 
presentations given between the fall semester of 2007 and 2006 was 
+20.26%, with a median of +5%. The minimum offered in the sample was -50% 
while the maximum was 576%.

•	A mean of 9.64 instructors gave formal classroom instruction or 
presentations in information literacy in the last year for which 
statistics are available, with a median of 4 and maximum of 325. U.S. 
respondents had almost 3 times as many instructors giving sessions than 
did Canadian colleges.

•	Business, psychology, sociology, nursing, education, and English 
were commonly listed as one of the top three academic departments that had 
requested the most library instructional presentations or classes in the 
past year. 

•	Librarians in the survey estimated that 23.5% of their students 
that had not taken any formal information literacy training  knew a few 
essentials of Boolean searching. In our prompt, we indicated that Boolean 
searching basics included the use of quotation marks, “or” and “and.” 
Private colleges reported that 32.5% of their students fell into this 
category; public colleges, 18.3%.

•	Data was more hopeful in assessing the student body’s skills in 
using the online library catalog. Nearly 45% said their student body was 
competent, while 42% said they had basic knowledge at best. Just 9% 
considered them very unskilled, and nearly 4% reported they were highly 
proficient. Canadian libraries were 3 times more likely than U.S. ones to 
consider their students highly proficient in the use of the online catalog.

•	Just over 13% of survey participants administered a test to assess 
student skills in Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet software.

•	Almost 17% administered a test to incoming freshmen or transfer 
students on their understanding of plagiarism. Almost 27% of research 
universities gave such a test. Nearly 21% of colleges with over 10,000 FTE 
students also gave this test, nearly twice the rate of mid-sized schools. 

•	Almost 70% of the sample used student evaluation forms to assess 
the performance of information literacy or other library science 
instructors. Student evaluation forms were more popular with public 
colleges than private, and most popular with research universities, 80% of 
whom reported using such forms. 

•	63% of survey participants offer presentations or brief classes to 
new students during new student orientation. Such classes were more 
commonly offered by Canadian libraries, research universities, and 
colleges with fewer than 1,000 FTE students. 71% of libraries at which 
librarians held faculty status conducted such orientation sessions, while 
less than 60% of participants whose librarians did not hold faculty status 
offered the sessions.

•	Barely 5.4% of the sample required a 1 or 2 credit information 
literacy course for graduation, and just 3.6% required a 3 or more credit 
course. However, over 23% of the sample required information literacy 
training integrated into basic writing or composition courses.

•	Just over a third of the sample believed that the English 
department, or equivalent department with similar responsibilities, seemed 
to try but could do better in terms of carrying out its information 
literacy responsibilities. Just 23% believed that the department was doing 
well enough, while 22% believed information literacy was a high priority 
for them and that the department made time for them. Just 8% believed the 
English department to be laggard, and 12% believed their collaboration to 
be an excellent one.

•	Nearly 48% of the colleges sampled offered interactive tutorials 
in information literacy topics to students. Just a third of bachelors-
granting colleges offered such tutorials, while 6 out of 10 research 
universities did so.  

•	The vast majority of the sample, nearly 84%, reported that the 
library was not really involved with computer technology training on 

•	Nearly 73% of the libraries in the sample had one or more 
instructional labs or learning centers designed for information literacy 
instruction in which much of their formal literacy instruction took place.

•	Half of the libraries in the sample reported making tutorial links 
and other resources available through course management systems such as 
Blackboard and WebCT.

The report is based on detailed benchmarking data from more than 110 North 
American colleges; data is broken out by type and size of college for 
easier benchmarking.  

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