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Reviewed by:
  • Disciplinary Applications of Information Literacy Threshold Concepts ed. by Samantha Godbey, Susan Beth Wainscott, and Xan Goodman
  • Michael Flierl, Assistant Professor of Library Science
Disciplinary Applications of Information Literacy Threshold Concepts, ed. Samantha Godbey, Susan Beth Wainscott, and Xan Goodman. Chicago: ACRL, 2017. 378 pages. $72.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-8970-8)

Disciplinary Applications of Information Literacy Threshold Concepts offers thoughtful and intentional approaches to information literacy (IL) instruction in disciplinary contexts. Edited by Samantha Godbey, Susan Beth Wainscott, and Xan Goodman from the University [End Page 238] of Nevada, Las Vegas, Disciplinary Applications provides numerous, specific examples of how the notion of information literacy threshold concepts, transformative new ways of thinking, has informed academic librarians' pedagogical practice. The book is divided into the six threshold concepts that anchor the six frames in the Association of College and Research Libraries "Framework for Information Literacy for High Education." Godbey, Wainscott, and Goodman provide a thorough collection of instructional practices from over 30 authors representing various types of academic institutions in the United States and the United Kingdom. The editors state that one of their goals is to use threshold concepts to think about IL and learning in a different way—and they have largely succeeded.

A strength of Disciplinary Applications is its broad coverage of many fields of study. A partial list of disciplines discussed include visual arts, world art studies, health and exercise science, nursing, sociology, geosciences, history, and education—and the list could go on. Many authors take threshold concepts as a useful tool to address disciplinary IL issues, allowing the authors and the audience to conceptualize IL as nonlinear, complex, and open-ended. The diversity and complexity of IL in disciplinary contexts are in full display, and this book is a welcome practical compilation of applying threshold concepts to academic librarians' practice. The volume also presents a diverse set of instructional scenarios, from one-shots to librarians fully collaborating with disciplinary instructors throughout a semester. Many authors use threshold concepts to aim for larger, more ambitious IL-related pedagogical goals. A strong theme of "big ideas" emerges.

Each chapter feels like a unique approach to adapting an IL threshold concept in practice. For instance, Heidi Johnson and Anna Smedley-López's chapter "Information Privilege in the Context of Community Engagement in Sociology" discusses the Information Has Value concept. The chapter situates information literacy in the context of community-based participatory research projects and student discussions of information privilege.

A challenge the book does not fully overcome is sidestepping the intricacies of the new Framework and instead focusing on threshold concepts. Many chapters concentrate more on applying the Framework than on wrestling with IL threshold concepts. The editors succeed in providing diverse examples of how IL instruction can play out in various institutional and disciplinary contexts, but more chapters like Rachel Elizabeth Scott's or Tony Anderson and Bill Johnston's candid discussions on threshold concept theory would have been appreciated.

Disciplinary Applications provides readers the opportunity to rethink the place of the library and library instruction within the broader higher education context while also providing a plethora of context-and disciplinary-specific learning goals, assessments, and learning activities related to IL. Academic librarians will find specific and useful pedagogical practices readily available in this practical volume. [End Page 239]

Michael Flierl, Assistant Professor of Library Science
Learning Design Specialist
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 238-239
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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