A Study of the Information Literacy Needs of Social Work Graduate Students at a mid-sized Canadian university


information literacy
social work graduate students
library instruction
embedded librarianship
liaison roles

How to Cite

Magliaro, J., & Munro, S. (2018). A Study of the Information Literacy Needs of Social Work Graduate Students at a mid-sized Canadian university. International Journal of Librarianship, 3(2), 3–35. https://doi.org/10.23974/ijol.2018.vol3.2.79
Received 2018-09-25
Accepted 2018-11-26
Published 2018-12-21


This study consists of an analysis of the information literacy (IL) needs and levels of 44 social work graduate students at a mid-sized Canadian university using the Technology Acceptance Model.  Students completed a quantitative questionnaire that included supplementary open-ended questions.  Results showed that students who received a library tour and/or in-class library instruction were more knowledgeable and confident about library resources and services. The study clearly demonstrates that information literacy sessions should be essential components of graduate education. A comprehensive literature review of information literacy studies focusing on social work students is also provided, along with the current graduate social work modified Beile Test of Information Literacy for Education (B-TILED) assessment tool (Beile O’Neil, 2005).  The authors recommend that information literacy surveys in Canada include the relevant required elements for the Institutional Quality Assurance Process (IQAP) and program learning outcomes.  Given the lack of a Canadian national document for information literacy standards, such surveys should also reflect the components of ACRL’s new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.  This study can serve as a model for replication at other universities, particularly those that are part of the Ontario Council of University Libraries and that have graduate social work programs. 



Association of College & Research Libraries (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency.cfm

Association of College & Research Libraries (2016). Framework for information literacy for higher education. Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework

Association of College & Research Libraries (2015). Introduction for Faculty and Administrators). Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframeworkapps#introfaculty

Ayoub, Y. (2016). An investigation of information literacy of international graduate students: skills, challenges, and needs (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL.

Beile O'Neil, P. M. (2005). Development and validation of the Beile Test of Information Literacy for Education (B-TILED) (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global database. (Order No. 3193465).

Bellard, E.M. (2007). Information literacy needs of nontraditional graduate students in social work. Research Strategies, 20(4), 494-505. doi: 10.1016/j.resstr.2006.12.019

Bingham, T.J., & Wirjapranata, J., & Chinnery, Shirley-Ann. (2016). Merging information literacy and evidence-based practice for social work students. New Library World, 117(3-4), 201-213. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/NLW-09-2015-0067

Bishop, C.G. (2015). An investigation of the information practices of education doctoral students (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL.

Bradley, C. (2013). Information literacy in the programmatic university accreditation standards of select professions in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Journal of Information Literacy, 7(1), 44-68. http://dx.doi.org/10.11645/7.1.1785

Brustman, M.J., & Bernnard, D. (2007). Information literacy for social workers: University at Albany Libraries prepare MSW students for research and practice. Communications in Information Literacy, 1(2), 89-101.

Bury, S. (2011). Faculty attitudes, perceptions and experiences of information literacy: a study across multiple disciplines at York University, Canada. Journal of Information Literacy, 5(1), 45-64. http://dx.doi.org/10.11645/5.1.1513

Catalano, A.J. (2010). Using ACRL standards to assess the information literacy of graduate students in an Education program. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 5(4), 21-38. http://dx.doi.org/10.18438/B8V62B

Dumouchel, G. (2017). Les compétences informationnelles des futurs enseignants québécois sur le Web. Université de Montréal. Retrieved from https://papyrus.bib.umontreal.ca/xmlui/handle/1866/18372

Fontno, T.J., & Brown, D.N. (2015). Putting information literacy in the students’ hands: the elementary learning centers approach applied to instruction in higher education. C&RL

News,76(2), 92-97.

Gibbs, L., & Gambrill, E. (2002). Evidence-based practice: counterarguments to objections. Research on Social Work Practice, 12(3), 452-476. doi: 10.1177/1049731502012003007

Gordon, L., & Bartoli, E. (2012). Using discipline-based professional association standards for information literacy integration: a review and case study. Behavioral and Social Sciences Librarian, 31(1), 23-38. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01639269.2012.657518

Gullikson, S. (2006). Faculty perceptions of ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32(6), 583-592. doi: 10.1016/j.acalib.2006.06.001

Herz, M., & Johansson, T. (2011). Critical social work – considerations and suggestions. Critical Social Work, 12(1), 28-45.

Howard, M.O., & McMillen, C.J., & Pollio, D.E. (2003). Teaching evidence-based practice: toward a new paradigm for social work education. Research on Social Work Practice, 13(2), 234-259. doi: 10.1177/1049731502250404

Ismail, L. (2010). Revelations of an off-campus user group: library use and needs of faculty and students at a satellite graduate social work program. Journal of Library Administration,

(5-6), 712-736. doi: 10.1080/01930826.2010.488957

Ismail, L. (2009). What they are telling us: library use and needs of traditional and non-traditional students in a graduate social work program. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(6), 555-564.

Johnson, O.J., & Whitfield, J.S., & Grohe, B. (2011). Improving social work students’ information literacy skills: a faculty and librarian collaboration. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 22(3), 5-21.

Johnston, N. (2010). Is an online learning module an effective way to develop information literacy skills? Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 41(3), 207-218.

Kitchin, S., & Lampitt, S. (2013). Evaluation of a self-audit tool to support information skills development in postgraduate students. SCONUL Focus 59, 54-59.

Kovach, M., & Montgomery, H. (2010). What kind of learning? For what purpose? Reflections on a critical adult education approach to online Social Work and Education courses serving Indigenous distance learners. Critical Social Work, 11(1), 27-41.

Lampert, L. (2005). Getting psyched about information literacy: a successful faculty-librarian collaboration for educational psychology and counseling. The Reference Librarian, 43(89), 5-23. doi: 10.1300/J120v43n89_02

Lewis, C. (2003). Preparing the next generation of researchers. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 22(6), 577-587.

Magliaro, Jelena, "Comparing Information Literacy Needs of Graduate Students in Selected Graduate Programs through the Technology Acceptance Model and Affordance Theory" (2011). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 424. https://scholar.uwindsor.ca/etd/424

Mirabito, D.M. (2012). Educating a new generation of social workers: challenges and skills needed for contemporary agency-based practice. Clinical Social Work Journal, 40(2), 245-254.

Poole, J.M. (2010). Progressive until graduation? Helping BSW students hold onto anti-oppressive and critical social work practices. Critical Social Work, 11(2), 2-11.

Saunders, L. (2017). Connecting information literacy and social justice: why and how. Communications in Information Literacy, 11(1), 55-75.

Silfen, K., & Zgoda, K. (2008). Evidence-based practice and information literacy in social work: an assessment of students’ reference lists. Behavioral and Social Sciences Librarian, 27(2), 104-115. doi: 10.1080/01639260802202082

Sizemore, L. et al. (2008). Social policy and constructivism using constructivist learning theory in teaching social work students research skills. The Southeastern Librarian, 56(3), 17-20.

Weetman, DaCosta, J. (2010). Is there an information literacy skills gap to be bridged? An examination of faculty perceptions and activities relating to information literacy in the United States and England. College and Research Libraries, 71(3), 203-222.

Wheeler, D.P., & Goodman, H. (2007). Health and mental health social workers need information literacy skills. Health and Social Work, 32(3), 235-237.

Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:         

Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and the initial publication in this journal.      

Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the nonexclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.      

Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to  productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).


Download data is not yet available.