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Information Literacy Resources: Define

This guide was created using the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Standards on Information Literacy (IL) to help you to understand the concept of information literacy. This, in an effort to improve teaching and learning at the UWI.

Library Resources

Types of Information

Reference Sources

These include dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases and computer databases. Kindly note that printed reference materials are for in-library use only and are not available for loan.

Books or monographs

Books are usually on one subject or theme written by one or more authors. E-books are included in this category. The catalogue is used to find book titles.

Scholarly journals

Issued regularly, these publications are often written by practitioners or experts in the field on a specific issue from a clearly defined point of view. Many journals and e-journals are peer reviewed. This means that prior to publication, experts would have vouched for the articles' soundness and academic value.

Primary Sources

Original material created by an author. This includes oral records, blogs, patents, creative work, photographs, minutes of meetings, artifacts or raw data. Primary sources may vary by discipline, see here for a description of different sources of material. The West Indiana Special Collections Unit provides access to primary sources of material specific to the Caribbean.


Each library in the Campus Libraries Network archives student papers or projects, however; the West Indiana Collection at the Alma Jordan Library houses a comprehensive collection of the full text of postgraduate theses.

Electronic Resources

Authoritative websites, scholarly blogs and online databases are all found via the web. The e-information portal of the UWI Libraries makes subscribed resources - electronic journals, databases, electronic books - accessible via one search interface.

Standard 1

The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.

How do I...

... define the type of information I will need?

It is important to define the type of information you will need so that you would know what your are looking for and where to find it.

  • If you are looking for a statistical number - you could look in an online statistical database - for the GDP of a country for example.
  • If you are doing research on a Caribbean historical figure - you could look at Newspaper clippings for a review of Kitchener for example.
  • If you are interested in how an author explores a topic, you could look for a book by or about the author, for example Works by Shakespeare.
  • If you are trending a topical issue, you might look at blogs and mircorblogs to investigate feedback, for example, the hash tag on a twitter feed.

Determining your need will help you to define where you would look for the information.


<-see the side bar for an example of library resources that can be useful as you define your information need.

Defining your Topic

This video by Dr Bob Baker, Community Campus Library Director, Pima Community College talks about information literacy and deals with many issues including; clarifying the assignment; identifying a subject & brainstorming a topic; gathering background information in general and specialized encyclopedias; defining a manageable topic; forming a research question; forming a thesis statement; and time management.

Have you heard of mind maps?


These are some questions to ask yourself when trying to define your information need.

What is your need for information?

Do you have an assignment to do a paper about a topic?

What is the general subject you are looking for?

Can you describe your topic in a few sentences or give a quick definition?

Can you state your topic as a question, or as a problem that you want to solve?

Do you have more specific requirements for your topic?

What terms can you use to describe your topic?

Are there other requirements that limit your topic?

What general tools can help you to define your topic, choose major concepts, and create lists of terms?