The ACRL Image Resources Interest Group (ACRL/IRIG) has released a draft set of standards for visual literacy competency in higher education. The ACRL/IRIG believes that visual literacy standards are necessary due to the pervasiveness of online images, and the use of images within student learning and research. According to ACRL/IRIG, visual literacy is defined as a
…set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Visual literacy skills equip a learner to understand and analyze the contextual, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, intellectual, and technical components involved in the production and use of visual materials.
In all, there are seven standards, and each of the seven standards include performance indicators and learning outcomes. The learning outcomes, in particular, seem to be the most useful and concrete.
The concept of visual literacy standards is not exactly a new one. The ACRL/IRIG reports that there is a large body of literature on visual literacy and visual studies. In addition, there are some K-12 and other higher education documents that include at least a few standards that are recommended by the ACRL/IRIG; however, the group feels that the “learning goals”, in particular, had not been well defined, and they aim to fill this gap.
I tend to think that a set of ACRL standards for visual literacy is necessary. Librarians hopefully will use the standards to plan their interactions (one-on-one assistance, reference interactions, workshops, etc.) with students, and also in conversations with faculty, deans, and other interested parties. Additionally, academic librarians will be “speaking the same language” by having one clear set of visual literacy standards to reference.
What are your thoughts? Are the standards necessary? How are they different from general information literacy or transliteracy standards? Is there a standard or a learning outcome that really catches your eye/interest?