Information Competency Plan
for the California Community Colleges

Issues and Recommendations

Staff Development Collaborative Environment, Articulation & Matriculation Knowledge & Technology Infrastructure Support The Challenge of Developing Courses, Proposing Changes in Degree Requirements Models

A. Staff Development

Making effective changes in organizations, educational or otherwise, is a complex process. To ensure information competency in community college students, we must as well ensure the information competency of librarians, discipline faculty, support staff, and administrators. The time and money needed to do this must be provided.

"The need for faculty development," states the Academic Senate report, "is paramount and support must be provided for instructional design. Information competency must also compete with a variety of other faculty development needs and these funds are often not available for reassigned time and materials to develop these competencies." Supporting evidence:

The CSU report succinctly poses the problem: " Before a professor can teach students to do a hypermedia project or understand the provisions of the copyright act or discuss the ethics of e-mail, he or she must have considerable faculty development opportunities. With the rapid pace of technological change, skills need continual updating and renewing."

CCC Board Policy: Addressing the issue of new and diverse learning styles and use of more technology in teaching, in The New Basic Agenda the CCC Board noted the need for faculty to be "given adequate opportunity to learn about these issues and opportunities and have access to the technology."

Academic Senate: "Before the information competency of students can be ensured, information competency of the faculty must be ensured, and the time and money needed to do this must be provided. If faculty is to foster information competency skills in their courses, faculty skills must be enhanced. With the rapid pace of technological change, skills need continual updating and renewing.

Overwhelmingly workshop participants echoed the same concerns.


1. Faculty development strategy:

2. Identify and systematize levels of funding and training support related to information competency.

B. A Collaborative Environment, Articulation & Matriculation

More than half the students coming to community colleges are in need of some pre-collegiate training, reports the CCC Board's The New Basic Agenda. This problem was noted in the 1995 Cohen-Jan report and the Curzon CSU report of the same year. The January 1998 Education Week gave California schools an F in 'Resources' on its annual report card. The State's K-12 schools, once a national model, are now among the nation's worst in academic performance; hardly surprising since California ranks 41st in per-pupil spending. Collaboration with K-12 schools is essential to attempt a solution to the problem: CCC students, more than most in the nation, arrive under-prepared for the high-tech society in which they find themselves.

New and Continuing Roles for Libraries and Librarians

Workshop participants noted a library is not only a place, it is a function. The library of the future will continue to select, access, and subsidize information resources required throughout the college. Further, academic libraries have a long tradition of providing direct assistance and instruction to their users. Participants noted the increasing need for library staff members, particularly reference librarians, to teach students and faculty to identify, locate and evaluate information wherever individuals or resources may reside.

"Librarians," states the Consortium for Educational Technology for University Systems in its Academic Library in the Information Age: Changing Roles (1997) are ideally positioned to "serve as leaders on their campuses during this period of transformation, facilitating the introduction of new technologies for learning, teaching, and research."

As information systems increase in complexity and new resources continue to spring up, increasingly, librarians are called upon to assist faculty and students in identifying and evaluating many sources, and to serve as advisors and teachers.

The evolving role of librarians, as noted by the Consortium report, requires constant training to maintain currency. Also, given this charge, librarians will be:


C. Knowledge and Technology Infrastructure Support

Knowledge Infrastructure Support

Today's array of technologies and networks is providing dramatic changes in teaching, learning and research. Increasingly, these changes are evident in California community colleges and their libraries and resource centers. Ralph Wolff, Executive Director of the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges, WASC, provides a useful summary of the issue in Conference Notes of the November 1997 CSU Information Competence Workshop. "Higher education institutions and the curriculum," he writes, "must be supportive of the library in its role as a window of global knowledge. Libraries enable institutions to go beyond their physical boundaries…. Accreditation agencies should be the catalysts, which encourage institutions to adopt new dynamic ways of thinking which incorporate information competence into their curricula…. The present accreditation system is not working well under the new emerging educational model, one that is learning-centered, not resource-centered. The old standards are based on resources, structures, numbers of books, and faculty." The new standards, Wolff suggested, should be a student learning-centered approach. In looking at how best to support information competency, workshop participants noted we must blend the best traditions of past library practices and services with new options, particularly those of electronic resources and the concept of a "virtual" university with a "virtual" library.

The Library Collection - Print and Electronic

The kind of collections CCCs should have and how they should be funded is of relevance to this report on information competency since students and faculty require materials in the libraries to support course development and offerings. Collection development issues are caught in a crossfire: studies have demonstrated that both print and electronic collections need upgrading, and yet funding opportunities are often weighted towards one facet of the collection - electronic access to bibliographic holdings and resources.

The California Education Code does not address the area of library collections. Title V of the California Code of Regulations addresses it from a quantitative perspective - somewhat outdated in this era of electronic information sharing. Collection development problems are summarized in a CCC Chancellor's Office publication: A Study of the System's Library and Learning Resources over a Period of Seven Years, 1988-89 and 1994-95 (1997) by Carolyn Norman. It found:

As noted by the CSU Task Force report, "in order for students to obtain a good education, they must have access to a wide variety of knowledge that challenges their minds, encourages them to read and research broadly, and makes them aware of the range and breadth of the knowledge developed by many people and many cultures. This means that the library's collections… must be strong and vital." Libraries require:

Recommendations addressing this issue are integrated into the following section on Technology Infrastructure since it is impossible to discuss collection development options in today's world without making use of current technology in the storage and retrieval of information.

Technology Infrastructure Support

Building a solid technology infrastructure requires a long and steady commitment. The Chancellor's Office has, through budget preparation, studies and research, identified baseline support upon which to build a 21st century library or learning resources program, including the broad spectrum of resources found in CCC libraries. As discussed by Mary Ann Laun in her 1997 report On-ramps to Electronic Highways, Internet connections are expected to be completed this year. Workstations for Internet access are a priority need. Some libraries have adequate collections and research space, well staffed labs for students, and a large enough professional and classified support staff to provide support for college instruction. Others do not.

The Chancellor's Office 1998-99 Budget Report, November 1997, provides a history of the challenges related to instructional equipment and library acquisitions: "prior to the inception of a State funded program for the replacement of instructional equipment in 1985, State funds were provided for instructional materials only when a building was constructed or remodeled. Tighter and tighter operating budgets resulted in a wide disparity in the community colleges' ability to replace outworn and obsolete instructional equipment. Much of the current equipment is obsolete and inadequate for properly educating students to satisfy present day needs of employers. Past State support for this program has made it impossible to modernize the college's instructional tools on a systematic basis. In 1985, the Chancellor's Office identified over $500 million of existing instructional equipment at the community colleges. Since that time, the figure has grown to nearly $900 million of existing instructional equipment and it still does not meet all the college's growing instructional needs for more up-to-date equipment. By updating the original survey, the annual cost to maintain and repair the colleges' existing equipment is now over $27 million. Additional yearly costs of over $60 million is needed to replace or upgrade the colleges instructional equipment in existing programs. The annual ongoing cost therefore, amounts to over $87 million for just instructional equipment. This figure does not include the $420 million identified in the California Community College Acquisition Needs: 1995-2005 for library materials, or the over $1 billion needed for technology infrastructure upgrade."


D. The Challenge of Developing Courses, Proposing Changes in Degree Requirements

The Academic Senate Report
The report explains "due to the diversity of available information technologies and the increasing amount of information conveyed through electronic interfaces, the instructional content of information competency must be expanded. Library orientations and bibliographic instruction programs as typically implemented by the majority of California Community Colleges are not comprehensive enough to fill the needs of our students as they cope with the explosion of information. The knowledge obtained in traditional library orientations and bibliographic instruction sessions is important and needs to be expanded to include an understanding of the issues of copyright, free speech, censorship, access and privacy. The goal is to prepare students to work independently using electronic databases and information networks in addition to using traditional written materials to locate and present information."

Some members of educational segment groups caution that students are burdened with too many requirements at present, and that this places an even greater burden on them regarding course completion. Focus groups in the workshops overwhelmingly subscribed to the notion of a joint effort of librarians and discipline faculty. Project participants emphasized the need for a cooperative working relationship with discipline faculty as the only practical method to address this issue, in essence subscribing to the policy as recommended in the Academic Senate position paper.

California Statutory Law & Administrative Regulations

California statutory law and administrative regulations can be interpreted as supporting information competency. The Education Code (Section 78212, subsection 3 A-F) states students should be provided assessment and counseling upon enrollment, and that there should be evaluation of student study and learning skills with post enrollment evaluation of progress, with required advisement of students in remedial courses. It is difficult to disallow that information competency is but a facet of study skills, and thus, is already in the Code. Also, workshop participants drew attention to the California Code of Regulations statement on EOP&S funding which impacts on information competency: Title V, 56234 (c), requires the colleges to spell out how well eligible students are able to use library services and use effective study techniques. Further, participants observed that information competency is, in fact, a component of critical thinking and a facet of matriculation requirements.


E. Models

The implementation of an information competency program will be most effective if it is integrated horizontally and vertically throughout the curriculum. The Academic Senate report, the CSU study, and the vast majority of workshop participants agree. The Academic Senate report states "an ideal plan would integrate information competency in all courses in the curriculum. A separate course, taken once in a student's career, should not be expected to satisfy the key components of information competency." It is recommended that the fundamentals of information competency be introduced in a college orientation/learning skill course. The concept of information competency can then be further developed by embedding them in general education transfer courses and in courses that are required for certificate and/or degree programs. Because the ability to use information effectively and wisely is crucial to a student's success in higher education, it seems natural to incorporate information competency into the general education curriculum required of all students. It could be added as a separate course, or as a component in several, or all, of the courses in the general education curriculum. It is possible to identify the competencies that all students should have, but sometimes discipline-specific competencies are needed. Those competencies should be integrated into the curriculum of that discipline.

Presently, orienting members of the campus community on information resources available to them and how to make use of those resources is widespread throughout the California community colleges and CSU campuses. "In many ways," the CSU study reports, "this is an ideal place to begin a sustained emphasis on the student's acquiring information skills, the 'orientation' nature of the course and the necessity to cover all student support services and study skills usually dictates that the component devoted to information competency be brief." Many colleges employ variations of the following models:

  1. General orientations emphasizing the basic skills necessary to find information in today's electronic environment.
  2. A bibliographic/ library instruction course.
  3. Introduction to Libraries and Library Materials, a library technology course.
  4. Internet Research Strategies, a library technology course.
  5. 'One-shot' instructional sessions taught by librarians.
  6. Formal instruction for faculty, administration and staff on new library resources.
  7. Information competency in general education.
  8. Information competency in major areas.
  9. Information competency as an add-on to another course.
  10. Information competency through competency-based mastery
  11. Standardized tests and other methods of assessing performance or demonstration of skills.


    Samples of these models are explained in Appendix E.


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    This page was last updated on December 3, 2004.
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