Vol 1 (2021)

Information literacy: graduate attributes for employability: are we talking the same language?

Reflective Professional
Published June 14, 2021
  • Information literacy,
  • Graduate attributes,
  • Information literacy instruction,
  • Academic libraries,
  • Academic librarians,
  • Employability,
  • Graduates,
  • Workplace
  • ...More


This study portrays an interconnectedness between graduate attributes and information literacy skills and attributes preparing students for future careers. Research in the area of workplace information literacy has demonstrated the effectiveness of information literacy as a transitional skill from academia into the working place. However, there is currently an information literacy skills deficit in graduates coming from different disciplines. With Higher Education Institutions (HEI) placing emphasis on graduate attributes for employability, there are opportunities for academic librarians to explore information literacy as a graduate skill and assert information literacy instruction as more than a one-off workshop and as a practice embedded into the curriculum. This research has relevance to academic librarians and curriculum programme developers.

This research has focused on six main information literacy themes: Discover and Access; Interpret, Analyse; Manage and Store; Create with Information; Communicate with Information and Collaboration. The last three themes consider ethical practice within the domain of graduate attributes. Template analysis was conducted on fourteen Scottish Universities’ graduate attributes public pages and across four graduate Scottish recruitment websites to review thirty-seven graduate job vacancies over a set time period. Using social constructivism theory, information literacy skills found in job advertisements were analysed with the purpose of mapping academic librarian terminology against industry terminology.

The findings conclude an inconsistency in terminology between academia and industry terminology as collated through the above methods. This calls for relevant stakeholders to engage in an audit of meaningful skills to inform a core shared language, and a holistic organisational approach to delivering information literacy through an interdisciplinary approach. In response to this finding and wider debates within academia, the study offers practical advice to academic librarians as a catalyst for change. This is offered through identifying overlapping and interconnected terms, which an academic librarian can apply to classroom narratives and therefore move closer to teaching students how to have a clearer understanding of what potential employers are seeking and allow them to have a language to articulate this with meaning. Overall, the findings suggest that discipline knowledge alone is not enough to prepare new graduates to be work-ready.