Transforming Information Literacy Instruction
Threshold Concepts in Theory and Practice
by Amy R. Hofer, Silvia Lin Hanick, and Lori Townsend
November 2018, 255pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-4166-8
$70, £54, 61€, A96
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4167-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Threshold concepts are the backbone of the revised 2014 ACRL Framework for Information Literacy. Learn how to apply this influential theory in the context of your information literacy instruction.

Provides information literacy practitioners with a thorough exploration of how threshold concepts can be applied to information literacy, identifying important elements and connections between each concept, and relating theory to practical methods that can transform how librarians teach.

A model that emerged from the Enhancing Teaching-Learning Environments project in Great Britain, threshold concepts are those transformative core ideas and processes in a given discipline that define the ways of thinking and practicing shared by experts. Once a learner grasps a threshold concept, new pathways to understanding and learning are opened up. The authors of this book provide readers with both a substantial introduction to and a working knowledge of this emerging theory and then describe how it can be adapted for local information literacy instruction contexts.

Five threshold concepts are presented and covered in depth within the context of how they relate and connect to each other. The chapters offer an in-depth explanation of the threshold concepts model and identify how it relates to various disciplines (and our own discipline, information science) and to the understandings we want our students to acquire. This text will benefit readers in these primary audiences: academic librarians involved with information literacy efforts at their institutions, faculty teaching in higher education, upper-level college administrators involved in academic accreditation, and high school librarians working with college-bound students.


  • Provides an essential, foundational text on the theory behind the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy
  • Supplies librarians with the context to frame the work they do with information literacy in the same manner as faculty
  • Demonstrates how librarians sharing pedagogical approaches with faculty enable more cooperative projects, better faculty-librarian communication, and truly integrated librarian instruction
Amy R. Hofer, MLIS, is coordinator of Statewide Open Education Library Services at Open Oregon Educational Resources. Along with Lori Townsend and Korey Brunetti, she is coauthor of the article "Threshold Concepts for Information Literacy," which won the 2013 Association of College and Research Libraries Instruction Section Ilene F. Rockman Publication of the Year Award. She received her master's degree in library and information science from San Jose State University.

Silvia Lin Hanick, MLIS, MA, is the first-year experience librarian and an assistant professor at LaGuardia Community College, a CUNY institution. She received her master's degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her master's degree in English literature from the University of New Mexico. She previously worked at the University of New Mexico as an access services librarian.

Lori Townsend, MLIS, is learning services coordinator and an associate professor for the University Libraries at the University of New Mexico (UNM). In this position, she oversees and coordinates the instruction program for the University Libraries. She holds a bachelor's degree in history from the University of New Mexico and a master's degree in library and information science from San Jose State University. Before joining UNM, Townsend worked as the electronic collections librarian at California State University, East Bay, from 2005 to 2010. Along with Korey Brunetti and Amy R. Hofer, she is coauthor of the article "Threshold Concepts for Information Literacy," which won the 2013 Association of College and Research Libraries Instruction Section Ilene F. Rockman Publication of the Year Award.


"...Hofer, Lin Hanick, and Townsend have produced a book with much to offer academic librarians involved in the design and delivery of information literacy instruction."—Public Services Quarterly, June 4, 2019

"With this book the authors have issued a cordial yet clear invitation to engage with threshold concepts to improve our teaching. They deftly weave both theory and practice into a useful and practical tool for reflective pedagogy. This book is so powerful that, before I had even finished reading it, I found myself including what I had read the night before in an information literacy session. Accept the authors’ invitation and cross the threshold into a new way of teaching information literacy."—Bob Schroeder, Education Librarian/Associate Professor, Portland State University

"What a profoundly wise and accessible book. The authors brilliantly help us understand both the rationale and applications that lead to the best use of threshold concepts. A great resource for anyone who is looking for a guide to the latest and best thinking about a more sophisticated information literacy."—William Badke, Associate Librarian, Trinity Western University

"Librarians and other educators who encountered the idea of threshold concepts through ACRL Framework-based discussions now have the opportunity to explore this pedagogical approach with the guidance of experts on the topic. Learn how the authors identified the list of threshold concepts included (why isn’t scholarship as a conversation on that list?), and consider the authors’ suggestion that you too can engage in a process that might identify new information literacy threshold concepts. Part 2’s exploration of the threshold concepts and ideas for teaching them is outstanding—it is quite possible that the desire to try out some of the suggestions will spur readers to identify new teaching opportunities."—Trudi E. Jacobson, SUNY Distinguished Librarian, University at Albany

"Theoretically informed, philosophically insightful, and refreshingly innovative, Transforming Information Literacy Instruction: Threshold Concepts in Theory and Practice shines a light on the construction of five interconnected threshold concepts, showing how a pedagogical shift towards conceptual teaching can dramatically impact our contribution to student learning. Hofer, Lin Hanick, and Townsend set a masterful example for modeling how to think through the complexity of threshold concepts by sharing their intense personal discussions and reflective processes and by connecting metaphors with practical examples of lesson plans and assessment strategies. This is a book that should be read by any librarian concerned with honoring the student experience while preparing them as practitioners of information use and creation."—Merinda Kaye Hensley, associate professor and digital scholarship liaison and instruction librarian, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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