The information seeking behaviour of arts students and how to improve this. An Annotated Bibliography.

I wanted to share this assignment with you all (anyone who’s interested), which is an annotated bibliography I had to make for my Information Literacy module. The reason I’m sharing it is because it’s an area of librarianship I feel passionately about and that’s information literacy and arts students.

Photo by Tatiana on

Who is this for? I’d suggest anyone who works in arts education (not just as a librarian, maybe as a tutor, lecturer, technician, anyone really).

I’m not saying ‘Look at this – the most amazing work ever’ more a ‘Hey, this could be useful and maybe lead you on to even more information’.

We had to have exactly 12 items comprising of at least 1 book, 1 website and 1 academic journal article.

The annotated bibliography is titled:

The information seeking behaviour of arts students and how to improve this.
An Annotated Bibliography

A bibliography aimed at instructors, lecturers and librarians working in higher or further education teaching art students key information literacy skills and how they can assist them in their search for information.

Association of College and Research Libraries [ACRL]. (2017). Information Literacy in the Disciplines: Art. Retrieved 20 November, 2017, from

The Instruction Section [IS] of the Association of College and Research Libraries [ACRL], a division of the American Library Association [ALA], have constructed a web page which lists professional and accredited sources concerning information literacy in the arts. The sources are separated into three sections; accrediting and professional bodies, associated studies and instructional texts. Key institutions with policies and standards are covered, such as the National Association of Schools of Art and Design [NASAD] and Art Libraries Society of North America [ARLIS/NA]. Significant journals are also mentioned, including Art Libraries Journal, Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries of North America alongside specific articles. This web page hosts an important collection of sources that any professional assisting arts students in teaching information literacy would find valuable.

Badger, I. (2015, July 5). Teaching information Literacy in an arts university [Blog Post]. Retrieved, 2017, November 5, from 

This blog post gives an overview of the process of teaching information literacy to art students from a Learning and Teaching Librarian at the University for the Creative Arts at Canterbury. Changes within the institution and the ways in which staff work are addressed initially. This may be something to consider within one’s own institution and liaising with colleagues, both academics and e-learning or e-resources teams, to access vital course information which can be extremely important. Examples of workshops are given; including the differences between a first year fine art session and a third year dissertation based session. Different student groups are also briefly looked at, such as Architecture and Design and Fine Art students. Badger clearly states his position within his institution and the staff members he works closely with. This will differ from institution to institution, but may inspire others to connect with colleagues outside of their immediate team and produce ideas for workshops.

Bennett, H. (2006). Bringing the studio into the library: addressing the research needs of studio art and architecture students. Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, 25(1), 38-42.

Bennett’s paper is cited frequently in research concerning arts students and information literacy and is a key text to begin building a foundation of knowledge on this topic.  Bennett immediately identifies the difficulties in tutoring arts students in their pursuit of information. These difficulties range from the huge amount of material arts students can find inspiration in, which is essentially anything, to the struggle to develop and expand students’ information skills which may not have been developed in the same way as those pursuing more academic careers. Information skills for arts students, rarely addressed by other texts, go beyond searching for information purely for course based reasons. Bennett held sessions on how to find information to make a successful grant proposal. Bennett explicitly states the need to assist arts students in their progression of information literacy skills for not only their course, but their whole career.

Brown, J., Carlin, J., Caswell, T., Crowe, E., Gervits, M., Lewis, S., Michelson, A., Opar, B., & Parker, J. (2007). Information competencies for students in design disciplines. Art Libraries Society of North America. Retrieved from

This thorough report aims to assist both librarians and academic faculties in embedding information proficiencies into the curriculum. Few texts investigate the different kinds of arts students so deeply, which is why this is such a valuable resource. Skills are set out in sections covering many different design disciplines from architecture students, to fashion students, to interior design students. Basic skills are covered initially and later more advanced skills. The separation of the different arts disciplines is vital as an architecture student will need different information skills, and will use different resources, compared to a fashion student. The report also includes links to further studies and research, which enrich this already exhaustive document.

Brown, N. E., Bussert, K., Hattwig, D., & Medaille, A. (Eds.). (2016). Visual literacy for libraries: a practical, standards based guide. London: Facet Publishing.

This publication is aimed at any professionals within libraries who may be teaching visual literacy, but this text would be vital to anyone teaching arts students in further or higher education also. Visual literacy is not specifically mentioned in other texts regarding arts students; it is frequently referred to only as “information literacy”. However, the onus which is put upon arts students using wide ranges of material both literacies should be taken into account. One of the most useful aspects of this text is that it not only supports professionals teaching visual literacy, but it also values the importance of improving one’s own visual literacy skills with activities within the publication.

Garcia, L., & Labatte, J. (2015). Threshold concepts as metaphors for the creative process: Adapting the framework for information literacy to studio art classes. Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, 34(2), 235-247.

Using the updated Association of College and Research Libraries [ACRL] 2015 Information Literacy Framework Garcia and Labatte discuss how this framework can be better applied to the teaching of information literacy for practical art students. The new standards cover visual and digital literacy with improved definitions. Threshold concepts are identified using the ACRL 2015 framework as ideas which lead to a wider perspective, in both the thought and application, of knowledge in a specific area of study. Using the six threshold concepts identified in the text as metaphors a stronger connection can be made between creativity and the acquisition of knowledge.

Glassman, P., & Dyki, J. (Eds.). (2017). The Handbook of Art and Design Librarianship (2nd ed.). London: Facet Publishing.

This publication is an excellent resource for information professionals working with art students. It would also be useful to any teaching professional working in an arts institution due to the variety of topics covered. This updated edition advances ideas concerning technology and social media, which are becoming more and more relevant in today’s education. The content is provided by a range of professionals working in arts institutions and case studies are used as examples, which may help individuals conduct similar investigations. Chapters also cover the management of collections, library spaces and teaching and learning all in relation to the arts and art students.

Greer, K. (2015). Connecting inspiration with information: studio art students and information literacy instruction. Communications in Information Literacy, 9(1), 83–94. Retrieved from

Greer identifies the lack of collaboration previously between the library and art faculty within her institution, which is Oakland University. Using a three-step plan she brings these two teams together to deeply embed literacy skills within the studio art practice curriculum. This text prominently recognises students’ information needs not only within the programme of study they are in, but also the need for career information, career development information and the information needed to be self-employed. Greer highlights the importance of the librarian leaving the library and becoming available in the art space.

Hemmig, W. S., (2008) The information-seeking behaviour of visual artists: a literature review. Journal of Documentation, 64(3), 343-362.

Hemmig’s literature review of how visual artists acquire knowledge is an extremely useful text for the following reasons. Despite this text aiming to diverge from arts students, as Hemmig mentions much of the previous literature about artists and information literacy is from an education perspective, material concerning this topic is discussed. Hemmig’s research on visual artists and their information needs is valuable due to students going out into the world to be artists and also already established artists going into education.

Lo, P., & Chu, W. (2015). Information for inspiration: understanding information seeking behaviour and library usage of students at the Hong Kong Design Institute. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 46(1–20), 101–120.

This article focuses on the digital arts students at the Hong Kong Design institute. Lo and Chu investigate how these particular students may find information differently. A questionnaire is used to collect data from the students and not only asks about their information needs, but also less obvious questions, such as which library they use and at what times. Factors like these are not often discussed, yet which library they use and when can provide insights into a student’s behaviour and therefore staff can more successfully tailor the resources and help they provide.

Martin-Bowtell, A., & Taylor, R. (2014). A collaborative approach to the use of archives in information literacy teaching and learning in an arts university. Art Libraries Journal, 39(4), 27-32.

This text investigates the collaboration between an archivist, librarian and the academic staff to enable arts students to become more aware of the resources within the library and archive and how these can improve the students’ information literacy. Archive collections regularly go unnoticed to arts students due to the lack of browsing opportunities. Martin-Bowtell and Taylor highlight the importance of teaching arts students to navigate archives, including the differences between libraries and archives, and how these taught skills can benefit the students beyond their academic course. Sessions are described in the paper that could be replicated at other institutions.

Ritchie, J., Tinker, A., & Power, J. (2016). The effectiveness of design thinking techniques to enhance undergraduate student learning. In: H. Britt, L. Morgan, & K. Walton (Eds.). Futurescan 3: Intersecting Identities. 11-12 November 2016, Association of Fashion & Textiles (FTC), Loughborough University, The Glasgow School of Art (pp. 10-18). Glasgow. Retrieved 30 November, 2017, from

This recent conference contribution studies the use of design thinking to increase undergraduate arts students’ learning. Design thinking encompasses the urge to create something new, thinking through problems and producing solutions. Links are made between the students’ information acquisition, their ability to share and disseminate this, and reflecting on their own work. Collaboration is frequently a necessary requirement in higher education arts programmes and key to the successful application of design thinking.

If anyone finds this interesting or useful – or has any other amazing texts or resources to point me in the direction of – I’d love to hear from you!

I want to say a huge thank you to Nigel my tutor for this assignment who gave me fantastic advice and guidance throughout this project.

Edits: Only minor adjustments to the text have been made and the layout. I also improved a reference to an item as I had not done this correctly (this was highlighted in feedback from my tutor) We also had to write a reflection on the creation of this document and include appendices, which I have omitted.

Notes:  Depending where you are in the world you might not be able to access all of the links/materials so apologies!

One thought on “The information seeking behaviour of arts students and how to improve this. An Annotated Bibliography.

  1. Pingback: The 1st Year in Review – Rookie (almost) Librarian

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