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Negotiations on information‐seeking expertise: A study of web‐based tutorials for information literacy

Olof Sundin (The Swedish School of Library and Information Science, University College of Borås & Göteborg University, Borås, Sweden)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 18 January 2008




The purpose of this paper is to show how different approaches to information literacy, such as are mediated through web‐based tutorials, are used as tools in negotiating the information‐seeking expertise of university librarians.


A textual analysis of 31 web‐based Scandinavian tutorials for information literacy has been conducted. The similarities and differences identified are analysed as linguistic expressions of different approaches to information literacy. The approaches are seen as constructions based on a dialogue between the empirical data and the theoretical departure points.


Four approaches to information literacy emerge in the results: a source approach, a behaviour approach, a process approach, and a communication approach. The approaches entail different perspectives on information literacy. They impart diverging understandings of key concepts such as “information”, “information seeking” and the “user”.

Practical implications

A reflective awareness of different approaches to information literacy is important for both researchers and LIS practitioners, since the approaches that come into play have practical consequences for the operation of user education.


The present study supplements the information literacy research field by combining empirical findings with theoretical reflections.



Sundin, O. (2008), "Negotiations on information‐seeking expertise: A study of web‐based tutorials for information literacy", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 64 No. 1, pp. 24-44.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited