Seven pillars and five minds: small business workplace information literacy

Hayley Lockerbie (School of Creative and Cultural Business, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)
Dorothy Williams (School of Creative and Cultural Business, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Publication date: 9 September 2019



The purpose of this paper is to develop and test a theoretical framework for understanding information literacy (IL) within the context of a small business workplace environment. The theoretical framework developed related IL competencies to competencies for success as described by the psychologist Howard Gardner in his book “Five Minds for the Future”.


A theoretical framework was developed using the CILIP Seven Pillars for IL and Howard Gardner’s Five Minds theory. Indicative connections between the Seven Pillars and Five Minds were identified by the researchers. The framework was tested through analysis of transcripts from qualitative interviews conducted with four small business owners.


Connections were found between the Seven Pillars and the Five Minds; some which had been projected by the researchers and others which had not. The theoretical framework aided description of and understanding of IL within small business workplace environments.

Research limitations/implications

A small sample size limits the generalizability of the findings, and further testing of the framework is required. The findings do, however, suggest that the context in which IL manifests remains significant and should be further examined in wider and divergent contexts.


Using theory from psychology paired with a well-known theory of IL to develop a new theoretical framework is novel. The framework developed offers a new way of understanding the role of IL within the context of small business workplaces.



Lockerbie, H. and Williams, D. (2019), "Seven pillars and five minds: small business workplace information literacy", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 75 No. 5, pp. 977-994.

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