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Supporting multimodal literacy in library instruction

M. Delores Carlito (Department of Reference, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 30 May 2018

Issue publication date: 21 August 2018




Students interact with information in many ways throughout the day, code switching between modes depending on their needs. Educators are finally realizing that composing in more than one mode is not only important, but also necessary. The purpose of this study is to examine the role of the academic library, the ACRL Framework and information literacy instruction in creating ethical, inspired users.


This paper looks at previously published work on multimodal discourse, how libraries have supported modes in the past and how the ACRL Information Literacy Framework highlights the need to teach students and faculty how to compose in many modes.


Librarians are already well-versed in many literacies, including information, visual and media. They are familiar with multimodal tools and the ethical issues related to the use of images, videos and sound files. While professors are proficient in subject matter, librarians are experts in the paradigm shift from print to multiple modes; therefore, by teaching faculty and students to locate, evaluate, use ethically and cite various modes, librarians become the primary resource on campus for creating multimodal artifacts. The strata used by Kress and Van Leeuwen, coupled with the ACRL Framework, are a model for future instructional design.


While much has been written on visual literacy, little is written on library support of multimodal discourse or combining several modes in one argument. This paper is alone in reviewing the past support of multimodal literacy in libraries and gives some sample activities for use in the academic library.



Carlito, M.D. (2018), "Supporting multimodal literacy in library instruction", Reference Services Review, Vol. 46 No. 2, pp. 164-177.



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