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The new Framework: a truth-less construction just waiting to be scrapped?

Nathan Aaron Rinne (Concordia University, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 13 February 2017




Now that the new Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education has replaced the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, this document will play an increasingly important role. This paper aims to show that in spite of the Framework seeking to provide a deep understanding of information and knowledge, it still falls short – particularly because the statement that “Authority is Constructed and Contextual”, with its failure to acknowledge the significance of truth’s relation to authority, is untenable.


A philosophical overview dealing with matters of librarianship, knowledge and truth is provided in Section 2. The paper then attempts to demonstrate that the idea of truth is inextricably connected with issues of authority.


The paper attempts to persuade the reader that the Framework cannot: circumvent the issue of truth (Section 3); avoid attempting to make ethical claims which are true (Section 4); reduce all truth claims to “power-plays” (Section 5); and escape “traditional notions of granting authority” (Section 6).

Practical implications

The Framework should acknowledge the importance of truth, which would, at the very least, necessarily involve revising the frame “Authority is Constructed and Contextual”. Librarians are also encouraged to reflect on the nature of both truth claims and ethical claims.

Social implications

The assumption of a “social constructionist” frame for truth has serious implications for matters going well beyond libraries and their “information resources”.


This paper attempts to offer an important and accessible philosophical analysis of the Framework that will require the engagement of the wider library community.



Rinne, N.A. (2017), "The new Framework: a truth-less construction just waiting to be scrapped?", Reference Services Review, Vol. 45 No. 1, pp. 54-66.



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