Vol. 8 No. 2 (2023): Journal of New Librarianship
Peer Reviewed Articles

A Close Look at the Concept of Authority in Information Literacy

Stefanie Bluemle
Augustana College

Published 2023-07-25


  • cognitive authority,
  • constructionism,
  • information literacy,
  • Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education,
  • pedagogy

How to Cite

Bluemle, S. (2023). A Close Look at the Concept of Authority in Information Literacy. Journal of New Librarianship, 8(2), 1–28. https://doi.org/10.33011/newlibs/14/1


The concept of authority—its definition and the consequences thereof—receives intense scrutiny in library scholarship. This article intervenes in that debate with attention to the larger political context in which the debate is taking place. The article’s purpose is threefold. First, it analyzes the most significant work on authority from philosophy and information studies in order to explicate the concept. Second, it draws on that explication to identify three components of authority that are under-addressed in library literature: a) the distinction between cognitive authority and political authority, b) the means by which authority is recognized or granted to a source, and c) the relationship between a source’s authority and the features (such as author, publisher, etc.) of that source. Finally, the article illustrates why each of those under-addressed components is important to speaking and teaching about information literacy effectively in the United States’ current political climate.